When a Woman Becomes ‘a Car Without a Lock’!
Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, July 10
The problem with the popular Egyptian preacher Abdullah Rushdi is not with his destructive ideas pertaining to Islam. Islam is an ancient religion that will not be destroyed by fanatic clerics. The problem with Rushdie is that he puts words in the mouths of millions of young Egyptians, especially those who are undereducated and impoverished. These young men and women repeat Rushdie’s statements without any critical thinking or social awareness. Like a sponge, they absorb anything he says, amplifying his messages of ignorance and hatred. It doesn’t really matter that Al-Azhar authorities disavowed Rushdie and ejected him from their ranks. The young preacher continues his work even outside the institution, claiming to speak on behalf of Egypt’s religious authorities. He uses deceitful and intentionally ambiguous language in an effort to spew hatred. For example, Rushdie recently claimed that Christians are “infidels” and implied that it is legitimate for Muslims to burn down churches and openly massacre Christians. When Al-Azhar attacked him for these slanderous stances, Rushdie denied the allegations, claiming: “I meant that they [Christians] disbelieved in my faith, just as I disbelieve in theirs.” Needless to say, his original message had already been proliferated by the masses before he issued this clarification. Unfortunately, today, Rushdie found a new group to pick on: women. In a recent interview, he claimed that women experience sexual harassment – and even rape – only because of how they dress. When he faced pushback from civil society organizations, Rushdie resorted to his usual linguistic sophistry, claiming that a woman’s clothing, alone, is not a reason for harassment; however, it is one of many reasons. He then proceeded to explain that “women are like cars”: that is, they can get broken into for many reasons, one of which is leaving the doors unlocked. A woman who dresses provocatively, according to him, does exactly that. You see, Rushdie doesn’t believe in male culpability. Men are nothing but instinctive creatures lured by the promiscuity of unveiled women, in his mind. Harassers are not harassers because of who they are, but because of who their victim is. Values, morals, and religious principles play no role in Rushdie’s world. The harassment and rape of women and girls is not an issue pertaining to sexual predators. These idiotic remarks are a shame to us all. They must spark outrage not only among women but among all Egyptians and Muslims. In Egypt and beyond. –Fatima Naout (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)