Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Caged Virgin

…Islam sets us apart from the rest of the world, the world of non-Muslims. We Muslims are chosen by God. They, the others, the kaffirs, the unbelievers, are antisocial, impure, barbaric, not circumcised, immoral, unscrupulous, and above all, obscene; they have no respect for women; their girls and women are whores; many of the men are homosexual; men and women have sex without being married. The unfaithful are cursed, and God will punish them most atrociously in the hereafter.

What happened to be a quick ten-minute browse through Exclusives the other evening, has landed me with a book that has caused my view on a top global issue to turn 180 and now be seen in a whole new light. And that was just after the preface.

By the end of the first chapter, I was worried that either an Allah-sent lightening bolt was going to strike me down or some fundamentalist Muslim would jump through my window ready to detonate. That is how intense this female author’s words are against the religion and way of living into which she was born.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia. She escaped an arranged marriage and fled to the Netherlands. She is there now, a member of their Parliament, and wow, but is she speaking out. She is under 24-hour guard because of her criticisms towards her religion of birth – Islam.

A man, Theo Van Gogh, who was helping her make a film about women and Islam…obviously not exactly in an endearing light….was murdered because of their project. He was speaking out in a country that allows for free speech, for reflection, and criticism of the powers-that-be. Against a religion that sees itself to surmount national borders.

Hirsi Ali’s book, The Caged Virgin, speaks out against a religion that refuses to look at itself critically. But it tries to exist within a global setting that promotes independent thought, critical evaluation, and equal gender rights.

As bloggers, we are aware of those people in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe who are in danger simply for posting their ideas and/ or experiences on the internet. Imagine if with this simple post I pissed off the wrong guy or group, and then what… I used my rights to speak up. Someone of a different cultural opinion took offence.

Who is allowed to dominate, take charge and guide the results of the situation?

Of course there is not right or wrong when it comes to cultures, that is why Western countries and cultures speak of “multiculturalism” when we hear stories of female circumcision (or mutiliation?) and female subservience (or is that oppression?).

Hirsi Ali criticises us for this too. She speaks out against those of us who say, “Each to their own” – but would never live that “Other” way of life ourselves. The multiculturalists, in fact, see the “Other” as the victim, and themselves still as the superior, who now is the protector. But the protector of what??

“Through their anxious avoidance of criticising non-Western countries, they trap the people who represent these cultures in a state of backwardness”.

When I lived in France I became incensed with the way the Maghreb men treated us “Western” women. Me being the not-so-quiet chick I am, I…uhhh…. “spoke” up. I ended up in more than one screaming match with some of these lecherous men. Once it was to the point that he was kicked out of the café and I was made to sit inside until we were sure it was safe for me to go.

I am not a whore. And I refuse to be treated as such or looked upon in this light. At the same time these men did not come over to France for a “cultural experience”. They came over to make money and to live a better way of life.

So who dominates in this situation? Who is allowed to have the outcome be to their liking? There is no right or wrong when it comes to culture remember.

“In principle, all Dutch Muslims have the same human rights, but owing to outdated religious opinions, they are scarcely capable of implementing these rights. It is mostly women who are affected…”

In the same way that in SA people who criticise the crime situation are told to leave, must those Muslim men and women around the world who detest or wish to review the “outdated religious opinions” be forced entirely out of Islam?

I can’t wait for Chapter Two.

[All of this was written on minimal sleep, through a head & eyes of at least 2 bottles of Jolly wine, some shots, some gin, some pub fighting & laughing. My body and I are at war. I am trying to beat it into submission. It is not surrendering easily.]


Jam said...

Your poor body.
I wrote a post today about how it feels as though the world is becoming more isolated rather than more open as our experiences online would suggest. People's beliefs about the "other" are simply too strong, to limiting to allow for us to truly be open and free...

chewthecud said...

Ooooh watch out girl. You picked on the islam. They'll kill you. Those phukers don't mess around. Rather pick on christianity. They let anything slide.

Triggermap said...

Hirsi Ali has actually had to move to America because of some immigration scandal in the Netherlands, about how she lied to get into the country. The Theo van Gogh murder fascinated - I haven't seen their movie, but i believe she wears a transparent burqa in it :P

DaveRich said...

Okay Champs... Its not long to go before you can have tequila again. Hang in there and soon the cactus juice will work its wonders through your system again.

Champagne Heathen said...

Jamaloni - this body needs to be put in its place!

I have wondered if the closing in, and trend of fundamentalism & "localism" is not an initial involuntary reaction to the globalising of the world. Like when we get to know people - we open ourselves up, draw back when you get closer, observe, open up & continue at baby steps.

Chews - And they kill YOU for making them out like angry violent irrational people! Good Luck to you too then!

Trigger - thank you for the update! Fascinating to hear about. She is def. a woman I am hoping to keep learning about & watching - even in a transparent burqa!

DaveRich - Oooo, maybe don't say tequila today! Ouch.

Yours Truly said...

as long as you hold off on any cartoons you should be ok ;)

Revolving Credit said...

'The Caged Virgin' sounds like a strip club, maybe thats why they're trying to stone her???

Champagne Heathen said...

'Ey ey ey. Careful where both Yours Truly & Rev put those comments! I am already in enough trouble from the post. I don't want to have added anger thanks to my dodgy commentators.

Revolving Credit said...

Champs, maybe if you wear a burqa no-one will recognise you. See, it has its benefits.

Yours Truly said...

twas meant in no inflammatory way whatsoever. humblest apologies.

Inyoka said...

You will also enjoy The Trouble with Islam Today by Irshad Manji (Mainstream Publishing). Also try Brick Lane by Monica Ali (a novel set in London's largely Bangladeshi area.)

Champagne Heathen said...

But Rev, half my powers are gained from being able to expose my cleavage at strategic moments.

Your Truly - no no, no offense was taken. Well...not from you anyway! I had a good chuckle about the cartoons.

Inyoka - Thanks for the recommendations!! Although I should not be allowed near bookstores right now - considering how many I have next to my bed waiting to be read! So many books, so slow a reader!

Don't believe a word I write said...

"Brick Lane" was really tremendous. It was actually quite terrifying at times, but I also ended up feeling some sympathy for the husband character. Definitely worth a read!

kabintsimbi said...

Sherbert...how hectic is this topic! The concept of 'othering' is a convo on its on own! It's all so interesting, I think I may just go get this book now!

I agree with the whole idea of multiculturalism & the fact that we live in a world where there are many religions that clash or just plain get along, and this applies to cultures too...point I'm trying to make is that yes, the whole world has to accept all these differences, whether they like it or not!

The problem is this, if I were to go to an Islamic nation, I would respect their ways (well I would like to think so) & would not wear revealing clothes etc etc...you catch my drift. So as an outsider, I'll conform as best as possible! But reverse this & it's completely different. Muslims are living in 'westernised' way of the world...i.e countries like America, London, Berlin & France to name a few, & yet they expect us to drop all of our ways to make way for theirs? I find this bullshit! Of course, wear your burkah etc, attend Mosque etc but don't expect us to not maybe look at it you in an odd way if you are walking through a shopping center dressed head to toe in black gear that only shows your appendages & eyes! Don't expect us to not fight when you want to change the ways of schools etc ( i refer to the case in England recently!) I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is no acceptance of another culture or religion but rather a constant antagonism re: the ways of the western world!

In my opinion, if you don't like it then bugger off & stop trying to change our ways!


ps: I have nothing against Islam...it's only the extremists who piss me off! And the men!