Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2007
By Julie Bushey Trevor
In my lifetime I have witnessed the bravery of countless women who have risen to the challenge of ending the oppression of women worldwide. It is puzzling to me why at this time in our history, when women in this country in particular have made tremendous gains in their own status, they have willingly stalled their work toward freedom for certain women; especially the violent oppression of the Women in Islam.
To be sure, the overwhelming majority of Muslims practice their faith while living in democracies, following man-made laws and treating everyone with the dignity and respect due any human being. There are however, those that do not.
Islamo-facism is a term originally used by moderate Muslims both in Iran and Algeria in the 1970s (and still used today) to describe the efforts by radical Muslim (clerics) to thwart efforts toward equality, moderation, democracy and freedom of religion.
Islamo-facists insist in a fundamental Islamic ideology where men and women are not equal; women are considered physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and morally inferior to men. Public facilities therefore are separate (and often inferior) for women; a "gender apartheid" as many call it.
All democracies and laws of the land governing people are opposed by Islamo-facists because they are laws of man, not God. Islamo-facists believe only God's law (Sharia) is to be obeyed. They believe they are advancing women's rights by "protecting" them from the kind of harassment and violence imposed by Americans and other western cultures.
Some Hollywood types have compared Islamo-facists with the Christian Right. Such a comparison is dreadfully uninformed. Nowhere does Christ call us to beat, rape, mutilate the genitals, honor-kill and especially remove the free will of women, homosexuals, Jews or any non-Christian. Christ called his disciples to do his work through prayer, alms-giving, good works and teaching (peaceful proselytizing).
To be sure, there are people in our history and today who use the good name of Christ to advance a violent cause or to insist on adherence to a biblical teaching. We prosecute those people and fortunately they are rare. Islamo-facists ideology and their terror methods are not rare and they are pervasive.
It is very easy to look at the plight of Muslim women worldwide through our privileged eyes and not respond out of "sensitivity" to the Muslim culture. If we do not work to ensure the universal application of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, we become trapped by the concept that all cultures are equal and cannot be criticized. Who loses? Women first, then the rest of the civilized world.
It is not imperialistic or disrespectful to condemn the violent oppression of the women of Islam. It is a moral imperativeespecially for anyone, feminists in particular who say they care about women. I believe that if we work together, the words of Maryam Rajavi, an Iranian "freedom fighter" will come true:
"I do believe that a woman's emancipation begins the moment she breaks this spell and believes that rebellion and resistance against tyranny are her inalienable rights. It is from this moment that no power in the world can prevent the liberation of a woman who has decided to be free."
In America, we know this liberation; let's not withhold it from our Muslim sisters.
Julie Bushey Trevor lives in Stowe.