October 16, 2003


A King's Appeal (Jim Hoagland, Oct. 16, 2003, Jewish World Review)

"How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence and marginalization, notwithstanding the dignity and justice granted them by our glorious religion?"

The irrefutable logic about the high cost of institutionalized gender discrimination was voiced by Morocco's King Mohammed VI last Friday at the opening of Parliament in Rabat. He then outlined far-reaching changes in family and divorce laws for the kingdom that would effectively lessen the intrusive reach of religious authorities into gender issues. [...]

[M]ohammed VI outlined highly specific remedies and committed both his religious and political authority to getting them enacted. And he repeatedly invoked the language of the Koran to denounce the unfairness of polygamy, marriage contracts, guardianships and divorce laws as they are practiced in his country and by implication elsewhere in the Muslim world.

As befits a 40-year-old monarch whose followers call him "the Commander of the Faithful" and who claims descent from the prophet Muhammad, the king argued that solutions can and should be found in Islam. But his words also implicitly acknowledged that Islam has been deformed into an instrument of repression in much of the Arab world and elsewhere. [...]

Mohammed VI provides a standard to which Arabs, Iranians, Pakistanis and others can and should be held. They are not being asked to live up to Western standards by improving the opportunities and lives of "their" women. This is a descendant of the prophet, not Gloria Steinem, who is telling them that they must change or fall ever deeper into self-destructive decline.

If I recall correctly, it was Ataturk who said that for Islam to attempt to compete with the West without granting its women equality would be like trying to fight with one arm tied behind its back.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 16, 2003 9:45 AM

This is exactly the type of thing that makes me happy to be human.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 17, 2003 12:44 AM