Reportedly offended by


A court in Egypt has upheld the three-month prison sentence given to the leading comic actor, Adel Imam, for insulting Islam in his films and plays.

Is that an accurate translation? Is that really what the charge is? “Insulting” Islam? How do you “insult” an abstraction? In English, at least, you don’t. You don’t “insult” capitalism or advertising or libertarianism or computer programming or socialism. You can only insult people. The word implies reception and reaction, which imply consciousness, and fairly elaborate consciousness at that. You can only insult something with a mind. Insult requires Theory of Mind.

The case brought against Imam by Asran Mansour, a lawyer with ties to Islamist groups, accused the actor of frequently mocking the authorities and politicians in his films and plays, and offending Islam and its symbols.

Imam’s movies regularly top the Egyptian box office and the types of roles he plays have varied enormously across his career.

Mr Mansour was reportedly offended by the film Al-Irhabi (The Terrorist), in which Imam plays a radical Islamist; the play Al-Zaeem (The Leader), a comedy satirising Middle Eastern autocrats; and the film Morgan Ahmed Morgan, which sees a rich businessman stand for parliament.

Egypt must have an incredibly flawed legal system, for such a case to make sense. One, why should the courts care what Mr Mansour was “offended” by; two, actors in movies are not necessarily responsible for the content of the movies anyway. Three, fuck off.

Poke the hatred in its eye

Mona Eltahawy pulls no punches in her Foreign Policy article on the hatred of women in the Middle East. She’s pissed, man.

I could find you a host of crackpots sounding off on Woman the Insatiable Temptress, but I’m staying mainstream with  Qaradawi, who commands a huge audience on and off the satellite channels. Although he says female genital mutilation (which he calls “circumcision,” a common euphemism that tries to put the practice on a par with male circumcision) is not “obligatory,” you will also find this priceless observation in one of his books: “I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it,” he wrote, adding, “The moderate opinion is in favor of practicing circumcision to reduce temptation.”

Notice that it’s the man who gets to decide; notice that he gets to decide for his daughters; notice that the daughters have no say; notice that this reduction of “temptation” is the elimination of sexual arousal; ponder the apparent lack of need to reduce male “temptation” by a similar form of amputation.

Just as regime-appointed clerics lull the poor across the region with promises of justice — and nubile virgins — in the next world rather than a reckoning with the corruption and nepotism of the dictator in this life, so women are silenced by a deadly combination of men who hate them while also claiming to have God firmly on their side.

Exactly. The religion makes it all ok, because after all, it’s religion – don’t look at me, it’s God who made the rules.

What hope can there be for women in the new Egyptian parliament, dominated as it is by men stuck in the seventh century? A quarter of those parliamentary seats are now held by Salafis, who believe that mimicking the original ways of the Prophet Mohammed is an appropriate prescription for modern life. Last fall, when fielding female candidates, Egypt’s Salafi Nour Party ran a flower in place of each woman’s face. Women are not to be seen or heard — even their voices are a temptation — so there they are in the Egyptian parliament, covered from head to toe in black and never uttering a word.

That I didn’t know. It’s…pathetic.


First we stop pretending. Call out the hate for what it is. Resist cultural relativism and know that even in countries undergoing revolutions and uprisings, women will remain the cheapest bargaining chips. You — the outside world — will be told that it’s our “culture” and “religion” to do X, Y, or Z to women. Understand that whoever deemed it as such was never a woman. The Arab uprisings may have been sparked by an Arab man — Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in desperation — but they will be finished by Arab women.

We are more than our headscarves and our hymens. Listen to those of us fighting. Amplify the voices of the region and poke the hatred in its eye. There was a time when being an Islamist was the most vulnerable political position in Egypt and Tunisia. Understand that now it very well might be Woman. As it always has been.



Delusions of choice

And now I’ll spell out exactly why I think the Collective Response is so wrong and bad.

The hijab is a statement of female subordination, and it’s also a statement of loyalty or obedience to a ferociously misogynist and coercive religion. Some people are “offended” to be told that. It doesn’t follow that it’s not true.

Women who wear the hijab without being forced are making a mistake, just as nuns are making a mistake in being nuns. Both sets of women are endorsing a religion that systematically and explicitly bars them from leadership positions in the religion and declares them subordinate and inferior overall. That’s a mistake. It’s not “racist” to say that. [Read more…]

A note was left

To expand on one part of the Adele Wilde-Blavatsky and the Collective Response issue…

Wilde-Blavatsky said at the beginning of her article

Last month, an American-born Iraqi woman, Shaima Alawadi, was viciously murdered in the United States. According to reports, her daughter stated that a racist note was left outside the family home before the attack. Alawadi’s death came shortly after another allegedly racially-motivated murder, that of African-American man Trayvon Martin. [Read more…]

You know what you can do with your collective response

Maryam points out, in agreement with Adele Wilde-Blavatsky, that the hoodie and the hijab are not the same. Wilde-Blavatsky published an article arguing that on the website The Feminist Wire on April 13.

What I take issue with here is the equating of the hoodie and the hijab as sources of ethnic identity and pride. The hijab, which is discriminatory and rooted in men’s desire to control women’s appearance and sexuality, is not a choice for the majority of women who wear it. The hoodie, on the other hand, is a choice for everyone who wears it. The history and origin of these two items of clothing and what they represent could not be more different; like comparing the crippling footbindings of Chinese women with a `Made in China’ Nike trainer. [Read more…]

It’s always priorities, isn’t it

Ah the Catholic church in Ireland – always shameless, always brazen, always ignoring the harm it does to other people while demanding infinite respect for itself. This time it has its mitres in a knot because a broadcaster said it had fucked things up in Ireland. Yes, and?

The Communications Office of the Irish bishops has demanded a full apology and retraction from radio presenter Ray D’Arcy after he told listeners “the Catholic Church, in many ways, has fucked up this country”…

Catholic communications chief Martin Long has demanded that the station and presenter retract the “insulting” and “offensive” comment on air tomorrow.

Oh has he. Has he really. The Irish bishops who concealed child rape and transferred rapist priests instead of reporting them to the police, thus enabling them to go on raping. The Irish bishops at the head of an organization that for generations imprisoned women in laundries to do slave labor for decades – an organization that made those women raise their children for three years and then hand them over to the “mother superior” and sign an oath “never to attempt to see, interfere with or make any claim to the said child at any future time.” The Irish bishops at the head of an organization that imprisoned the children of parents with no money for the sake of the cash the state paid them; an organization that starved the children and tortured them emotionally and physically. Those Irish bishops.

How fucking dare they.

H/t Robin.

Bruce on Day Four

A guest post by Bruce Everett

Day Four – Sunday: Last day of the convention proper…

I have to confess, owing to considerations arising out of personal matters not mine to recount, coupled with a genuine need for more sleep, I missed the first three speakers of Sunday’s presentations: Eugenie Scott, Tanya Smith and Annie Laurie Gaylor. [Read more…]

Strictness and violence

Maryam points out this helpful item: a speech last summer by Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, religious advisor to Ahmadinejad, explaining that human rights have no place in Islam. Oh. Well thank you; that’s what critics keep saying, and it’s helpful to have the corroboration.

Mesbah-Yazdi, the theoretician of violence, gave a new speech at the end of Ramadan (end of August) in which he criticized the opinion of those people who claim Islam is based on generosity and respect for  Human Rights.

Yes exactly! I’m always criticizing the opinion of those people too. I keep asking them to name just one place where that works out in practice – just one country where the government is “Islamic” in some sense and generosity and respect for human rights are running the show. Just one.

In this speech he said: “Democracy, Human Rights and the rights  of citizenship have no place in Islam.” He continued that there is no room for freedom of speech and thought in Islam, and that Islam is based  on strictness and violence. Muslims and those who convert to the religion of Islam must only adhere to the opinions of the leader of the  Islamic Republic, according to Mesbah. He continued: “Until a person has  converted to Islam, he is free — but democracy and Human Rights have no  meaning within Islam. Everything must be under the surveillance of the  government, even the way people dress. And if some people say otherwise,  they don’t know Islam.”

Tariq Ramadan please note.

“There is no room for freedom of speech and thought in Islam, and that Islam is based  on strictness and violence.” That really sums it up admirably. Two words do the job. That’s exactly what I fear and loathe about Islam-in-power: strictness and violence. That’s a horrible way to live; absolutely horrible. It’s very helpful of Mesbah-Yazdi to make it so clear for us. It’s not as if people can accuse him of Islamophobia! And they can’t pretend it’s Western racism, either.