Archive for women

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson: “Wherever Women are Taking Over, Evil Reigns”

Posted in Feature, Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2012 by loonwatch

Rev.Jesse_Lee_Peterson_Women_evil

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

by Emperor

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is a regular guest on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program and is usually brought in to be the token Black man who comes on to legitimate and provide cover for Hannity’s “criticism” (i.e. thinly-veiled racism) of the Black community. Hannity also happens to sit on the board of Rev. Peterson’s organization, BOND. (h/t: Ali)

Rev. Peterson is quite the kook, and of course every religion has ‘em, but here he is bemoaning the progress women have made in the US, saying all of the social ills we have today are due to women:


So I guess Conservatives don’t just believe in the “Islamization” of society, but also the “womenization” of society?

As you can see he wants women to be stripped of the right to vote, taken out of positions of power and essentially returned to being obedient, child producing, housewives who obey and submit to men. He even ridicules his grandmother!

Can one imagine the reaction if an Imam had said something similar to what Rev. Peterson said? Wouldn’t Islam once again be cast as the uniquely and inherently “misogynistic” faith that is irreconcilable with modernity?

Will we hear similar attributions of misogyny and anti-women positions to Christianity now?

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, along with Robert Spencer also happen to be on the list of the Young America’s Foundation‘s (YAF) “Conservative speakers.”

Spencer has appeared as a guest on Rev. Peterson’s radio show, directly after Peterson’s anti-women screed. There goes Spencer and Geller’s so-called concern for the ‘human rights’ of women! They have no problem schmoozing with clerics who want to role back the right of women to vote but will gladly try to smear Muslims as honor-killing-pro-pedophilia-misogynists:

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Sexist Sermon: ‘Greatest Mistake America Made Was Allowing Women To Vote’ [VIDEO]

by Jacob Kleinman (ibitimes)

Frequent Fox News guest Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson drew sharp criticism for arguing that women should not have the right to vote in a sermon that was posted on YouTube in March. The minister argued that women are destroying American society and wield too much political power.

Fox News host Sean Hannity has invited Peterson to speak on his show several times, even after the offensive sermon was posted online.

Even News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, corporate master of Fox, disagreed with Peterson’s sexist rant according to theDaily Mail. He tweeted in response, “When? Women voting is best thing in a hundred years.”

“I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote,” Peterson said in the sermon.

Peterson even went so far as to associate woman in politics with evil.

“We should’ve never turned this over to women,” he said. “It was a big mistake. … And these women are voting in the wrong people. They’re voting in people who are evil who agrees (sic) with them who’re going to take us down this pathway of destruction.”

“And this probably was the reason that they didn’t allow women to vote when men were men,” he continued. “Because men, in the good old days, understood the nature of the woman. They were not afraid to deal with it and they understood that if they let them take over, this is what would happen.”

This is not Peterson’s first controversial and offensive statement. He previously said “thank God for slavery” because it brought African people to the United States.

Peterson has also stated, “Barack Obama hates white people, especially white men.” He argued that men should be legally permitted to hit their wives and expressed a desire to take “all black people back to the South and put them on the plantation so they would understand the ethic of working.”

During his most recent offensive statement, the sermon titled “How most women are building a shameless society,” he said women are incapable of making good decisions because they get too emotional.

“You walk up to them with an issue, they freak out right away,” he said. “They go nuts. They get mad. They get upset, just like that. They have no patience because it’s not in their nature. They don’t have love.”

Peterson appeared on Fox News last week after being invited again by Sean Hannity, and was confronted by Democratic commentator Kirsten Power, who called the sermon “misogynistic.”

“I have a responsibility to tell the truth,” replied Peterson. “You’re on the side of lies. Why shouldn’t I be on the side of truth? And it’s the truth that’s going to make us free. Somebody gotta tell the truth, so I’m going to tell the truth.”

Peterson is the president and founder of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, a group pushing a conservative agenda among African Americans where Hannity sits on the board, and its allied BOND Action Inc. In the past he has hosted a radio talk show and a cable TV program. He is well known for fighting against affirmative action and is a member of Choose Black American, a black group fighting illegal immigration.

Originally posted on What if they were Muslim?

Why Do They Hate Us? They Don’t.

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2012 by loonwatch

Mona Eltahawy, an Arab-American journalist, created a firestorm when Foreign Policy Magazine published her article “Why Do They Hate Us?”.  If you thought the they and us refers to Muslims and Americans, you’d be wrong.  In fact, they is Arab men, and us is women.  Her article is a stabbing critique of Arab culture, which she finds to be heavily misogynistic.

If that wasn’t provocative enough, she goes further: according to her, these Arab men hate women.  ”Yes: They hate us. It must be said.”  To prove her argument, she issues a challenge: “Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses [against women] fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion.”  The rest of the article is a recitation of that litany, interspersed with jazzy catchphrases such as “[w]e are more than our headscarves and our hymens” and “poke the hatred in its eye.”

There is no way to deny the basic premise that the status of women’s rights in the Arab world is abysmal.  Why then did Mona Eltahawy evoke such a hostile reaction from even the Arab women whose rights she seeks to protect?  The easy answer, one that Eltahawy and her supporters might argue, is that these women are simply brainwashed.  Too much “Islamism” in their little brains.  The problem with this argument is that it’s sexist.  It’s basically saying Arab women are too stupid to think for themselves.

The real reason that Arab women recoil after reading Eltahawy’s article is that, while she tries to connect to them based on their gender, she attacks other aspects of their core identity: their race, nationality, religion, and culture.  In fact, her racist (and somewhat babbling) screed is nothing short of a vicious attack on their entire civilization.

Eltahawy cites “a toxic mix of culture and religion” as the source of the abuses against women.  Oddly, she later says, “You — the outside world — will be told that it’s our ‘culture’ and ‘religion’ to do X, Y, or Z to women.”  Yet, it is Mona Eltahawy herself who is arguing precisely that.

By attacking their core identity, Eltahawy has succeeded in alienating her own audience.  Imagine, for instance, an American feminist arguing for greater rights for African women, while at the same time assailing the black race, African culture, and traditional tribal religion.  How receptive or thankful do you think these African women would be?  How pleased would the black or African community be if someone was writing articles about how backwards their culture is?

Mona Eltahawy’s article engages in trite, racial stereotypes.  Legitimate problems in the Arab world are sensationalized.  They hate women.  What an absurd exaggeration!  They have mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters–and it is reasonable to assume that, like other human beings on earth, they love them.

A man can love his wife and still abuse her.  He can have undying affection for his daughter but still wrong her in horrible ways.  But, by going so far as to say they hate women, Eltahawy has dehumanized them.  One recalls similar invective against Palestinian parents: they don’t love their children.  The message being sent is: they are worse than animals.

Women’s rights is an area of concern in many parts of the developing world, not just the Arab world.  Why single out Arabs?  Women face major obstacles in India.  Should we demonize the Hindu religion and the great Indian civilization?

Eltahawy lists off “a litany of abuses”, bringing up extreme cases to make her point.  By citing isolated cases and stacking them all up together, she ends up portraying an imbalanced and biased picture of the Arab world.

Racists don’t see nuance.  They lump all people of a certain group altogether.  That’s exactly what Mona Eltahawy does in her article.  She paints the entire people of that region–or at least its men–with one broad bush.  They hate women.  All 170 million of them.

In fact, not all Arabs are alike.  During my travels in the Muslim world, I saw all sorts of people, with a broad diversity of views.  I met conservative Muslims, liberal Muslims, atheists, Christians, Communists, hippies, you name it.  No sweeping generalization could be made about them (aside for, perhaps, their disgust of American foreign policy).

It is true that I was deeply disturbed by the mistreatment of women, religious and ethnic minorities, poor people, servants, and animals.  But, I also met people there–men, no less–who were also deeply disturbed by these things and would have no part in it.

Just as the viral Kony 2012 video drew criticism for reinforcing the idea of White Man’s Burden, so too does Mona Eltahawy’s article tap into historically racist Orientalist attitudes towards the Arab world.

By firmly pegging abuses against women to the Arab culture and Muslim religion, Mona Eltahawy’s article was nothing short of bigotry.  Indeed, one could hardly tell the difference between Eltahawy’s article and what could normally be found sprawled on numerous Islamophobic websites, such as Robert Spencer’s JihadWatch and Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs.  It is almost a surety that her article will be approvingly cited on such sites, which pit “our civilized, freedom-loving civilization” against “those barbaric, women-hating peoples.”

Had Mona Eltahawy been just any ole’ Islamophobe hacking away at the keyboard–had she been a Robert Spencer or a Pamela Geller–her article would hardly have made headlines.  It would have been just one of thousands and thousands of such hateful rants on the internet by anti-Muslim trolls.  But, like Irshad Manji and Asra Nomani, Mona Eltahawy has an official “I’m a Muslim” card.  That’s even better than the official “I’m an ex-Muslim” card that bigots like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Nonie Darwish proudly carry.  It’s probably even a step above the “I’m a former jihadi terrorist” gold card.  Eltahawy holds the platinum card and gets extra points for being a woman.

As other pundits have noted, Mona Eltahawy is–along with Irshad Manji, Asra Nomani, Tarek Fatah, Zuhdi Jasser, etc.–acting in the role of the “native informant.”  Monica L. Marks writes on the Huffington Post:

Why Do They Hate Us?” asks the latest cover of Foreign Policy magazine. Beneath the title stands a cowering woman wearing nothing but black body paint resembling the niqab, or full Islamic face veil.

Egyptian feminist Mona Eltahawy authored the article. Her central contention — that Arab Muslim culture “hates” women — resurrects a raft of powerful stereotypes regarding Islam and misogyny. It also situates Ms. Eltahawy’s work within a growing trend of “native informants” whose personal testimonies of oppression under Islam have generated significant support for military aggression against Muslim-majority countries in recent years.

Books by these “native voices” — including Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “Infidel,” Azar Nafisi’s “Reading Lolita” in Tehran, and Irshad Mandji’s “Faith Without Fear” — have flown off the shelves in post-9/11 America despite being roundly rebuffed by leading feminist academics such as Columbia University’s Lila Abu-Lughod and Yale’s Leila Ahmed. Saba Mahmood, another respected scholar, noted that native informants helped “manufacture consent” for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by serving up fear-inducing portrayals of Islam in “an authentic Muslim woman’s voice.”

Although such depictions have proven largely inaccurate and guilty of extreme generalizations, they have become immensely popular. Why? Because these native “testimonials” tell us what we in the West already know — that there’s something inherently misogynistic about Muslims and Arabs.

By stirring up our sympathies and reinforcing our prejudices, individuals like Ms. Hirsi Ali and Ms. Eltahawy have climbed to the top of the media ladder. Their voices are drowning out the messages of more nuanced, well-respected scholars.

Marks goes on to say:

Her fault lies in extrapolating broad cultural judgments from context-specific abuses, implying that Islam and Arab culture writ large are have toxically combined to create a hopelessly backward region that “treats half of humanity like animals.”

These native informants just tell us what we want to hear.  Their job is to increase hatred of Arabs and Muslims, something that is needed in order to sustain our multiple wars of aggression in that part of the world.

Native informants do not help fix the problems they point to.  Why, for example, did Mona Eltahawy choose to publish her article in Foreign Policy, an American magazine?  Why didn’t she write it for an Arab/Arabic publication, with a primarily Arab readership?

Instead she chose Foreign Policy Magazine, which was founded by none other than Samuel P. Huntington.  His famous Clash of Civilizations theory pit the Judeo-Christian West against the Muslim world.  How very fitting that Mona Eltahawy’s us vs. them article was published in the magazine he founded.

Eltahawy’s audience is clear:

You — the outside world — will be told that it’s our ‘culture’ and ‘religion’ to do X, Y, or Z to women.

Monica Marks writes:

 It is important for her readers, however, to understand the dangers of sensationalist coverage that over-simplify complex matters of gender, politics, and religious observance in Muslim-majority countries.

History is rife with examples of seemingly women-friendly arguments hijacked in the service of imperialistic and aggressive ends. While emotional and sensationalist portrayals such as this most recent Foreign Policy cover will sell copies, they do little to deepen our understanding of the contexts and conditions shaping women’s oppression in Arab countries today.

Indeed, the issue of human rights was routinely used by the colonial powers to justify the conquest and expropriation of land.  The Americas, including the land that is now the United States, was brutally conquered and stolen by Europeans on this very basis.  The indigenous peoples were portrayed as savages needing civilizing.  The white man would bring them “democracy”, “freedom”, and “civilization” (Operation Iraqi Freedom?).

In her article, Mona Eltahawi enumerates numerous abuses Arab women face.  However, none of these inhumanities–not even female genital mutilation–can be considered as problematic as the cannibalism and human sacrifice that the indigenous peoples of the Americas sometimes engaged in.  And yet, whatever failings the indigenous peoples had in their culture and civilization, it is now widely understood who the real savage was.

We can continue to pat ourselves on the back for how civilized we are, how free our women are, how we are so much better than them.  But, none of that will change the fact that we are the ones waging wars of aggression and occupation in the Muslim world.  We are the ones killing hundreds of thousands of their innocent men, women, and children.

It was in another article, also published in Foreign Policy with almost the exact same title–Why They Hate Us?–that Prof. Stephen Walt calculated the number of Muslim lives the U.S. has extinguished:  “a reasonable upper bound for Muslim fatalities…is well over one million, equivalent to over 100 Muslim fatalities for every American lost.”  To use a jazzy catchphrase of my own: mutilating a baby girl’s genitals is horrible, but dropping a bomb on her head is much worse.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Women in Parliament: Islamists in Tunisia Field More Women as Candidates than the Percentage of Women in the US Congress

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2012 by loonwatch
TUNISIA_Women_ParliamentTunisian Parliament–Nov 23, 2011

Whenever a Western power wants to invade and or bomb a Muslim nation one invariably hears about how the “women are oppressed in ________(insert Muslim nation of choice)” and “we must liberate them from the clutches of those evil, backward, misogynistic Muslim men.” That is one of the reasons we’ve termed the bombing, invasion and occupation of Muslim lands, the Greater Islamophobia.

Interestingly, when one analyzes say…the number of women in positions of power in countries across the world, we see the percentages of women in parliament to be higher in many majority Muslim nations than in parts of the West. [These statistics also buttress the fact that more Muslim nations have had female leaders, (Presidents, Prime Ministers) than the USA!]

Below we have a list of countries whose percentages of women in parliament is higher than the USA, which ranks a dismal 71st.

*Afghanistan (I have added an asterisk here because this nation is under foreign occupation and the results for many are not considered legitimate. However it is still interesting that Afghanis, some of the most vilified people in the world today when it comes to views of women vote for them at a higher percentage than Americans.)

Rank Country Lower or single House Upper House or Senate
Elections Seats* Women % W Elections Seats* Women % W
30 Afghanistan 9 2010 249 69 27.7% 1 2011 102 28 27.5%

Tunisia is not a surprise to many who know the country, but lets put these numbers into perspective. The Islamist party Ennahda won elections, they are known as “moderates,” but within the media, especially the Right we see an effort to translate Ennahda’s victory into a harbinger for the repression of women’s rights and other usual hoopla associated with Right-wing anti-Islam rhetoric. As the Angry Arab, As’ad Abu Khalil remarks, “I just figured that Tunisian Islamists fielded more women as candidates than the percentage of women in the US Congress.”

32 Tunisia 10 2011 217 57 26.3%

*Iraq

36 Iraq 3 2010 325 82 25.2%

Sudan

37 Sudan 4 2010 346 87 25.1% 5 2010 28 5 17.9%

Kyrgyzstan

45 Kyrgyzstan 10 2010 120 28 23.3%

Senegal

46 Senegal 6 2007 150 34 22.7% 8 2007 100 40 40.0%

Pakistan

47 Pakistan 2 2008 342 76 22.2% 3 2009 100 17 17.0%

Mauritania

48 Mauritania 11 2006 95 21 22.1% 11 2009 56 8 14.3%

Uzbekistan

49 Uzbekistan 12 2009 150 33 22.0% 1 2010 100 15 15.0%

Tajikistan

60 Tajikistan 2 2010 63 12 19.0% 3 2010 34 5 14.7%

Bangladesh

63 Bangladesh 12 2008 345 64 18.6%

Indonesia

65 Indonesia 4 2009 560 101 18.0%

Kazakhstan

66 Kazakhstan 8 2007 107 19 17.8% 8 2011 47 ? ?

United Arab Emirates

67 United Arab Emirates 9 2011 40 7 17.5%

All of the above nations did better than the USA.

Here are two Western nations who you’d think would have done better in the numbers and who wax eloquent about “women’s rights,” even using it as a pretext to bomb and invade nations:

61 France 6 2007 577 109 18.9% 9 2011 348 77 22.1%
71 United States of America 2 11 2010 434 73 16.8% 11 2010 100 17 17.0%

Of course some of the above Muslim nations still have low percentages, however my purpose here is not to draw conclusions but to add to the empirical evidence when it comes to the discussion of women, women’s role in Muslim societies and women’s rights.

As the battle over birth control, invasive procedures before abortion, etc. rages on in the USA, the above stats provide a healthy if sobering perspective to the belligerent discussion in the looniverse about Muslim women.

The Modern Muslim Woman is Who She Chooses to Be

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by loonwatch
Hijabi Surfer
Photo by: Sadaf Syed

My Life: the modern Muslim woman is who she chooses to be

By Maryam Ismail (The National)

Where did this image of the oppressed Muslim woman come from and when will this battle against it stop? Growing up on a diet of Saturday TV matinees, every “Muslim woman” I saw in the movies was a belly dancer with a lot of chiffon wrapped around her. Mata Hari, who was actually a Dutch divorcée who recreated herself as a Javanese Hindu princess, changed the world of exotic women forever. In the films of old it was the dance of the seven veils that would woo a man into revealing secrets of war. Today, it seems there is the idea that under one’s hijab lies some mystical inner working, one that needs to be covered up by another layer of normality.

This seemed to be the idea at a recent panel discussion called “The Role of Muslim Women in Society”. This discussion was part of the ICover photograph exhibit by Sadaf Syed at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization. This exhibit is a sort of official debut of the new American Muslim. This newly christened, hybrid identity is one that hopes to erase all ties with Muslim cultural, ethnic and linguistic history.

The exhibit tries to show Muslim women breaking the boundaries of so-called tradition. Muslimah rockers, surfers and boxers are some of the examples of the “modern Muslim woman”. OK, that may be well and good, but I am so tired of this conversation. Muslims are people and by virtue of this essential fact, they are going to do what they want. Perhaps some might wag a finger and proclaim this is un-Islamic. Others will argue that traditional (Islamic) ideology is a thing past and shout: “Come on now, get over it.”

iCoverPhoto by: Sadaf Syed

I am so over hijab hysteria.

Standing on the sidelines of this discourse is like watching a dog chase its tail with the sincere hope of catching it. And if he does, what will happen? More than likely, he’ll yelp and bite himself again for being so stupid. Why should it be a special event if a woman who wears a hijab decides to be a fencer or a ballerina? Is it out of the realm of faith? Some may not think so and others may not care. Then, there may be another premise: that wearing the hijab will show the world that Muslim women have arrived. However, I think that if this is the case, they may end up being the oldest debutantes at the ball.

This was the case during the panel discussion sponsored by the US Consulate in Dubai. On the panel were the fashion designer Rabia K, the media consultant Wafa KBR, the artist Najat Mekky and the US foreign service officer Marwa Zeini. The first three are Emirati women who have been successful in their fields despite their covering Islamically and came to discuss their experiences. I don’t want to steal my sisters’ thunder – they deserve their applause, because their journeys have not been easy – but they were managing their lives as they see fit, within the context of their circumstances.

“Muslim women should wear clothes that they can run and play in,” Zeini said. Was she trying to tap into my unconscious and force me to do battle with my former self? Just then, I got an uneasy feeling that someone was going to kidnap me the moment I stepped into the streets, and then announce the next day that I was miraculously freed by Brad Pitt and American values.

If anything, I wish someone would rescue me from this endless notion that a woman is nothing unless she aspires to run with the big boys or tosses her Muslim soul into the sea and declares she’s free at last. Can we please talk about something else?

Maryam Ismail is a sociologist and teacher who divides her time between the US and the UAE

Islamophobes Build Faux Memorial for Muslim Victims on Land that Muslims Cannot Own

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2011 by loonwatch
Aqsa Parvez

We here at Loon Watch have documented many of the perverse and reprehensible statements of those in the Islamophobic blogosphere. However, sometimes these loons take their disgusting behavior and rhetoric to another level. It is safe to say that these loons have a burning hatred in their hearts for Muslims and the religion of Islam, despite their hollow claims to the contrary (Pamela Geller claiming that she “loves Muslims” or Robert Spencer being pushed to say that Islam molds its followers to be moral and upright individuals).

Previously, Geller and Spencer attempted to exploit the Rifqa Bary incident to their advantage. However, their ridiculous claims that the girl’s life was in danger were dispelled by law enforcement who told all sane individuals that the parents were cooperating and posed no threat to young Rifqa. Despite the police’s claims to the contrary, the loons continued to use Rifqa’s situation to promote their hate fest against Islam and Muslims.

So it is nauseating to read that bigots like Geller and Spencer have decided to “honor” a Muslim girl named Aqsa Parvez who was murdered in 2008 by her father for not practicing her faith the way her father wanted. Geller used the opportunity to exploit the murder of this young Muslim girl for her anti-Muslim agenda by creating a “memorial” in Aqsa’s honor.  In reality, it is nothing but a monument symbolizing “everything that is wrong with Islam” in the mind of Pamela Geller.  She is weaponizing a young girl’s grave site.

Geller raised money, asking her anti-Muslim fans to support the erection of a headstone at the site of Aqsa Parvez’s grave in Canada. “All was going according to plan,” says Geller, until Aqsa’s family refused to use such a headstone from her.  What is amazing is that Geller didn’t seem to anticipate this, and instead raised $5,000 from her supporters anyways.  One wonders why she is so incredulous: does it take a rocket scientist to figure out why a Muslim family wouldn’t want to erect an anti-Muslim headstone on their daughter’s grave site?  A headstone funded by people who absolutely hate their religion?

Says Geller further: “The family (yes, the family that murdered her) had refused to ‘sign off’ on the headstone.”  The family didn’t kill Aqsa Parvez.  Her father and brother did.  They are both serving life sentences for her murder.  I seriously doubt they had any legal say in what is placed on Aqsa’s grave.  It was likely the mother who decided against using such a headstone.  One could hardly expect her to do otherwise, considering she is Muslim herself.

It is even doubtful that Aqsa Parvez herself would support the headstone.  It is quite possible, even probable, that Aqsa would renounce her self-proclaimed benefactor Pamela Geller.  Based on what we know, Aqsa was most likely still a Muslim, and never renounced her religion altogether.  Why would she want to associate herself with people who vilify her own religion and all its adherents?  Like many young Muslims, she might simply have been rebelling against a strict interpretation of Islam–a firebrand, conservative form of it.  Why is it a given that she rejected the entire religion of Islam, as Geller et al. would imagine?

After being rebuffed by the family, Geller shopped around for a place to erect a memorial and finally decided upon Israel.  Writes Geller:

I approached the JNF and worked to plant the Aqsa Parvez Grove in American Independence Park in Jerusalem, Israel, where the plaque before the grove will read: “In Loving Memory of Aqsa Parvez and All Victims of Honor Killings Worldwide.

The irony of the location perfectly encapsulates the absurdity of the whole thing.  The JNF, the Jewish National Fund, is a quasi-governmental organization in Israel that does not sell land to non-Jews, certainly not to Muslims.  Indeed, the JNF has been at the forefront of stripping Muslims of any land rights in the state of Israel.  Quite literally then, the “memorial” for Aqsa Parvez is built on land that she herself could never own.  She could not own her own “memorial.”

But of course that was the point.  The choice of Israel was intended to be especially inflammatory.  With very good reason, no country earns the ire of Muslims more than Israel, which illegally occupies and oppresses its Muslim population.  Choosing Israel as the site for this “memorial” is meant to give the Muslim world the middle finger.  It would be like the KKK selecting apartheid-era South Africa as the site to erect a “memorial” to honor victims of black-on-black violence during the 1960′s.  Nobody would take the KKK’s “memorial” seriously, and everyone would know that they don’t give two damns about the black victims.  The point would be to vilify black people, not honor them.  Likewise, the “memorial” for Muslim victims is not meant to honor them but vilify Muslims.

The idea of career anti-Muslim bigots creating a “memorial” for Muslim victims is truly a laughable notion and people should see through the thin fog of bigotry on display.  This faux memorial is a sadistic propaganda attempt by Geller and Spencer to exploit the death of a young girl for their agenda to link a disgusting crime to Islam and Muslims.

Rampant Sexual Harassment of Women…in the West

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2011 by loonwatch

Anti-Muslim bigots such as Robert SpencerPamela GellerGeert Wilders and co. love to trot out the talking point that Muslims (due to Islam of course) are unique in harassing and oppressing women. According to them, anytime a Muslim man harasses or otherwise assaults a woman it is considered a result of Islam or somehow encouraged by “Islamic behavior.”

This belief, however, is not limited to anti-Muslim bigots but has also crept into the popular imagination and perception of the mainstream. This was evident during the Egyptian Revolution when reporters, pundits and opinion-makers latched onto the Lara Logan incident as a marker for Arab and Muslim societies, viewed as monoliths that are separately “unique” when it comes to the treatment of women.

Take for example Bill Maher, who took the incident as an opportunity to explain why “our culture” is better than “theirs” (Arabs, Muslims). We reported on Maher’s comments at the time:

On his last show Bill Maher went on a speel undermining the Democratic character of Revolutions sweeping across the Arab world. Amongst his ludicrous statements he claimed “women can’t vote in 19 of 22 Arab countries,” that “women who have dated an Arab man, the results aren’t good,” that “Arab men have a sense of “entitlement,” etc. He also went onto forward the argument that “we are better than them,” justifying it by implying he is not a “cultural relativist.”

Such statements not only defy facts and logic, not only are they racist but they serve to undermine the truth about the status of women in the world today. Maher’s all too typical tirade covers up the fact that what is at the heart of the problem is not a clash of cultures or civilizations (the familiar “us vs. them” paradigm), or a simple difference in the degree of harassment.

Reality asserts that at the end of the day, women are mistreated across the globe, across cultures, races, and religions at unfortunately high and gross levels.

The website Stopthestreetharassment.com deals with the issue of harassment, and in its category on statistics does away with the myth that somehow “harassment” and “assault” are unique to men from the Middle East or Muslim countries. The report indicates that this is a world-wide pandemic ranging from such divergent places as India, Europe, Egypt, Latin America and of course…the USA.

In its report on Statistics, stop the street harassment informs us:

In one of the first street harassment studies ever conducted, Carol Brooks Gardner, associate professor of sociology and women’s studies at Indiana University, Indianapolis, interviewed 293 women in Indianapolis, Indiana, over several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The women were from every race, age, class, and sexual orientation category of the general population in Indiana and the United States. She oversampled women of color to better represent their experiences. Gardner found that every single woman (100 percent) could cite several examples of being harassed by unknown men in public and all but nine of the women classified those experiences as “troublesome.”

Using a national sample of 12,300 Canadian women ages 18 and older from 1994, sociology professors Ross Macmillan, Annette Nierobisz, and Sandy Welsh studied the impact of street harassment on women’s perceived sense of safety in 2000. During their research, they found that over 80 percent of the women surveyed had experienced male stranger harassment in public and that those experiences had a large and detrimental impact on their perceived safety in public.

Laura Beth Nielsen, professor of sociology and the law at Northwestern University conducted a study of 100 women’s and men’s experiences with offensive speech in the California San Francisco Bay Area in the early 2000s. She found that 100 percent of the 54 women she asked had been the target of offensive or sexually-suggestive remarks at least occasionally: 19 percent said every day, 43 percent said often, and 28 percent said sometimes. Notably, they were the target of such speech significantly more often than they were of “polite” remarks about their appearance.

During the summer of 2003, members of the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team in Chicago surveyed 168 neighborhood girls and young women (most of whom were African American or Latina) ages 10 to 19 about street harassment and interviewed 34 more in focus groups. They published their findings in a report titled “Hey Cutie, Can I Get Your Digits?” Of their respondents, 86 percent had been catcalled on the street, 36 percent said men harassed them daily, and 60 percent said they felt unsafe walking in their neighborhoods.

In 2007, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office conducted an online questionnaire about sexual harassment on the New York City subway system with a total of 1,790 participants. Nearly two-thirds of the respondents identified as women. Of the respondents, 63 percent reported being sexually harassed and one-tenth had been sexually assaulted on the subway or at a subway station. Due to collection methods used, the report “Hidden in Plain Sight: Sexual Harassment and Assault in the New York City Subway System” is not statistically significant, but it suggests that a large number of women experience problems on the subway system.

The author’s own studies support the pervasive and widespread nature of the problem of harassment that exists in the USA,

Nearly every woman I have talked to about this issue has been harassed by men in public. Further, every woman can cite strategies, such as avoiding going in public alone at night, which she uses to avoid harassment and assault. To learn more about women’s harassment experiences I conducted two informal, anonymous online surveys about street harassment: one in 2007 for my master’s thesis at George Washington University and one in 2008 as preliminary research for a book. Between both surveys, there were 1,141 respondents. Similar to the other studies conducted on street harassment, nearly every female respondent had experienced street harassment at least once.

In my first online survey, conducted during the spring of 2007, I asked the 225 respondents: “Have you ever been harassed (such as verbal comments, honking, whistling, kissing noises, leering/staring, groping, stalking, attempted or achieved assault, etc) while in a public place like the street, on public transportation, or in a store?” Ninety-nine percent of the respondents, which included some men, said they had been harassed at least a few times. Over 65 percent said they were harassed on at least a monthly basis.

Over 99 percent of the 811 female respondents (916 respondents total) of the second informal survey I conducted in 2008 said they had experienced some form of street harassment (only three women said they had not). In one question they could indicate the types of interactions they have had with strangers in public, here is a sampling of their responses.

  • Leering
    Ninety-five percent of female respondents were the target of leering or excessive staring at least once, and more than 68 percent reported being a target 26 times or more in their life.
  • Honking and whistling 
    Nearly 95 percent of female respondents were honked at one or more times and 40 percent said they are honked at as frequently as monthly. Nearly 94 percent of female respondents were the target of whistling at least once and nearly 38 percent said it occurred at least monthly.
  • Kissing noises
    Just over 77 percent of women said they were the target of kissing noises from men and 48 percent said they’ve been the target at least 25 times in their life.
  • Making vulgar gestures
    Nearly 82 percent of female respondents were the target of a vulgar gesture at least once. About twenty percent said they had been a target at least 51 times.
  • Sexist comment
    Over 87 percent of women said they were the target of a sexist comment, and about 45 percent said they’ve been a target of a sexist comment in public at least 25 times in their life.
  • Saying sexually explicit comments
    Nearly 81 percent of female respondents were the target of sexually explicit comments from an unknown man at least once. More than 41 percent have been the target at least 26 times in their lives.
  • Blocking path
    About 62 percent of women say a man has purposely blocked their path at least once and 23 percent said this has happened at least six times.
  • Following
    Seventy-five percent of female respondents have been followed by an unknown stranger in public. More than 27 percent have been followed at least six times.
  • Masturbating
    More than 37 percent of female respondents have had a stranger masturbate at or in front of them at least once in public.
  • Sexual touching or grabbing
    Nearly 57 percent of women reported being touched or grabbed in a sexual way by a stranger in public. About 18 percent said they have been touched sexually at least six times.
  • Assaulting
    About 27 percent of women report being assaulted at least once in public by a stranger.

These jarring statistics of abuse, harassment and assault upon women in the “enlightened, culturally superior” West should give us pause and a heavy dose of perspective on the meaning of that age old adage, men are pigs.

Once and for all let us quit the holier-than-thou hypocritical obfuscation of the facts and realities on the ground when it comes to women and harassment. Women do not feel safe on Western streets, not because of the “evil Mooslims” but because too many men are unable or unwilling to control themselves.

To rectify this pandemic we must not divert the truth but face it head on. Instead of resorting to racist diatribes, innuendo, hate speech and efforts to destroy a race, religion and culture, organize to stop the harassment and aid in creating a safe space for women in our societies as opposed to the present status quo on our streets.

I encourage everyone to visit StoptheHarassment.com and check out how to End It.

It’s Official: Bill Maher is a Racist

Posted in Feature, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2011 by loonwatch

How long will Bill Maher get a pass on his racism and anti-Muslim Islamophobia? Is it acceptable because the targets are Arabs and Muslims and because Maher is a comedian from whom outrageous things are expected?

On his last show Bill Maher went on a speel undermining the Democratic character of Revolutions sweeping across the Arab world. Amongst his ludicrous statements he claimed “women can’t vote in 19 of 22 Arab countries,” that “women who have dated an Arab man, the results aren’t good,” that “Arab men have a sense of “entitlement,” etc. He also went onto forward the argument that “we are better than them,” justifying it by implying he is not a “cultural relativist.”

No, Bill might not be a “cultural relativist” but he sure sounds like a “cultural supremacist.” His factual accuracy about the Islamic and Arab world is akin to Robert Spencer’s. It is patently false that “19 of 22″ Arab states don’t allow for women to vote, a brief trip to Wikipidea would have disabused him of that false fact:

Women were granted the right to vote on a universal and equal basis in Lebanon in 1952[46]Syria (to vote) in 1949 [47] (Restrictions or conditions lifted) in 1953 [48]Egypt in 1956[49]Tunisia in 1959 [50]Mauritania in 1961[51]Algeria in 1962 [52]Morocco in 1963 [53]Libya [54] and Sudan in 1964 [55],Yemen (Partly)in 1967 [47] (full right) in 1970 [56]Bahrain in 1973 [57]Jordan in 1974 [58]Iraq (Full right) 1980 [57] Oman (Partly) in 1994 and (Fully granted) 2003 [59], and Kuwait in 2005 [57].

The reality, (what is lost on Maher) is that even though nearly all Arab states allow for voting for men and women, their votes didn’t matter in the autocratic kleptocracies that littered the Middle East, and this is what Arabs — men and women — have been fighting against these past few months. It seems Maher just can’t handle all the myths he’s been pushing being shattered.

Bill Maher goes onto talk about how Arab men are bad spouses and boyfriends, to buttress his points he brings up “anecdotal” evidence and his opinion that Arabs have a “sense of entitlement.” How does Bill know? Has he dated Arab men? This is one of those things that is so ridiculous and patently unsubstantiated that it is beyond being laughable, you almost cringe with embarrassment for how stupid it makes Maher look.

Maher also seemed to use “Arab” and “Muslim” interchangeably, perhaps not knowing that a significant number of Arabs are not Muslims. While there are certainly problems in the Middle East and the Muslim world regarding the treatment of women, Maher judges Arabs and Muslims by their lowest common denominator. Ignoring countries such as Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan and others that have progressive legislation regarding women and which have had women presidents, prime ministers, parliamentarians, business leaders, sports icons, journalists, etc.

At the end of the day Maher needs to have someone on his show who can push back against the myths that he indulges in and propagates. Someone of the caliber of As’ad Abu Khalil or Juan Cole might be a good start.

You can watch the segment at Mediaite:

Bill Maher Slams Muslim Men’s Treatment Of Women, Gets Heckled By Audience Member

(Mediaite)

Maher was having it out with Smiley over relative treatment of women in Muslim countries and American society – Smiley didn’t argue that Muslim countries often exhibit poor attitudes toward women, but argued treatment of women in America has a long way to go, too. Maher called it a “false equivalency,” and it went on from there. Maher read off a list of the ways women are oppressed in Arab countries – in 19 of 22, they can’t vote; in Saudi Arabia they aren’t allowed to drive; etc.

Then, he got into slightly weirder territory. He asserted that “civilization begins with civilizing the men,” and then, after saying, “I know this is anecdotal” (not an auspicious way to start when you’re trying to make a convincing argument), unleashed this line:

“Talk to women who’ve ever dated an Arab man. The results are not good.”

Maher added they have a “sense of entitlement,” indeed quite the anecdotal piece of “evidence,” and one to which guest Michelle Caruso-Cabrera shot back, “Every man I’ve ever dated has a sense of entitlement.” And Maher kept on having none of Smiley’s argument that Americans shouldn’t act superior about treatment of women and rejected the notion he was “demonizing” anyone by saying Americans’ treatment of women is better:

“They’re worse. What’s wrong with just saying that?”

And it continued on like that until a guy in the crowd started yelling about Hellfire missiles…and yelling, and yelling. He rattled off so much so quickly (though most of it was tough to hear) that Maher guessed it was a prepared speech…a guess buoyed by the fact that the rant, as Maher also pointed out, indeed didn’t have a whole lot to do with what the panel was talking about. Video of the segment below – the interruption begins at the 5:32 mark.

 

“Blame the Muslims”: Violence Against Women in Egypt

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by loonwatch

The struggle to see through the obfuscation, racism and Islamophobia.

“Blame the Muslims”: Violence Against Women in Egypt

by Rachel Newcomb

(Huffington Post)

As soon as CBS announced yesterday that correspondent Lara Logan had been sexually assaultedwhile covering the Egyptian protests, the media sprang alive in search of a scapegoat. Two disturbing lines of commentary have emerged: one that cites irrelevant details about Logan’s beauty or her past sexual history, the other blaming Muslims or Egyptian culture for the assault. In theWashington Post, Alexandra Petri noted that this happened to a “known, blonde white woman.” And on her blog, Debbie Schlussel wrote that “she should have known what Islam is all about.” “This never happened to her or any other mainstream media reporter when Mubarak was allowed to treat his country of savages in the only way they can be controlled,” opined Schlussel.

But we would be wrong to assume that in controlling Egyptians, Mubarak somehow also kept women safe. In fact, state-sanctioned violence against women was widespread and well documented. For years Egypt has been cited by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for using rape, torture, and sexual assault to threaten and intimidate female activists who criticized the regime. These tactics were also used against female family members of dissidents. There is also considerable evidence that members of Mubarak’s security forces ordered the assault of female protesters during the recent demonstrations.

In times of conflict, the perpetrators of sexual violence cross religious and ethnic lines. An estimated 20-50,000 Muslim women were raped during the conflict in Bosnia in the 1990s. Closer to home, yesterday a class action lawsuit was announced by 17 American servicewomen who reported being raped by fellow members of the military. And in searching for spurious links between “American culture” and violence against women, we do not have to look toward military settings or exotic, war-torn locales. Take the most recent Super Bowl. Allegations of rape have hovered over both teams, while news agencies reported a disturbing increase in the sex trafficking of girls and women around the time of the Super Bowl. But we would chafe at allowing outsiders to generalize that all Americans exhibit violent tendencies toward women.

To be sure, sexual harassment is endemic in Egypt. And for the most part, we are fortunate to be able to walk down the street in the United States without the verbal and physical harassment that Egyptian women face on a daily basis. A 2005 Egypt Demographic and Health survey revealed that one third of Egyptian women are victims of domestic violence. Yet a 2010 study by the Population Reference bureau alsopoints out that poor women are twice as likely in Egypt to be victimized. Similar studies in U.S. society have shown correlations between poverty and violence against women. And across all social classes, the statistics are grim. A U.S. Justice Department studyshowed that 1 in 6 of all American women will be raped during their lifetimes. 50% of all murders of women in the U.S. are committed by a romantic partner. Muslim countries hardly have the monopoly on violence against women.

To read this brutal attack as emblematic of Egyptian culture or Islam does a disservice to all those in Egyptian society who are working actively to end violence against women, women like physician Amal Abd El-Hadi, whose New Woman Foundation is dedicated to ending gender-based violence, and Dr. Aida Seif El Dawla, a psychiatrist who has created programs to rehabilitate victims of violence and torture. There is no excuse for what happened to Lara Logan, but explanations for violence should not be found in a religion, or in broad generalizations about Egyptian culture. Rather than blaming religion, we should work to end underdevelopment, poverty, and a lack of education, problems whose eradication is crucial to a prosperous and healthy society anywhere, whether in Egypt or here at home.

Rachel Newcomb is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rollins College and the author of Women ofFes: Ambiguities of Urban Life in Morocco.

 

Britain: Pastor Tells Women to be Silent and Submit to their Husbands

Posted in Loon Pastors with tags , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by loonwatch
Angus MacleayAngus Macleay

If the words “Christianity” were replaced with “Islam,” Robert Spencer would be saying how all of this is confirmed by the Quran, blah blah blah. However would he be brave enough to say that what this English priest is saying is confirmed by the Bible?

Just imagine if a Muslim Imam had said that?

A British pastor offended his parishioners by encouraging women to “be silent” and “submit” to their husbands, The Sun reported Saturday.

Church of England reverend Angus MacLeay issued a leaflet to churchgoers saying that women should not speak if questions could be answered by their husbands.

The leaflet, entitled The Role of Women in the Local Church, adds that wives should “submit to their husbands in everything.”

It continues, “Wives are to submit to their husbands in everything in recognition of the fact that husbands are head of the family as Christ is head of the church.

“This is the way God has ordered their relationships with each other and Christian marriage cannot function well without it.”

Dozens of women canceled their membership at St. Nicholas Church in Kent, England, where married MacLeay is rector after the leaflet was handed out.

Last Sunday, the curate at the same church delivered a medieval-style sermon called Marriage and Women, telling women to submit to their husbands to make marriage work.

Reverend Mark Oden, a married father-of-three, told the congregation, “We know marriage is not working.

“We only need to look at figures – one in four children has divorced parents. Wives, submit to your own husbands.”

During the sermon, Rev. Oden also blamed “modern woman” for the high divorce rates in the U.K.

One female member of the church said she was “disgusted” by the sermon and will no longer be attending that church, adding, “How can they talk that way in the 21st Century?

“No wonder the church is losing touch if this is the kind of gobbledegook they want us to believe in.”

 

Orthodox Jewish Men Harass Women for Praying at the Western Wall, What if they were Muslim?

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2009 by loonwatch

western_wall

Interesting piece about challenging traditions in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette. In it we read about how some ultra-Orthodox Jewish men gather to harass women,

Across a partition, in the men’s section of the Kotel, a group of ultra-Orthodox men gathered to harass the women as they sang and prayed. The men shouted “Gevalt!” — expressing their revulsion in Yiddish — and called the women’s prayer an abomination. One or two threw objects and spat at them. In the women’s section, some Orthodox female worshipers joined in the insults.

Imagine if this had been Mooslims hurling insults at women, Pamela GellerRobert Spencer and the whole goof troop would be waxing on how this is “Islam” and just part and parcel of the “misogyny Islam preaches.” Will they cover this story?

Challenging Traditions at the Heart of Judaism

JERUSALEM — A struggle for the character of the Western Wall, this city’s iconic Jewish holy site and central place of worship, is under way, and it is being fought with prayer shawls and Torah scrolls.

On Friday, sheets of rain obscured the Old City’s ancient domes. But by 7 a.m. about 150 Jewish women had gathered at the Western Wall to pray and to challenge the constraints imposed on them by traditional Jewish Orthodoxy and a ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court.

Under their coats many of the women, supporters of a group of religious activists called Women of the Wall, wore a tallit, or fringed prayer shawl, a ritual garment traditionally worn only by men. Some wore their prayer shawls openly, an illegal act in this particular setting that can incur a fine or several months in jail.

Last month Nofrat Frenkel, 28, an Israeli medical student and a committed follower of Conservative Judaism, a modern, egalitarian strain, was the first woman in Israel to be arrested during prayers at the Western Wall, also known as the Kotel, for publicly wrapping herself in a tallit.

The police accused her of acting provocatively and in a way that upset public order. Ms. Frenkel said the investigation was still under way.

The Women of the Wall, who meet for prayers at the Kotel at the start of every Hebrew month, are at the vanguard of a feminist struggle in Orthodox Judaism and other more contemporary strains to adapt time-honored religious practice for the modern age. They came in droves on Friday, the first day of the Hebrew month of Tevet, to express their outrage over Ms. Frenkel’s case.

Anat Hoffman, chairwoman of Women of the Wall, which was founded in 1988, said she had never seen so many turn up in the month of Tevet.

“We are pushing the envelope. History is made of moments like this,” she said.

The group’s activities present a head-on challenge to the religious establishment, which is dominated in Israel by Orthodox rabbis who interpret and apply the rules of religious law in their strictest form.

The Kotel is defined in Israel as a national and holy site that is open to all. In practice, the women say, it operates like an Orthodox synagogue, with separate prayer sections for men and women and a modesty patrol to ensure that visitors are appropriately dressed.

Traditional Orthodox women pray individually, and quietly, by the Kotel’s massive beige stones, a remnant of the retaining wall of the mount revered by Jews as the site where their ancient temples once stood. Al Aksa mosque now sits on the top of the mount.

Critics of the Women of the Wall say that their practices — like holding organized prayers, singing out loud, carrying a Torah scroll and wearing prayer shawls — offend the more traditional worshipers at the site.

Twenty years ago, having suffered verbal and physical abuse as they prayed, the Women of the Wall petitioned the Supreme Court to have their right to religious freedom recognized, on grounds that the Kotel does not belong to the Orthodox establishment alone.

After a lengthy legal battle, the court ultimately ruled against the women in the interest of public order. Consequently, it is illegal for them to read aloud from the Torah or to wear prayer shawls openly by the wall. Instead, the authorities have allocated them a special area where they can conduct services in their own fashion, in an archaeological garden tucked around a corner, out of sight.

“These women come here like a persecuted group,” said David Barhoum, a criminal lawyer there on behalf of the Women of the Wall. If anything, he said on Friday, the criminal behavior seemed to be coming from the other side.

Across a partition, in the men’s section of the Kotel, a group of ultra-Orthodox men gathered to harass the women as they sang and prayed. The men shouted “Gevalt!” — expressing their revulsion in Yiddish — and called the women’s prayer an abomination. One or two threw objects and spat at them. In the women’s section, some Orthodox female worshipers joined in the insults.

Jewish religious law is open to interpretation. The Women of the Wall argue that even according to some Orthodox opinions, they are doing nothing wrong.

“Women are exempt from carrying out certain commandments, but not forbidden,” said Ms. Frenkel, who kept her prayer shawl hidden beneath her jacket by the Kotel this time around.

But the rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, said “there is no value to prayer that creates controversy and offends other female worshipers” at the site.

The dispute is not about interpretations of religious law, he added, but about the sanctity and the accepted custom of the place. “On Friday the heavens wept,” he said.

Others saw the rain as a blessing in this parched land. The downpour was “so fitting,” said Simonne Horwitz, an assistant professor at the University of Saskatchewan in western Canada, who said she had flown in especially for the event.

By and large, the inclement weather was on the side of the police who were sent to uphold the law and keep the peace.

There had been a plan for the women concealing their prayer shawls to open their coats, but Ms. Hoffman said most did not want to because of the storm.

Plans to take out a Torah scroll at the Kotel, and perhaps to read from it, were also aborted for fear the parchment would be damaged by the rain. Even so, one of the scrolls ended up with water stains.

Whether or not it was an act of divine intervention, the deluge allowed everyone to claim victory — the drenched women, their detractors and the police. The women were obviously wearing prayer shawls at the wall, but no arrests were made.

 

Robert Spencer Rapes the Truth, Part 1: Does Sharia Reject the Testimony of a Rape Victim?

Posted in Feature, Loon Sites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2009 by loonwatch
Robert SpencerRobert Spencer, the author of the Islamophobook The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)

This is a rebuttal of chapter five of Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), which is entitled “Islam oppresses women.” On pp.74-76, Spencer claims that the Sharia rejects a rape victim’s testimony.

Robert Spencer’s Claims

Says Spencer in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades):

Rape: Four witnesses needed

Most threatening of all to women may be the Muslim understanding of rape as it plays out in conjunction with Islamic restrictions on the validity of a woman’s testimony. In court, a woman’s testimony is worth half as much as that of a man. (Quran 2:282)

Islamic legal theorists have restricted the validity of a woman’s testimony even further by limiting it to, in the words of one Muslim legal manual, “cases involving property, or transactions dealing with property, such as sales.”  Otherwise only men can testify. And in cases of sexual misbehavior, four male witnesses are required…

Consequently, it is almost impossible to prove rape in lands that follow the dictates of the Sharia.  Men can commit rape with impunity: As long as they deny the charge and there are no witnesses, they will get off scot-free, because the victim’s testimony is inadmissible.  Even worse, if a woman accuses a man of rape, she may end up incriminating herself.  If the required male witnesses can’t be found, the victim’s charge of rape becomes an admission of adultery. [1]

Spencer also says the exact same thing on his website:

Consequently, it is even today virtually impossible to prove rape in lands that follow the dictates of the Sharia. Even worse, if a woman accuses a man of rape, she may end up incriminating herself. If the required male witnesses can’t be found, the victim’s charge of rape becomes an admission of adultery.

Let us analyze Spencer’s claims one point at a time:

Women as Witnesses under Sharia

Robert Spencer writes:

In court, a woman’s testimony is worth half as much as that of a man. (Quran 2:282)

Islamic legal theorists have restricted the validity of a woman’s testimony even further by limiting it to, in the words of one Muslim legal manual, “cases involving property, or transactions dealing with property, such as sales.”  Otherwise only men can testify.

There are two claims made here: (1) a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s;  (2) a woman’s testimony is accepted only in financial transactions (even then only by half), and rejected altogether in other cases, including rape.

Of course the reality is that Spencer has spoken a half-truth, which is what he normally does.  Spencer’s modus operandi is simple: he presents the absolutely most conservative view as if it is not only the most authoritative one but also the only one.  He then compares this ultraconservative Islamic opinion with the most liberal Judeo-Christian view, and then says aha!

The issue revolves around the following Quranic verse:

O you who believe! When you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness…and call from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other. (Quran, 2:282)

Some Islamic jurists opined that the Quranic verse only permitted a woman’s testimony in cases related to financial transactions.  Therefore, they reasoned, it ought to be excluded in all other cases.  This opinion was prominent in the writings of medieval jurists, and is clung onto by some ultraconservative Muslims.

However, Spencer neglected to inform his readers of less stringent views that abound today.  Contemporary Muslims argue that the Quranic verse 2:282 has nothing to do with the courts or legal system in general:

…There is no verse anywhere in the Qur’an, which directs a court of law to consider a woman’s witness to be half reliable as that of a man. As for the verse 282 of Al-Baqarah, which is presented to substantiate the viewpoint in question, it has quite a different meaning and implication than what is construed from it…

Actually this verse addresses the common man. It does not relate to the law and thus gives no directive regarding judicial matters. In other words, it does not call upon the state, the legislative council or the legal authorities. This verse just invokes the common man’s attention for taking precautionary measures in case of a particular situation of conflict…

The verse states that when two or more individuals enter into an agreement for a loan for a fixed period of time, they should write it down thereby avoiding any misunderstanding or dispute. As a further safeguard to avoid such misunderstanding, they should make two men witnesses to the agreement. In case they are not able to find two men, then they may take two women instead of a man…Obviously, if this were a directive pertaining to judicial matters, it would have addressed the state or legal authorities. [2]

In other words, these Muslims argue that the Quranic verse cannot be generalized to all court cases; instead, it simply pertains to financial matters, and contracts of debt in specific.  It is argued that the women of pre-Islamic Arabia were generally unaware of the intricacies of the business world.  Tahir Haddad, an Islamic thinker of the early twentieth century, writes:

The fact that woman lagged behind man in all aspects of life [in the pre-Islamic times] made her less proficient in intellectual and mathematical tasks, especially since at that time she did not get her share of education and culture to prepare her for that…[which was taken into] account when it was decided that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man…[in] issue[s]…such as debts. [3]

The lack of business acumen that women of that particular time generally possessed was the reason that a woman’s singular testimony about a contract of debt might be rejected by the common man, resulting in conflicts.  The intent of the Quranic verse was after all to prevent infighting between Muslims, as was often the case between creditors and debtors.  Therefore, argue these contemporary Muslims, witnesses had to be produced who would be accepted by the common man as being authoritative.

Some contemporary Muslims even argue that such a restriction (i.e. the requirement of two women as witnesses instead of one) would not be applicable if the cause for the restriction (i.e. the lack of business acumen on the part of the woman) was not present.  The Islamic cleric Muzammil Siddiqi[4] issued the following fatwa (religious edict):

Question:

Does Islam regard the testimony of women as half of a man’s just in cases of transactions or in every case? Who are the scholars that maintain the first view? What is the evidence of those scholars saying that her testimony is not accepted in cases of murder and adultery?

Answer:

The word shahadah [testimony] in its various forms has occurred in the Qur’an about 156 times. There is only one case (Al-Baqarah 2:282) where there is a reference to gender. Apart from this one reference, there is no other place where the issue of gender is brought in the context of testimony. According to the Qur’an, it does not make any difference whether the person testifying is a male or female; the only objective is to ascertain accuracy and to establish justice and fairness. In one place in the Qur’an, there is an explicit reference that equates the testimonies of the male and female (See Surat An-Nur 24:6-9).

Only in the context of business transactions and loan contracts, it is mentioned that if two men are not available for testimony, then one man and two women are to be provided for that particular purpose (See Surat Al-Baqarah 2:282). The reason is not because of gender; it is given in the Qur’anic verse: If one errs, the other may remind her. Some scholars have suggested that this was due to the fact that most women in the past and even now were not involved in the intricate business dealings. So the Qur’an accepted their testimony, but to insure justice indicated that there should be two.

It is also important to note that the Shari`ah emphasizes that we follow the law exactly in the matters of worship; in economic dealings, however, the issue of justice is the main factor. If a judge sees that there is a woman who is very qualified and has good understanding of business transactions, the judge may consider her testimony equal to the testimony of a man. This will not be against the teachings of the Qur’an. [5]

Jamal Badawi, [6] another Islamic cleric (who Spencer himself quotes as an authority from time to time), comments:

The context of this passage (verse, or ayah) [verse 2:282] relates to testimony on financial transactions, which are often complex and laden with business jargon. The passage does not make blanket generalization [against the testimony of women]…In numerous societies, past and present, women generally may not be heavily involved with and experienced in business transactions. As such, they may not be completely cognizant of what is involved…

It must be added that unlike pure acts of worship, which must be observed exactly as taught by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, testimony is a means to an end, ascertaining justice as a major objective of Islamic law. Therefore, it is the duty of a fair judge to be guided by this objective when assessing the worth and credibility of a given testimony, regardless of the gender of the witness. A witness of a female graduate of a business school is certainly far more worthy than the witness of an illiterate person with no business education or experience. [7]

Robert Spencer claims that the Sharia itself excludes a woman’s testimony in cases of rape; yet, this is not the interpretation of Sharia that many Muslims follow:

The simple point is that this verse peculiarly relates to bearing witness on documentary evidence i.e. sale deeds, leasing agreements, loan agreements, guarantee cards and trust deeds etc. In the above related cases, one is free to choose the witnesses. But, in cases of accidents, theft, murder, robbery, rape, and hijacking etc the witnesses are not a matter of choice. Whosoever is present at the scene should and can be taken as a witness. Thus we cannot say that the witness of a woman in cases other than documentary evidence, as explained above, will be affected by this verse. [8]

Jalal Abualrub [9], a “Wahhabi” [10] cleric, writes:

The Quran states that we need two women [as] witnesses in cases of financial transactions in place of one man.  There is no proof whatsoever that this is also the case in any other dispute, including criminal cases such as rape.  In fact, a woman’s testimony is accepted in the most important aspect of Islam: the religion itself.  Did anyone ask Aishah to bring another witness or a man to support her narrations of the Prophet’s practices and sayings? [11]

What Spencer will do is simple: he will cite various Islamic clerics, mostly classical medieval ones, as a proof that the Sharia itself says such-and-such.  Yet, the reality is that even though most Muslims believe that the Sharia is divinely one, they also acknowledge that there are multipleinterpretations of it.  If some Islamic scholars argued that a woman’s testimony ought to be excluded, others argued that it should be considered equal to that of a man’s.  Spencer attempts to portray the ultraconservative interpretation of the Sharia as the only one–and to him it is the only authoritative one, with all other understandings deemed as either “taqiyya based” or simply unorthodox and therefore unrepresentative (as if Spencer is the pope of Islam!).

Yet, contemporary Muslims point out that the opinions of Islamic jurists (including the classical ones) are just that: opinions.  Unlike papal decrees in Catholicism, the rulings of Islamic clerics are neither infallible or binding. Imam Abu Hanifa, the eminent jurist who founded the Hanafi school of thought, decreed:

What comes from the Messenger of God, we accept with our mind and heart, by my father and mother, we cannot oppose it. What comes from the Companions, we choose from. As for what comes from other sources, well, they are human beings as we are. [12]

So while the Muslims find the Quran and authentic hadiths/sunna to be infallible and binding, they do not view the interpretations of them to be such.  Along this line, Jalal Abualrub wrote:

We should avoid thinking of the opinions of the scholars as infallible.  What is infallible is the Quran and Sunnah alone.  Scholars of all schools have their own opinions and fatawa that may either be correct or wrong.  For instance, a Maliki scholar can claim whatever opinion his madhhab says, but we are not bound by and certainly the religion is not bound by it.

So when Allah states in Surat al-Baqarah that in regards to financial transactions the testimony of two women can be used with the testimony of one man, no one has the right to make this specific ruling apply in other cases.  Let me remind you again: the female Companions [of the Prophet] have narrated and testified on countless occasions about aspects of creed, fiqh and other Islamic topics.  Have you heard any of the [male] Companions ever say that their testimony cannot be accepted unless they bring another woman and man to agree?  I mentioned this because money issues and criminal issues are certainly far less important than religious issues that establish a ruling for all times.

It must be remembered that the scholars  are not infallible, and their efforts are only explanatory–they are not the final authority.  We respect the scholars, but we agree that they are human and make mistakes. [13]

Abualrub brings up the point that the testimony of women was accepted on aspects of religion and creed, which are more important than crime and punishment.  This is one proof that contemporary Muslims use, namely that the female Companions bore witness to the actions of the Prophet Muhammad; there is no rule in Islam that the testimony of a woman in this regard be considered half of a man’s.

Another proof that contemporary Muslims use–to prove that a woman’s testimony is equal to that of a man’s–is the Quranic passage 24:6-9 (just two verses down from the verses that Spencer has quoted).  In these verses, the husband may testify against the wife that she has committed adultery, but if the wife gives her own testimony declaring this to be a lie, then the wife’s testimony trumps that of her husband’s.  Muzammil Siddiqi writes:

In one place in the Qur’an, there is an explicit reference that equates the testimonies of the male and female (See Surat An-Nur 24:6-9). [14]

Jamal Badawi comments:

Most Qur’anic references to testimony (witness) do not make any reference to gender. Some references fully equate the testimony of males and females…

[Verse 2:282] cannot be used as an argument that there is a general rule in the Qur’an that the worth of a female’s witness is only half the male’s. This presumed “rule” is voided by the above reference (24:6-9), which explicitly equates the testimony of both genders on the issue at hand. [15]

Contemporary Muslims point out that many classical scholars permitted female judges; how could it be then that a woman would be permitted to serve as a judge but not as a witness, the former of which is in charge of the latter?  The judge uses his wisdom to give judgment, whereas a witness simply retells what he/she witnessed.  Therefore, if a woman is allowed to be a judge, she ought to be permitted to be a witness as well.  Tahir Haddad wryly comments:

The assertion [that women ought to be barred from serving as witnesses]…is even stranger in view of the fact that according to the jurisprudence of the four orthodox Islamic law schools a woman is allowed to act as a judge to rule on differences between people in a role similar to that of a man.  Abu-Hanifa al-Nu’man [Imam Abu Hanifa] who was a contemporary of some of the Prophet’s Companions, confirmed that it is acceptable in Islam [for her to be a judge]…So, do we deduce from this that Islam…[bars her as] a witness…and at the same time elevates her by conferring her the responsibilities of a judge? [16]

Jalal Abualrub notes that the words of some of the fallible scholars contradicts the infallible authentic hadiths; Abualrub quotes the following narration in the Islamic texts:

When a woman went out in the time of the Prophet for prayer, a man attacked her and raped her. She shouted and he went off, and when a man came by, she said: “That man did such and such to me.” And when a company of the emigrants came by, she said: “That man did such and such to me.” They went and seized the man whom they thought had had intercourse with her and brought him to her.

She said: “Yes, this is he.” Then they brought him to the Apostle of God.  When [the Prophet] was about to pass sentence, the man who had [actually] assaulted her stood up and said: “Apostle of God, I am the man who did it to her.”

[The Prophet] said to her: “Go away, for God has forgiven you.” But he told the [innocent] man some good words, and to the [guilty] man who had had raped her, he said: “Stone him to death.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, #4366)

Abualrub points out that contrary to Robert Spencer’s claim that a woman’s testimony is not accepted in cases of rape, the Prophet Muhammad convicted a man based solely on one woman’s testimony.  Abualrub comments:

As for the woman mentioned in the narration, it is clear that no one asked her for four witnesses nor did anyone suspect her character, and her testimony alone was used as proof, and the innocent man who was wrongly accused was set free, while she was not punished even though she identified the wrong man, so how can the critics of Islam today claim that the Shari’ah itself says a woman is to be lashed for failing to bring forth four witnesses, when this woman in the narration not only did not do that but also identified the wrong man!? [17]

Abualrub mentions a number of salient points here, which we shall discuss in greater detail in the next part of this article.  But for now, the bolded part is most relevant to our discussion, as it shows that contemporary Muslims have a very strong proof that in their religion a woman’s testimony is to be accepted in cases of rape, contrary to what Robert Spencer–the self-proclaimed pope of Islam–insists.

Women as Witnesses under the Judeo-Christian Laws

What we have thus far concluded is that yes it is true that some Muslims (such as those living in the medieval times and some ultraconservatives today) believe that a woman’s testimony is rejected in most legal proceedings.  On the other hand, many contemporary Muslims feel otherwise, a fact that Robert Spencer conveniently ignores.

But Spencer’s half-truth does not end there.  He also purposefully neglects to mention that a woman’s testimony is rejected in traditional Halakha (Jewish law) and Biblical law (of the Christians). The Jewish Virtual Library declares that there has been a longstanding “rabbinic rule that a woman is ineligible to testify as a witness.” [18] Rabbi Aaron Mackler writes:

The vast majority of Orthodox rabbis, and some Conservative rabbis, do not accept the legitimacy of women serving as witnesses. [19]

The Talmud forbade Jewish courts from accepting women as witnesses:

The Talmudic interpretation of the law held that women or slaves were not admitted as witnesses; nor could one such testify on the basis of testimony heard form an eye-witness. [20]

It is for this reason that the testimony of a woman is not accepted in the Orthodox rabbinical courts up until this day.  However, like the Muslims, there is a difference of opinion amongst Jewry; Reform Jews and some Conservative rabbis accept women as witnesses.

We see then that the situation of the Muslims and the Jews with regard to this issue is very similar if not identical; why is it then that Robert Spencer arrives at dramatically different conclusions about Islam/Muslims/Quran/Sharia than he does about Judaism/Jews/Talmud/Halakha?  Why does Spencer entitle the chapter of his book as “Islam oppresses women,” but not say “Judaism oppresses women?”  If one criticizes the Quran for one thing, should not such a person criticize the Talmud for the exact same thing?  It seems there is one standard for Islam and another for Judaism and Christianity.  This is indeed the modus operandi for the Islamophobic movement in general; I have already in a previous article detailed Daniel Pipes’ fantastic double standards towards Sharia and Halakha.

The traditional Biblical law also excluded women from serving as witnesses. The Bible says:

One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses…The two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. (Deuteronomy 19:15-17)

Notice that Robert Spencer argues that the four witnesses in the Quranic verse 24:4 ought to be males, since the word “witnesses” appears in the masculine.  Yet, this was the exact same logic that Christian scholars used: the Bible uses the word “men” when it refers to witnesses.  John Gill, a well-renowned Biblical scholar of the eighteenth century, commented on this verse that it

teaches that there is no witness by women; and so it is elsewhere said, an oath of witness is made by men, and not by women; on which it is observed that a woman is not fit to bear witness, as it is written “then both the men,” [meaning] men and not women. [21]

Medieval Islamic and Christian scholars opined that witnesses ought to be male, based on the fact that both holy books (the Quran and Bible respectively) used masculine words for “witnesses.”  Yet, for some reason Robert Spencer argues that the Quran specifically requires male witnesses, whereas the Bible does not!  Again, this exposes Spencer’s  bias.

The Testimony of Women in Cases of Adultery

Robert Spencer, likes to contrast the Quran with the Bible; his book is full of such side-by-side comparisons.  Let us play his game then.  Both the Quran and the Bible deal with the case of a husband accusing his wife of adultery.  The Quran declares that if a wife denies the charges, then she is exonerated by the law–her testimony is accepted over that of her husband’s, and any worldly punishment is waived.  The Quran declares:

As for those who accuse their wives but have no witnesses except themselves: let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies, swearing by God that he is of those who speaks the truth; And the fifth oath should be invoking the curse of God on himself if he is of those who lie. But it shall avert the punishment from her if she bears witness/testifies before God four times that the thing he says is indeed false, and if she takes an oath a fifth time that the wrath of God be upon her if he speaks the truth. (Quran, 24:6-9)

This is the Islamic law of Al-Li’an. The Bible, on the other hand, has the Law of Jealousy: if a husband suspects his wife of adultery, then he is to bring her to the priest.  The priest will then dump dust and ink into a container of water, and force her to drink the dirtied water.  If she gets sick from it (or dies), it proves the allegation that she was adulterous; if she does not fall sick, then she is exonerated.  Furthermore, the woman is to drink this water in a state of public humiliation: her head is to be uncovered (a sign of shame back then) and she is forced to stand at the east gate of the temple in sight of the people, so that she might serve as a reminder against lewdness.  (All this even before she drinks the contaminated water.)

The Bible declares:

The Test for an Unfaithful Wife

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act, and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure–then he is to take his wife to the priest…

The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water.…Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has slept with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband”–here the priest is to put the woman under this curse of the oath–”may the LORD cause your people to curse and denounce you when he causes your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells and your thigh wastes away. ” Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. He shall have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering…He is to have the woman drink the water.  If she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse, it will go into her and cause bitter suffering; her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away, and she will become accursed among her people.

If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children. This, then, is the law of jealousywhen a woman goes astray and defiles herself while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her [i.e. death by stoning]. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’” (Numbers 5:11-31)

Matthew Henry, the eminent seventeenth and eighteenth century commentator on the Bible, explained these verses:

We have here the law concerning the solemn trial of a wife whose husband was jealous of her.

I. What was the case supposed:

1. That a man had some reason to suspect his wife to have committed adultery,

2. It is supposed to be a sin which great care is taken by the sinners to conceal, which there is no witness of…

3. The spirit of jealousy is supposed to come upon the husband…then he may compel her to drink the bitter water.  But the law here does not tie him to that particular method of proving the just cause of his suspicion; it might be otherwise proved. In case it could be proved that she had committed adultery, she was to be put to death (Lev. 20:10); but, if it was uncertain, then this law took place. Hence, (1.) Let all wives be admonished not to give any the least occasion for the suspicion of their chastity; it is not enough that they abstain from the evil of uncleanness, but they must abstain from all appearance of it, from every thing that looks like it, or leads to it, or may give the least umbrage to jealousy; for how great a matter may a little fire kindle! (2.) Let all husbands be admonished not to entertain any causeless or unjust suspicions of their wives…

II. The process of the trial must be thus:

(1.) Her husband must bring her to the priest, with the witnesses that could prove the ground of his suspicion, and desire that she might be put upon her trial. The Jews say that the priest was first to endeavour to persuade her to confess the truth…If she confessed, saying, “I am defiled,” she was not put to death, but was divorced and lost her dowry; if she said, “I am pure,” then they proceeded.

(3.) The priest was to prepare the water of jealousy…it must be [in] an earthen vessel, because the coarser and plainer every thing was the more agreeable it was to the occasion. Dust must be put into the water, to signify the reproach she lay under, and the shame she ought to take to herself, putting her mouth in the dust; but dust from the floor of the tabernacle

(4.) The woman was to be set before the Lord, at the east gate of the temple-court (say the Jews), and her head was to be uncovered, in token of her sorrowful condition; and there she stood for a spectacle to the world, that other women might learn not to do after her lewdness, Eze. 23:48

(5.) The priest was to adjure her to tell the truth, and to denounce the curse of God against her if she were guilty, and to declare what would be the effect of her drinking the water of jealousy, v. 19-22. He must assure her that, if she were innocent, the water would do her no harm, v. 19. None need fear the curse of the law if they have not broken the commands of the law. But, if she were guilty, this water would be poison to her, it would make her belly to swell and her thigh to rot, and she should be a curse or abomination among her people, v. 21, 22…

(6.) The priest was to write this curse in a scrip or scroll of parchment, verbatim-word for word, as he had expressed it, and then to wipe or scrape out what he had written into the water (v. 23), to signify that it was that curse which impregnated the water, and gave it its strength to effect what was intended. It signified that, if she were innocent, the curse should be blotted out and never appear against her, as it is written, Isa. 43:25, I am he that blotteth out thy transgression, and Ps. 51:9, Blot out my iniquities; but that, if she were guilty, the curse, as it was written, being infused into the water, would enter into her bowels with the water, even like oil into her bones (Ps. 109:18)…

(7.) The woman must then drink the water (v. 24); it is called the bitter water…

(9.) …If the suspected woman was really guilty, the water she drank would be poison to her (v. 27), her belly would swell and her thigh rot by a vile disease for vile deserts, and she would mourn at the last when her flesh and body were consumed, Prov. 5:11. Bishop Patrick says, from some of the Jewish writers, that the effect of these waters appeared immediately, she grew pale, and her eyes ready to start out of her head… [22]

The husband could not only accuse the woman of adultery during the marriage, but of fornicationbefore the wedding.  His testimony was accepted without question unless her father could provide physical proof saying otherwise; the wife’s testimony on the other hand was not considered at all.  The Bible says:

If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” then the girl’s father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. The girl’s father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, and the elders shall take the man and punish him. They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.

If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

Imagine if this was in the Quran: Spencer would have a field day!  He would wax and wane about how the only way the wife in this case could avert stoning to death would be by her parents somehow producing a blood stained cloth–blood from a broken hymen…evidence which seems mighty hard to come by.  And even if she is found innocent by this physical evidence, in that case the husband pays the wife’s father, not her.  Furthermore, the wife stays married to such a husband “as long as he lives.”  But if no proof can be found, which seems the most probable outcome, then she was to be publicly stoned to death by the men of the town.  Again: imagine Spencer’s rantings and ravings if this all were in the Quran!

To be clear: I am not trying here to demonize Christianity.  Obviously the Christians of today do not enforce the Law of Jealousy or demand virgins to show proof of their virginity.  Yet, what is apparent here is the double standard with which Spencer approaches the religious texts. Many Islamophobes pride themselves as being the protectors of the Judeo-Christian tradition, yet squirm when we apply the same standards to Judaism or Christianity.

Conclusion

Robert Spencer relies on half-truths: he only mentions the most conservative opinion amongst Muslims, as if it is somehow the only one.  In reality, contemporary Muslims believe that women can testify in trials, including cases of rape.  They interpret the Quranic verse 2:282 to be limited in scope.

Furthermore, Spencer conveniently neglects to mention that Orthodox rabbinical courts to this day refuse to accept women as witnesses, based on Talmudic teachings.  (And such understandings abounded in Christianity as well.)  Spencer ought to be as critical of the Halakha as the Sharia, but his double standard in this regard is reminiscent of Daniel Pipes’ double standards, as I documented  in a previous article.  This biased methodology underlies the Islamophobic mentality in general.

In part 2 of “Robert Spencer Rapes the Truth,” we’ll discuss the rest of Spencer’s spurious claims on the same topic, focusing specifically on his allegation that a rape victim is lashed if she fails to produce four witnesses.

Footnotes

refer back to article 1. Robert Spencer, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), 74-76. ISBN 0-89526-013-1

refer back to article 2. http://www.renaissance.com.pk/Julrefl12y4.html#1.

refer back to article 3. al-Tahir al-Haddad, Muslim Women in Law and Society: Annotated Translation of al-Tahir al-Haddad, 38. ISBN 0415418879, 9780415418874

refer back to article 4. Muzammil H. Siddiqi is the President of the Fiqh Council of North America

refer back to article 5. http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1203515453417&pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar%2FFatwaE%2FFatwaEAskTheScholar

refer back to article 6. Jamal Badawi is a member of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Fiqh Council.

refer back to article 7. http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar%2FFatwaE%2FFatwaEAskTheScholar&cid=1119503544348

refer back to article 8. http://www.renaissance.com.pk/Julrefl12y4.html#1.

refer back to article 9. Jalal Abualrub is a prolific Islamic author and translator

refer back to article 10. The proper term is “Salafi”. “Wahhabi” is considered offensive; it has been used here only because readers may be unfamiliar with “Salafi”.

refer back to article 11. Jalal Abualrub, http://islamlife.com/religion2/

refer back to article 12. as quoted in Tariq Ramadan’s Radical Reform, 53.

refer back to article 13. Jalal Abualrub, http://islamlife.com/religion2/

refer back to article 14. http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1203515453417&pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar%2FFatwaE%2FFatwaEAskTheScholar

refer back to article 15. http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1119503544348&pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar%2FFatwaE%2FFatwaEAskTheScholar

refer back to article 16. al-Tahir al-Haddad, Muslim Women in Law and Society: Annotated Translation of al-Tahir al-Haddad, 38.

refer back to article 17. Jalal Abualrub, http://islamlife.com/religion2/

refer back to article 18. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/agunot1.html

refer back to article 19. http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/teshuvot/docs/20052010/mackler_women_witnesses.pdf

refer back to article 20. Jacob Nuesner, Understanding Rabbinic Judaism, 67. ISBN 0870682385, 9780870682384

refer back to article 21. John Gill’s Exposition to the Bible, Commentary on Deuteronomy 19:17, http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/deuteronomy-19-17.html

refer back to article 22. Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary, http://biblebrowser.com/numbers/5-29.htm