Published On:21 January 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Women are a soft target

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

It has always been the woman’s fault. At least that’s what history tells us. From the times of the Pharaohs when Semiramis was maligned for her fondness for using make-up to adorn her looks and called a “painted harlot” by religious clerics, extremists have invariably targeted women for one reason or the other.

This was also the case in Salem, Massachusetts in New England in the 17th century when the Puritan society exhorted by Samuel Parris, Salem’s first ordained cleric preacher, accused women of practicing witchcraft and condemned them to the gallows. Many women were hanged, charged by the fervor of religious extremists, while others were buried under heavy stones where they succumbed to the weight of the stones and eventually died. Some died in prison waiting for their fate, all the targets of the Puritan dominated society of the times.

And today, one of India’s leading Hindu religious clerics has focused his aim on the Delhi girl who recently died as a result of injuries sustained when she was brutally attacked and raped in a public bus in the capital city by half a dozen men, an incident that drew international attention. The spiritual cleric, Guru Asaram Bapu charged that the dead girl was as guilty as those who inflicted the barbaric assault on her.

The spiritual leader is followed by millions of devotees all over India and his statements carry a lot of weight to his followers in the 360 ashrams (churches) in the country. And so when he declared that “Only five or six people are not the culprits. The victim daughter is as guilty as her rapists... She should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop... This could have saved her dignity and life. Can one hand clap? I don’t think so,” he was in effect condemning her memory to being an accessory to the crime she was a victim to. He also added that he was against harsh punishment for the accused, claiming that they would be denied their right of law. “We have often seen such laws are made to be misutilized.”

Such religious fanatics hijack the true meaning of their religion and distort it to suit their own myopic views. I have not studied the Bhagavad Gita, the holy book for Hindus, but I doubt very much that it would demean women or reduce them to non-entities in its scriptures.

This attack by extremist figures who craftily use the cloak of religion to disguise their twisted ideology and promote their warped thinking is prevalent in many parts of the world. In some countries it is practiced under wraps as state laws grant women full rights. In other countries where the laws regarding women are not fully identified or known, such deviants use religion to vent their abominable hatred toward women by using scripture or a phrase from holy books. Attacks against women who cannot defend themselves or are not given the opportunity to do so, then become their crusade.

In this country we have not been immune from such dangers. Extremism has led to acts of terrorism in the Kingdom and outside during the past two decades as our youth were led onto the path of destruction by warped and twisted ideologies, wrongly using religion as the call to take up arms and enlist for an imaginary jihad.

Similar bands of extremists have invaded book fairs or literary events unannounced and uninvited over the years and shooed everyone away, claiming that such events were un-Islamic. Some even insisted that participation in sports was an evil pastime and the work of the devil.
Extremists have also not relented in their attacks on women. They have accused Saudi nurses serving in an honorable profession of being “soiled women”, and have stood firmly against the idea of women being employed in the professional field. Notwithstanding the fact that the country needs the cadre of its educated women to foster progress, such extremists have been an impediment to the progress of women, invariably using the veiled threat of religion against such women.

Others have issued edicts declaring that permitting women to educate themselves, or to work, or even to drive to work is akin to inviting Satan into one’s home. There have also been some derisive comments on the different types of cloaks (abayas) women use to cover themselves. One person even threatened a minister with a “death prayer” for daring to open up new professions for the working woman.

Yet, rarely do these fanatics bother to focus on the heavy issues facing our society today, such as the proliferation of administrative corruption, the disregard of traffic laws, the delayed or non-payment of wages to workers, or a host of other ills. Instead, their target is women, women and women.

The government has demonstrated a remarkable degree of vigilance in its stand against fanatics and extremism. The dangers are obvious, and religion must not be allowed to be distorted to promote their warped ideology. Women are not the enemy and should not be used as targets.

[The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com Follow him on Twitter: @talmaeena]

(Courtesy: Saudi Gazette)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on January 21, 2013. Filed under , , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on January 21, 2013. Filed under , , , , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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