A sideways look at Infidel

I’ve been having a hard time wrapping my mind around Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which is why I’ve been writing about it sideways, by posting links to other articles about how poorly women are treated in Islamic nations. I read the book in one sitting, on a day that I’d been planning to work. I thought, “I’ll just read the first chpater so I get an idea how how this book is written,” but I was unable to stop reading until I’d turned the last page.

I know a lot of you have been wanting to discuss this book, and I hope to write a formal review by the end of the month, but in the meantime, I do have a few more sideways looks to take….

One Step Foward
Saudi women can drive (from the Telegraph)
Strike one up for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Women will soon(er or later) be allowed to drive.

The royal family has previously balked at granting women driving permits, claiming the step did not have full public support. The driving ban dates back to the establishment of the state in 1932, although recently the government line has weakened.

“There has been a decision to move on this by the Royal Court because it is recognised that if girls have been in schools since the 1960s, they have a capability to function behind the wheel when they grow up,” a government official told The Daily Telegraph. “We will make an announcement soon.”

Sounds great, right? But even here there’s a glitch:

The move is designed to forestall campaigns for greater freedom by women, which have recently included protesters driving cars through the Islamic state in defiance of a threat of detention and loss of livelihoods.

And Two Steps Back
Institutionalized Misogyny (from PZ)
An American woman was arrested and strip-searched by Saudi police because she visited a Starbucks with a male colleague. (Um, wouldn’t the strip-search violate their modesty laws?)

“Some men came up to us with very long beards and white dresses. They asked ‘Why are you here together?’ I explained about the power being out in our office. They got very angry and told me what I was doing was a great sin,” she told the Times.

It could be worse. In Iraq, women who violate “Islamic teachings” are tortured and murdered. The “Islamic teachings” that are so important that violators must be tortured and beheaded involve wearing a headscarf.

Somehow I don’t recall Iraq being like this, um, before the US attacked. Two of my girlfriends from high school were Iraqi and they moved to Baghdad in the 1990s. I haven’t heard from them in a very long time. I often wonder if they are still alive. I have no idea how two young women who were raised to be strong and independent in the United States can survive in such a suffocating atmostphere.

I know someone will comment about how not all Muslims are extremists and so forth, but the truth is, that when religion gets political power, this kind of shit is inevitable.


Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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  1. So–This American woman… Erm. Did the United States do ANYTHING on her behalf? Or is this being treated like the Blackwater incidents?

  2. Caving in to evil once again? Well, I suppose we simply MUST respect their "Traditions of Faith.":

    I know I said it in reference to genital mutilation, but I just have to say it again here for this violation–

    Fucking Savages.

  3. “I know someone will comment about how not all Muslims are extremists and so forth….”

    Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    The way that you know that you are dealing with a minority extremist sect of a larger movement is that the larger movement works to morally condemn and limit the influence of the minority sect.

    So, for example, if you had most Muslim religious leaders condemning genital mutilation, condemning killing people for not wearing scarves, excommunicating the people who committed those atrocities, and so forth, then you would know that the people who do those things are in a minority and represent extremists.

    But if you don’t have that happening, then you can rightly conclude that the supposed extremists enjoy the approval and support of the majority, and are not extremists at all, but are in the mainstream of their religion.

    I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which situation prevails in Islam.

  4. It’s times like these I’m ashamed tocall myself a member of the human race. Having to live a nation that refuses to stand up and defend its own people only makes it that much worse.

  5. So, like, she's sitting in the family area of the place, because, you know, the rules are already crazy enough to state that this was the ONLY place women could sit with men. But apparently, that's not really true either, because she was arrested and forced to sign a false confession.

    This story makes no sense at all …

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