Solidarity forever

Pamela Bone points out that ‘if Islam is to be reformed, and the world consequently made safer and happier for all, it is women who will do it…Western men didn’t see last century’s women’s liberation movement as in [their interest]. It had to be driven by women because the status quo advantaged men.’

The Koran seems fairly clear about women’s subordinate status, but then so is the Christian Bible. If Christian women have been able to argue, more or less successfully, that the misogynistic passages in the Bible are merely a reflection of the era in which they were written and have no relevance to today, there should be no reason Muslim women can’t do the same.

She also quotes Maryam Namazie.

“Debating the issue of women’s rights in an Islamic context is a prescription for inaction and passivity, in the face of the oppression of millions of women struggling and resisting in Britain, the Middle East and elsewhere. Anywhere they (Islamists) have power, to be a woman is a crime.” Namazie is of the Left…But in general, she notes, the Left, the traditional defender of human rights, is silent about the oppression of Muslim women. The reasons are that political Islam is seen as anti-imperialist, racism is these days much worse than sexism and minorities are automatically to be supported…Change must come from within, say the good liberals. Strangely, no one said that about South Africa’s apartheid system.

Interesting Pamela Bone should say that, because that’s exactly what Maryam said to me when she interviewed me briefly for her tv show. It was shortly after Ramin Jahanbegloo was let out of prison at the apparent price of giving a tv interview that said he’d been wrong to work for reform of Iran, and especially wrong to attend international conferences and the like. I was therefore worried at the time about the possibility that I could taint people inside places like Iran by the mere fact of my support. I blurted something angsty to that effect, and Maryam retorted, with some heat, that, indeed, ‘ no one said that about South Africa’s apartheid system.’ She said, I think (if I remember correctly), that the whole thing was a shut up device and reformers do indeed want international solidarity and support. So I resolved to cease worrying and do better next time.

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