December 19, 2006
Another Woman Put In Her Place in Saudi Arabia?
Oh, wait, sorry. It's not Saudi Arabia. Culture shock for an American female visitor:
A woman...reported a vicious attack by an ad-hoc "modesty patrol" on a...bus last month...[She says] she was slapped, kicked, punched and pushed by a group of men who demanded that she sit in the back of the bus with the other women...She rode the bus daily to...pray at sunrise...Women usually sit in the back, while men sit in the front, as a matter of custom.
Where's Rosa Parks when you need her?
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Because yeah, ripping off her snood and beating her up were the acts of a religiously observant person. Sigh.
All these fundies should sit down and talk some day - they'd have a lot in common, from the hair-covering to the intolerance to the gay-hating to the misogyny. Pity we can't pack them all off to their own little Fundie Island.
Posted by: SP at December 20, 2006 08:07 AM
As opposed to the secular fundamentalists, aka France, who rip snoods (the Muslim kind) off every teenage girl in the country.
Posted by: matthew hogan at December 20, 2006 11:43 AM
You might want to just group all the fanatics together by their exercise of power to enforce ideology; secular vs. religious is too easy a dichotomy, whereas adherence to power and a need to justify one's ego with excuses of State and "Deus Volt" are far more in common between secular and religious fundamentalists.
After all, don't both have an image of how 'women should look' - "invisible black ghosts" [Saudi & Iranian take] or "every woman wants to be a glamour queen" [France / Turkish secularists]
Posted by: dawud at December 20, 2006 11:57 AM
both have an image of how 'women should look' - "invisible black ghosts" [Saudi & Iranian take] or "every woman wants to be a glamour queen" [France / Turkish secularists]
The funny thing about that is that according to the linked article, she was dressed pretty much exactly in the way that even the most observant Orthodox Jew would want her to be dressed (being an observant Orthodox Jew on her way to prayer and all).
This encounter was about subservience, not observance; I may be a Loser Jew and all, but I'm not aware of anything in the Torah or Mishnah that requires a woman to sit at the back of a bus (or to obey a total stranger, not in a law enforcement or public safety role - or indeed in any role of auhtority other than being a most un-kosher male chauvinist pig, if you will pardon the expression) who is trying to order her around.
Posted by: Eva Luna at December 20, 2006 12:18 PM
I hate religious people. I would rather they rode underneath the wheels of the bus.
Posted by: secretdubai at December 20, 2006 03:56 PM
"I hate religious people. I would rather they rode underneath the wheels of the bus."
Well at least we all agree we are opposed to hatred and persecution.
Posted by: matthew hogan at December 20, 2006 05:13 PM
Chalk it up to reinterpreting faith to modern times in much the same way that one may not flip a switch on a Friday evening because one may not make a camp fire at that time. Or, to avoid exertion, one has to go up 20 flights of stairs rather than take the elevator.
If you want to argue against what France and Turkey did, argue that either wearing the veil in France or Turkey is rarely a form of reactionary political action or that the State must remain neutral to such actions.
At least in the case of Turkey, another such ban can show the reasons Turkey had for banning the veil in a lot of locations. The fez was also banned. Was it banned because the Turkish government wanted males to be the equivalent of beauty queens or was it banned because the fez was a symbol which could be used to rally groups in favour of the subversion of the Turkish constitution and arrows?
Also, are you saying that France and Turkey restrict to anywhere the same extent the freedom of women to dress as they please as Saudi Arabia and Iran?
Posted by: Baal Shem Ra at December 20, 2006 07:25 PM
Nationalism, religious and secular, all seem to like to wage a war on hatwear.
The Chinese nationalists used to cut those curly long braids off people in the early 1900s century (the type the cook wore on "Bonanza") because it was too manchu rather than Chinese.
Of course, today in the west we have the war on beards, i think they have that in Tunisia.
I think only true freedom exists where eyebrows are not plucked.
Posted by: matthew hogan at December 20, 2006 07:43 PM
BSR - sorry, can't do it. There is, among the Orthodox, a prohibition on mixing of genders among unrelated people in certain situations, but to the best of my knowledge it doesn't apply in public places (such as a FREAKING CITY BUS in a city that houses not only people belonging to multiple religions, but less-than-Orthodox Jews - the numeric majority, by the way - who don't have an issue with incidental physical contact with the opposite sex), and there's certainly nothing that says women are to be relegated to the back of a public place. Even in Orthodox synagogues, the genders are physically divided, but that doesn't mean women are in the back and men are in the front.
Matthew: don't forget Peter the Great's great distaste for beards, which manifested itself quite some time ago.
ah, so it's a matter of degree, 'Baal' - "Your honour, he raped his wife, how does beating my daughter matter?" - seperate cases, different conditions.
I'm talking about the imposition of cultural forms by force - and if you don't believe force is used on girls who choose to wear headscarves (and whether they have a political motive for doing so), force is certainly being used against them, unless you approve of "rolling religious people under tires", like secretdubai
There are religious and cultural norms that are honoured as well - and my understanding of secularism and democracy is that neither the religious authorities interfere with the state, nor vice versa) - I have difficulty seeing how desiring access to an education and a library is politically dangerous. Why don't you proclaim from on high which rights people may have and exercise, as only Western secularists have the right to do?
Posted by: dawud at December 21, 2006 06:48 AM
"(force) is certainly being used against them"
Certainly. Laws rest on force.
"unless you approve of "rolling religious people under tires""
Secularism and democracy aren't the same thing.
" I have difficulty seeing how desiring access to an education and a library is politically dangerous."
My comment could be read to mean that a female having access to a library or an education is politically dangerous or that wearing a symbol which has been associated with political subversion is politically dangerous. Did you believe that the former was more likely to be what I meant?
To answer your question, even if it's based on a (deliberate?) misunderstanding: any and all negative rights* that are exercised in self-regarding ways, consistent with the perpetuation of such regime. In other words, be formally free to do whatever you want, as long as you don't undermine this general rule.
But, while I'm ambivalent concerning the French ban, you're still quite unlikely to convince anyone who thinks it wise that it isn't. They likely thought of the rights issue already and decided that it weighed less.
Taking account of the fez ban, do you still think that the Turkish government banned the veil because it wants all females to go for the glamour queen look?
Do you think that if the veil(and similar Muslim coverings) were linked to nerfed sects like the Sufis or the Nizari Ismaelis, there would be anywhere near the same amount of support for its ban?
* Though I'm not sold on deontological morality, so I'd rather call them prerogatives.
Posted by: BaalShemRa at December 21, 2006 10:59 AM
I come from France and I was there when the veil issue was debated.
They likely thought of the rights issue already and decided that it weighed less.
They certainly didn't. It was a general hysteria where the French were almost seeing themselves invaded by Taliban hordes. As long as it was Arab girls from ultraconservative Muslim background wearing them, some high school director would kick them out every once in a while and nobody would make a big fuss about it. But when it came to two "white" girls, of Jewish descent with an atheist father, who took on themselves to wear it and refused to remove it, white French felt they were threatened in their core. A commission was made to consider whether there should be a law banning the veil or not, and it interviewed people that might have a say on the issue for months. Of the tens of people interviewed, only one veiled girl was invited to express her point of view. The rest were essentially people who thought that veiled girls were submissive women incapable of taking decisions by themselves and needed to be liberated by the Enlightened Them who knew better - even if it meant depriving those ungrateful ones who wouldn't accept it from education and excluding them from the rest of society.
Considering rights and weighting them against others? That's France you're talking about, where individual rights and liberties are definitely not high on the list of priorities in mentalities unlike anglo-saxon countries.
Just so that you don't think I'm defending the veil here, I hate it as I stated several times before, for many reasons. But a free country should make sure individual choices must be respected even when we dislike them. A free country is also freeer when it isn't a majority's authoritarian dictatorship, i.e. when it leaves some space for its minorities by reasonably accomodating them. The debate didn't even discuss those themes though, to France's disgrace, the whole issue was merely an anti-Muslim fest.
This is a weird, weird thread. The war on beards? I'm going to add that one to the list of suggestions I'll send to O'Reilly.
I also do not follow what Baal and dawud are on about, as they are in the habit of answering oddly phrased questions with even more oddly phrased questions.
The French hijab ban in public institutions is a big subject. It's not as simple as evil muslimhaters targeting common people. In Muslim ghettos, non-hijabis are subject to heavy group pressure by the self-appointed religious policemen, often in schools. This is a problem all over Europe, but particularly in France, because of their idiotic social policies that have ghettoized so many immigrants. I think the problem is the ghettos rather than the hijab, so the ban is off target IMO. Brutal solutions sometimes need to be made, but they also need to actually hit the mark.
One of the nice things about Christianity is that there is no apparel to signify how devout one is, helps keep the prejudices away. Except a crucifix necklace.
Posted by: Klaus at December 21, 2006 01:25 PM
True about our phraseology. What got to me was equating France and Turkey with Saudi Arabia and Iran. I think it utterly cuntish. One of my main goals was to show that it is more political than about controlling women.
And yeah, ghettos matter more than hijabs.
Thanks for the information. But then, Dawud's arguments would carry little weight in France anyway, right?
What do you think is highest in the list of priorities, generally? What do you think was highest in this case?
"Just so that you don't think I'm defending the veil here"
Nothing you said could have lead me to think that. Why do you hate it?
"when it leaves some space for its minorities by reasonably accomodating them."
Here, an interesting theme that seems to come back often, at least in Anglo countries. How does one determine when accomodation is reasonable? I can think of many clear examples where it's not reasonable but some more positive knowledge would be useful.
Posted by: BaalShemRa at December 21, 2006 02:10 PM
It's not as simple as evil muslimhaters targeting common people.
It isn't. But if you followed the pre-ban general hysteria, you'd have noticed that the actual issues were not discussed, and that yes, much amounted to either outright and open xenophobia, or to French Bien Pensant (kind of "I'm oh so enligntened and know better what's good for you").
In Muslim ghettos, non-hijabis are subject to heavy group pressure by the self-appointed religious policemen, often in schools.
Never heard of religious policemen there, France would definitely not let such a thing exist, even in ghettos. There's no French political correctness on that field that would make any government exercise any restraint in eradicating that kind of behavior. That said, the issue of pressure was mentionned a lot. Not to say it doesn't exist, but I've never seen occurences of it. I do know the ghettos, I have lots of friends coming from there, I've been there countless times. I have yet to come across a veiled woman who would tell me it's not her own choice. In fact, the general pressure in France goes the other way. Even though you might have a life (i.e. walk, breathe and eat) in a ghetto while being veiled, that's as normal as you can get. You can't really hope to find a normal job, go to a good university, have a normal social life, not be harrassed outside the ghettos, etc., if you are veiled. So even if such a pressure to wear the veil would exist within some ghettos, depriving women from an education that is a precondition for emancipation obviously exacerbates the problem instead of solving it, I don't know how anyone couldn't see that if the goal was really to help them. Not to mention the fact that it legitimizes making their lives miserable (and by extension that of many other visibly Muslim individuals as well).
Dawud's arguments would carry little weight in France anyway, right?
Unfortunately, you're right. Not that it means I disagree with Dawud - the parallel he made is a matter of degree. In the end, religious or securalist fundamentalists both seem to have that wierd idea that virtue should be enforced upon others, and that virtue is a function of how many square centimeters of female skin should be covered/uncovered.
How does one determine when accomodation is reasonable?
That's another question. My point though was that this issue was simply not discussed. So there were no rights or freedoms that were weighted against anything to decide that they'd weight less in the first place.
Look, both Iran and Saudi are totalitarian states, and outside of Princes palaces and malls and American compounds, run most of their country down with mutawa (Jeddah remains largely under the 'Hawa' or modesty police) - but the concern is not solely one of magnitude, though. Even if Turkey and France police only government buildings, their citizens also enforce, with violence that I know of from first hand reports, their own dress code - unless threatening a woman if she doesn't remove her scarf isn't considered violence. The military police stand at the doors of Turkish Universities with guns, to protect buildings from headscarved girls. Right-wing French thugs and soccer gangs now assault headscarved girls on the street.
The actions of citizens may not be 'state policy', but they're often ignored by police and endorsed by politicians who emphasize Arab and muslim 'difference' and disregard all the French Republic's claims to integration and equality under the law.
Posted by: dawud at December 22, 2006 03:35 AM
Sorry to interrupt the France tangent, but there's something I really do not understand about this story.
The bus is de facto segregated in order to keep the sexes apart, so that there can't be social or physical contact between men and women who aren't married or related? In that case, wouldn't the men who physically attacked Miriam Shear be doing exactly what the segregation of the bus is intended to prevent - touching a woman?
Posted by: Fernmonkey at December 22, 2006 04:46 AM
apparently, some of the buses are 'meshearim' or de-facto divided, but those (apparently half of those on that run to the Western, Wailing [more reason to do so now] Wall) are divided, so that the front half is for men, the back half for women. This is not enforced by the bus line, but generally understood, and there are apparently 'excited civilians' (the 'Michigan Militia' of Judaism or the private brigade of the Saudi Haya'a) who take it upon themselves to inform others of the division barrier. In this case they used force. The irony involved is that the claim from Israel is that they've got a religious state without evil fundamentalists, unlike the surrounding Arab states. This story makes one reconsider the argument that 'Israel is in the Middle East, but not *of* it'.
Posted by: dawud at December 22, 2006 06:42 AM
first, thanks for your input, you should post some more, it's always valuable to read what you have to say.
Second, what you say about France confirms what my cousins tell me. I have no first-hand experience there - and know too little - but they do. France sounds markedly different re immigration from the Germanic countries.
Third, by 'self-appointed religious police', I mean that very informally. Examples would be boys and young men forcing 6-year old girls to observe Ramadan by fasting and wear veils, that kind of thing. Harassing Muslim girls who go out, calling them whores. Places where non-hijabis are spat on, subjected to the same harassment that hijabis are elsewhere. The worst ghettos where the hopelessly disempowered males control their own neighborhood to compensate.
In Germanic countries, there certainly has been a PC reluctance to engage with immigration problems until recently. Unfortunately, the alternative is often blatant racism. The polarized debate. I have problems with both, because neither is able to see beyond skin colour. The anti-racist argument goes as follows:
1. There are no problems with immigration.
2. If there are, it's because of white racism.
3. The solution is to marginalize and deride those who criticise immigration, because they are racists by definition.
In Denmark, the right-wing government, with the backing of the anti-muslim nationalist party Dansk Folkeparti, has actually done far more for immigration than the Social Democrats did during their eight years in power before that, precisely because they do not shy away from the issues at hand.
Best example: In 2000, because the right-wing gov. made it permissible to collect and use sociological data along ethnic and religious lines, it was revealed non-western immigrants arranged marriages with someone from their homeland in 70% of all their marriages. That's quite hefty. The gov then introduced the '24-years rule' which decreed no one could marry a foreigner until the age of 24. Brutal and ugly legislation, but it fucking works. The number is now down to 45% and falling, and a recent (non-gov) report predicted the ghettos will start emptying out in a few years.
Posted by: Klaus at December 22, 2006 07:22 AM
SP, I believe there now is some sort of Israeli 'inter-faith council' of conservative Jewish, Muslim and Christian religious figures to promote a 'traditional values' agenda. I believed they were formed in part to ban that Pride march in Jerusalem a few months back. On the plus side, they've condemned the Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran.
Posted by: Antiquated Tory at December 22, 2006 08:26 AM