Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Liberal Freedom - For a Few

I received an e-mail in response to my previous articles this week about liberal freedom and the niqab. It is too long to post in full here, but I will put it in the comment area of this post. A few excerpts:
... It has nothing to do with Islam or Muslims. ... Here's what the problem REALLY is: It is deeply offensive to the most fundamental feeling of people in free societies to see other people openly oppressed. ... To see degradation of another human being worn publicly and held up as a virtue of some sort is simply sickening to us. ... It may be a cultural norm elsewhere to mutilate the genitals of little girls, and considered a virtue; that is not the case here. ... It may be a cultural norm for men to have four wives - but polygamy is unlawful here, and disgusting to the majority of citizens.

.... what if people, for religious reasons, wore men’s clothing designed to expose the testicles, that women's clothing bare the breasts? Would we not all find this appalling? ... The dehumanization of women is obscene to us. To deliberately throw it in the faces of one's neighbours does more than separate - it's offensive. ...

... If people are going to emigrate to free societies, they must understand that they are guests and conduct themselves accordingly, at least in shared public life. Or, live elsewhere. I cannot help but wonder what it is that attracts immigrants to places for which they have such contempt. Please, be happy, perhaps somewhere else. ... Please don't confuse this perspective with any wish to hurt Muslims in any way. It's the custom that's offensive, not the person.

A big problem with this argument is the assumption that women are forced, or brainwashed, to wear the hijab or niqab. It happens and the pressure from a narrow-minded society is indeed increasing. But for many people it is also a choice, a personal step to fulfil their lives. I respect that.

I think we also need to reflect on the differences between some Muslim societies and some liberal societies in the West. The big difference is of course that the Muslim society is a developing society. Therefore, laws and practises that permits polygamy may be in action but it doesn´t mean the society at large are pleased with them, or that people actually use them. Where they do, it will change, in some places sooner than later. In contrast, in the Western society, people do not marry several spouses at once, but after each other. Statistically speaking, a marriage is not supposed to last ten years. Most children grow up with different sets of parents, or single parents. Sleeping with different partners, outside marriage, is considered normal. Regarding clothing that is exposing the human anatomy: women already show off their breasts and no one care too much when men is parading with pants that just about reveal the hair on their testicles. People get away with a lot, because it is a liberal society.

Unless you are Muslim, of course. If you want to wear items your are comfortable in outside your house, people like this e-mail writer freak out. Well, let them freak. It is my right in a liberal society to freak you out. My name may not be Vivian Westwood but I still have the right to wear what I wish. Even if you do not like it. Even if you have nightmares about all the horrors you imagine that I am going trough and that you soon will be experiencing once the people "of my kind" get their hands on you, drag you to the basement to cut your genetials and then marry you off to my uncles in Tehran. Dream on, because it will never happen outside your head and that is why my right to wear what I like is greater than your right to tell me it is not suitable "in your country."

Finally, immigrants are not guests, they are part of the society. With the same rights and obligations as everybody else. You can not dictate how they should live their lives more than they can say how you should go on with yours. You are not above them, they do not answer to you. That is the law. If people in Britain would grasp it, senseless debates about what "foreigners" can or cannot do would soon end. And the liberal society would again flourish.

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