The bliss of harmony

The beauty and compassion of religion:

A new family law in Mali is causing a furore, partly because it no longer stipulates that wives have to obey their husbands…[Article 312] says that, once married, husbands and wives owe each other “loyalty, protection, help and assistance”. Mali’s current law specifically states that a wife must obey her husband, and that is the way things should stay says Mahmud Dicko, president of Mali’s High Islamic Council.

You bet – because that has to be a matter of national law so that if a wife is disobedient she can be arrested, charged, and imprisoned (or do they whip them?).

“We’re not trying to make women slaves. Not at all,” he says. “It’s just the way our society is organised. The head of the family is the man, and everyone in the family has to obey him. It’s like that to create harmony.”

No – it’s like that to create a situation in which everyone in a family has to obey ‘the man’ – which in other contexts is recognized as inequality and tyranny rather than harmony.

Hadja Safiatou Dembele, president of the National Union of Muslim Women’s Associations (NUMWA), says the Koran is clear that a wife has the obligation to listen to her husband. “A man must protect his wife. A wife must obey her husband,” she says. “It’s a tiny minority of woman here who want this new law; the intellectuals. The poor and illiterate women of this country, the real Muslims, are against it.”

And of course laws that illiterate people prefer are obviously much better than laws that intellectuals think are a good idea. God damn intellectuals – they should all be smothered.

But it’s no good complaining, there were giant protests and Mali’s imams made a big fuss and that’s that. No women’s rights for Mali! No pesky secular government for Mali! No sirree. That would be too modern and intellectual and unIslamic.

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