The law of the Brothers

Hitchens too sees flaws in Obama’s Cairo speech.

Take the single case in which our president touched upon the best-known fact about the Islamic “world”: its tendency to make women second-class citizens. He mentioned this only to say that “Western countries” were discriminating against Muslim women! And how is this discrimination imposed? By limiting the wearing of the head scarf or hijab…The clear implication was an attack on the French law that prohibits the display of religious garb or symbols in state schools.

He then quotes ‘from an excellent commentary by an Algerian-American visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School, Karima Bennoune, who says’

I have just published research conducted among the many people of Muslim, Arab and North African descent in France who support that country’s 2004 law banning religious symbols in public schools which they see as a necessary deployment of the “law of the republic” to counter the “law of the Brothers,” an informal rule imposed undemocratically on many women and girls in neighborhoods and at home and by fundamentalists.

This is what people who are horrified by bans on wearing the hijab so often neglect to mention, what they so often in fact obscure by calling the hijab a free choice which simply ignores the fact that in some places women are beaten or murdered for not wearing it. That’s an important fact and it shouldn’t be ignored.

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