October 25, 2007

Re: Donna M. Hughes: "Women's Rights and Political Islam"

Monique Chartier

On a side note, it struck me as a little incongruent Tuesday evening to be attending, at the urging of a conservative blog (Anchor Rising), a lecture on women’s rights hosted by a Republican organization (the URI College Republicans). Before then, I had not particularly associated the right side of the political spectrum with an interest in women's rights.

Professor Donna Hughes explained in detail at the beginning of her lecture that the subject - political Islam - was not a religion but a political movement, a political movement spreading into other countries including many in the west, which tightens its grip on power by repressing and inflicting violence on the people it rules. And it is almost always signaled early by the degradation of women's rights, beginning with a requirement of women to cover themselves.

Two of many examples of this encroachment would be London, or "Londonistan", and a proposed but fortunately quashed Islamic court for civil issues in neighboring Canada, which court by definition would have been heavily "patriarchial" (a lovely euphemism for "weighed against the woman") . Without minimizing the danger of this encroachment, I would note from this 2004 FrontPage Magazine article that it has also not gone unchallenged:

... the Netherlands has just put a four-year moratorium on all immigration, including “asylum seekers”, has stopped schooling Muslim children in the home language of their parents/grandparents, and has closed down many of its Muslim community centers. And France is banning the headscarf on school property and is shoveling undesirable imams out of the country at a rate of knots.

Professor Hughes pointed out that too often, when someone from the West hears of the barbaric acts of punishment carried out under Islamic law – whippings, stonings, beatings – the reaction is a tempered rather than an outright condemnation: “that’s terrible … but … that’s their culture”. Such a response arises out of the surprisingly (to me, at least) corrosive effect of multi-culturalism, which often has allowed tolerance to devolve into an aversion of the eyes:

Today, advocacy for multiculturalism has replaced support for universalism. Universalism is based universal principles of human rights, equality, freedom, and democracy ...

Today, these visions and commitments to universal equality among people have become secondary to advocacy for multiculturalism. Embedded in multicultural ideology is cultural relativism, the principle that all cultures are equal, must be respected, and cannot be criticized. …

One cannot advocate for relative rights and freedoms without rejecting universal principles of freedom and rights. If you unconditionally accept and respect other cultural and religious practices, the first group that always loses is women.