No Thank You

I read something interesting and even (very slightly) encouraging in a month-old New York Times magazine article on Pakistan by Barry Bearak.

Government by ”the mullahs” has long been a dreaded prospect by the vast majority of Pakistanis with less doctrinaire views, and the M.M.A.’s unexpected victories intensified fears that ”Talibanization” was creeping its way across the land.

It is good to know that the vast majority of Pakistanis (which I think is what that not very clear clause means: the vast majority of Pakistanis, who have less doctrinaire views, as opposed to the vast majority of Pakistanis-with-less-doctrinaire-views, which of course could be a much smaller number) dread the prospect of government by the mullahs. But it’s only a little good to know, only slightly encouraging, because superior numbers do not always prevent coups by people like mullahs or generals.

Seven months later, extremists — shouting the all-purpose invocation ”God is great!” — inflamed those anxieties by marauding through the city of Peshawar. As police placidly looked on, the crowd confiscated CD’s and tapes from stores and burned music and movies in a bonfire. They blackened the faces of women on billboards. In the meantime, politicians in the new government spoke of plans to not only enforce their version of Shariah law but also compel its obedience with patrols of religious constables.

Blackened the faces of women on billboards did they – yes I just bet they did. Imagining themselves doing the same thing to real live three-dimensional women, no doubt. The maniacal hatred of women among ‘Talibanizers’ is…well, interesting.

I read a novel by Nahid Rachlin the other day, Married to a Stranger. It was published in 1983 but takes place in Iran in 1975, and refers often to a fanatical religious group called Bandeh Khoda. The group wants women to put the chador back on, and all the rest of the program. The protagonists of the novel dislike and fear them just as much as I would if I were there. Nahid Rachlin no longer lives in Iran.

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