“A selective fear of Islamists”

Oh the stupid…It just gets worse.

Samia Errazzouki also hated Eltahawy’s article. And she gave us this gem of wisdom as part of her argument:

Eltahawy  points to “hate” as the source and cause of the injustices committed against Arab women. She scapegoats the rise of the Islamists, but Maya Mikdashi debunked that argument a couple months ago:

“Gender equality and justice should be a focus of progressive politics no matter who is in power. A selective fear of Islamists when it comes to women’s and LGBTQ rights has more to do with Islamophobia than a genuine concern with gender justice. Unfortunately, Islamists do not have an exclusive license to practice patriarchy and gender discrimination/oppression in the region. The secular state has been doing it fairly adequately for the last half a century.”

You have got to be kidding.

Does “the secular state” stone women to death? Does it imprison or stone rape victims while letting their rapists go free and unstoned? Does it force women to wear a bandage over their head and neck on pain of whipping or a heavy fine? Does it arrest them for driving a car? Does it throw acid on girls on their way to school?

Is “the secular state” really on a par with Islamists? Is it really much of a muchness whether you live in Afghanistan or France? Pakistan or Germany? Iran or Canada? Algeria or the US? Somalia or Sweden?

Give me a fucking break.


  1. Allienne Goddard says

    You would make a stronger case if you responded to the actual quotation. The point Maya Mikdashi is making is that there isn’t a significant difference between Islamic and secular governments in the region. Is the Syrian government significantly less patriarchal than Saudi Arabia’s, for example? I don’t know, but quick googling does not suggest that it is greatly better, at least. Of course, Saudi Arabia is also an absolute monarchy, so even if you decided it was worse, it would be difficult to eliminate the other contributing factors that may well affect a social phenomenon as complex as systemic misogyny.

  2. mirax says

    That’s a nonsense argument in comment one. The secular dictatorships of Syria, Tunisia and before, Saddam’s Iraq, are often seen to be women and minority-friendly, even if superficially. Those who decry foreign intervention in the middle-east often quote the relative ‘progressiveness’ of the baathist model (based on a post world war 2 pan-arab socialist ideal ) in this area, so both you and Errazouki are off to a false start. The prevailing attitude of the baathist regimes has been that women deserve a shot at education and some sort of a role in public life despite the deeply conservative character of the region.

  3. wytchy says

    Um, OK. So because there was misogyny in a secular setting as well as under Islamist control, therefore it’s no right to criticize the misogyny of the Islamist controlled state?

    Do these people make a living by diverting the discussion from relevant issue of misogyny to nitpicky things like this to protect the “good face” of Islamist culture? What is the fucking deal here? I do not grok it.

  4. Allienne Goddard says

    Mirax, great, then Ms. Benson should make that argument, since it would be responding to the quote by Mikdashi she posted, rather than suggesting that Mikdashi was comparing European and Middle Eastern states.

    Wytchy, you’re a fool if you think that is what I was doing. It isn’t nit-picking to call someone out for misrepresenting another’s argument.

  5. wytchy says

    Alliene, I wasn’t referring to your post. I was referring to the quotation from Errazzouki. I’m saying it’s completely besides the point that there was misogyny in secular and non-secular government. It is diverting the discussion to point something like that out. It’s useless hairsplitting.

  6. julian says

    The point Maya Mikdashi is making is that there isn’t a significant difference between Islamic and secular governments in the region.

    Remember, when someone is using misdirection to dismiss your point, you must go along with it.

  7. Cassanders says

    If we limit ourselves to the region”, I would think it can be argued that the misogyny displayed also in “scularist” states:
    1) was less prominent than the surrounding more or less thocratic states
    2) the existence of said misogyny very likely, and to a large extent in fact was caused(sic) by the deeply rooted islamic culture in the area (despite government attempts to soften it)
    IF seems highly unlikely that the misogyny displayed somehow should be a relic from pre-islamic culture (IF one put forward such an argument, I would think comparisons with societies OUTSIDE teh region becomes relevant.

    In Cod we trust

  8. Bruce Gorton says

    I’m proudly intolerant

    The imam cries for the death
    Of the twitter blasphemer
    The rioters burn the temple
    Of a competing redeemer
    And when confronted they
    Howl out this screamer

    “You are so intolerant
    Just a colonialist ignorant
    Standing up is belligerent”
    All while sounding indignant

    And they wonder why atheists
    Are so terribly rough
    They voice in angry tones
    Truths that are tough
    And thus the moderate turns
    And says it is enough

    “You are so intolerant
    Just a colonialist ignorant
    Standing up is belligerent”
    All while sounding indignant

    But the new faithless stands
    Not so easily deterred
    Claims of stridency cannot
    A good conscience inter
    So taken aback hear the cry
    As quislings confer

    “You are so intolerant
    Just a colonialist ignorant
    Standing up is belligerent”
    All while sounding indignant

    And the Catholic Pope is roused
    Not against a rapist priest
    For that doesn’t offend him
    Not as much as secularism at least
    And his voice joins the chorus
    Snapping like an untamed beast

    “You are so intolerant
    Just a colonialist ignorant
    Standing up is belligerent”
    All while sounding indignant

    And so the evangelical preacher
    In his robbery of the poor
    Joins the rest in their rage
    Tells us all what for
    As he proclaims even the pagan
    Deserves rights more

    “You are so intolerant
    Just a colonialist ignorant
    Standing up is belligerent”
    All while sounding indignant

    But still we do not back down
    Their wrath won’t us stay
    The godly won’t clean their house
    So it is left to us to say
    That when all is said and done
    Our words will now play

    For we stand by witch children
    We stand up for their mothers
    We stand against the evil
    That attacks our gay brothers
    Because you have shown so well
    Neither you nor your god bothers

  9. says

    Oh, wonderful, more mindreading. More red herrings. More bad faith arguments. More making up other peoples’ motives for them.

    Sounds like Errazzouki and Mikdashi should all go out for drinks together to talk about the wicked vanity of those horrible, horrible secularists.

  10. Egbert says

    It’s a profound mistake to call Syria a ‘secular’ nation.

    The translation to the 1973 Syria constitution clearly states:


    Article 3 [Islam]
    (1) The religion of the President of the Republic has to be Islam.
    (2) Islamic jurisprudence is a main source of legislation.

    Which clearly contradicts Article 35:

    Article 35 [Religion]
    (1) The freedom of faith is guaranteed. The state respects all religions.
    (2) The state guarantees the freedom to hold any religious rites, provided they do not disturb the public order.

    Secularism means separation of church (or Mosque) and state, not separation of church and society.

    The constitution does not read like an enlightened document, but a piece of incoherent socialist propaganda.

    A new constitution has been drafted in 2012, containing the same Article 3 clause.

    It’s not a secular state!

  11. mirax says

    Egbert it is as “secular” as any muslim majority nation can get. There simply isnt anything better out there in the muslim world- not Malaysia, not Indonesia, not even Turkey.

  12. Egbert says

    Things would be ‘better’ if the Muslim world were to adopt ‘secularism’. I would guess that Turkey is a lot better than Syria right now.

    The problem with Turkey is the following:

    “Article 19 – No person shall be allowed to exploit and abuse religion or religious feelings or things considered sacred by religion in any manner whatsoever for the purpose of political or personal benefit, or for gaining power, or for even partially basing the fundamental social, economic, political and legal order of the State on religious dogmas. Those who violate this prohibition, or those who induce others to do so shall be punishable under the pertinent laws. In the case of associations and political parties the former shall be permanently closed down by order of authorized courts and the latter by order of the Constitution Court”–1961 Constitution

    That’s obviously designed to prevent theocracies, but it’s also a blasphemy law. It’s a pragmatic policy but compromises freedom of expression and criticism of religion.

  13. says

    What a stupid article of Samia Errazzouki’s! All the nonsense about the niqab, and how she couldn’t get the cover image out of her mind, and how the niqab has a long cultural history in the region, and that it is not about the sexualisation of women.

    But that’s exactly what covering women from head to toe does. It sexualises them even more than nudity does, as the picture posted by Aliaa Magda Elmahdy shows. The whole point of the body covering is that women are insatiably sexual. That’s also the reason for FGM. There’s an interesting book that I read many years ago, with a title something like Women and the Muslim Unconscious, that’s worth reading in this connexion.

    But then when she goes on to say that concern about Islamists is a result of Islamophobia, she’s really left the tracks and is involved in a train wreck. And her closing claim that

    The monolithic representation of women in the region, illustrated by an over-sexualized image of splattered black paint over a nude body, however, does nothing to rectify the position of women in any society.

    really is silly. Hiding the body sexualises, whatever you might say about other ways of clothing the body. The FP cover picture (and it occurs throughout the article too, doesn’t it?) is right on point. And to suggest that the Islamists are no different than secular regimes — even in the region, to the extent (very small) that they exist — is simply bullshit (in the strict meaning of that word).

  14. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Do these people make a living by diverting the discussion from relevant issue of misogyny to nitpicky things like this to protect the “good face” of Islamist culture?

    Well, that’s waaaay more important than bitchez. Bitchez ain’t shit. That’s why she wonders why we pay attention to violence against women when there’s violence against men to talk about!! Totally more important.

    It goes like this

    1) Cry “islamophobia” wolf
    2) Bitchez ain’t shit
    3) ???
    4) MY religion isn’t misogynistic. It totally loves women! Just don’t read the holy book!

  15. anne says

    There was a 5 minute feature re Eltahawy’s essay on BBC R4’s The World Tonight last night with Eltahawy and Prof Madawi Al Rasheed. Listen again at the link: package starts at around 32.20 minutes in. Shorter Al Rasheed: “Hate is not the right word to describe what has gone wrong in the Middle East…. I don’t know of any society that doesn’t try to control women’s sexuality.”

  16. Lyanna says


    And now Max Fisher: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/04/the-real-roots-of-sexism-in-the-middle-east-its-not-islam/256362/

    Yet another one who complains about Eltahawy being MEAN, while doing nothing to explain why she’s WRONG.

    He goes into an interesting historical digression about how colonial powers fomented misogyny in the Middle East, but that’s neither here nor there. Even if colonialism contributed to the existence of this hatred of women, it’s still hatred.

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