Egypt and sharia law

Posted on November 2, 2006

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This is directed at those panting morons who converged upon my blog and my email lambasting the inhumanity of shariah law and blaming it for how infrequently sexual assaults are prosecuted in Egypt. I flatter these people, actually, in attributing to them so concise a criticism. It was confused muttering about how Muslims are the only people raping anyone around the world (I invite these people to look at the sexual offenders registry of any of the United States and see how many of them are Muslim, or cast a cursory look at non-Muslim Africa where rape is astonishingly commonbut why do I bother), and bullshit about how all Muslims see women as uncovered meat. Actually, that last was inherently illogical, because if it is in fact a mainstream Muslim view that unveiled women are provoking sexual assault, then you would think that Muslim men would respectfully avoid assaulting women who wear the veil and the niqab. But they don’t. And it’s not because of Islam; it’s because of a patriarchal culture that extends to most of the world that sees women and their bodies as meat for the snatching. Patriarchy is still everywhere, even in the west; but it has proved possible to rid the legal system of it to a large extent, even if it’s not possible to rid society of it.

I’m not saying the entire body of Egyptian law is ideally free of gendered norms; no legal system is. But while people are whining earnestly on Oprah about how oppressive sharia is to women, or writing wildly ill-informed books about the sufferings of women in the Muslim world, they should note that very few Muslim countries actually apply orthodox sharia law, because it does not accord with modern ideas, any more than Israel has implemented the equally regressive laws of the Torah into its codes.

Millenia-old religions are not known for their accordance with current human rights principles, and are only applied into legislation in a limited fashion. So if governments are not adequately protecting their citizens from sexual assault, it is usually because reporting such offences results in social stigma (as well as the low status of women in all patriarchal cultures), and because of an inadequate and corrupt police force, not because that government’s laws forbid it. Confine your speculative remarks to people, and don’t talk shit about laws you are ignorant of.

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Posted in: Egypt, gender, law, religion