Monday, September 27, 2004

how to conduct a war of the mind

Maybe my pacifist readership will shrink at my use of the word "war," but I think it's appropriate because it signals something very real, very pragmatic.

In my previous post on Islam, I made reference to the need for a larger feminist voice within the religion.

Today I happened upon this article (link via Drudge):

I won't be intimidated for expressing my views.

The woman in question, Hirsi Ali, has made a movie titled "Submission" that is provoking outrage among Muslims. A snippet of the article:

Somali-born Hirsi Ali, 34, is herself a former Muslim and an outspoken critic of Islam's treatment of women. Her film 'Submission' which depicts the text of the Koran on the naked flesh of Muslim women, is provoking a furore in the Netherlands.


But Hirsi Ali is undaunted: "Reactions to my film have been varied and I accept some people are offended, that's legitimate, but in a democracy it is not legitimate to intimidate and threaten someone for expressing her views. I made the film to publicise an injustice that is being ignored not only in Holland but throughout the world."

Hirsi Ali reflects the spirit of today's Dutch society with her conviction that 'tolerance' means Muslims in the Netherlands – almost one million in a total population of 16 million – must accept Western values.

"That means people from non-Western countries need to be educated about democratic values which include the freedom of expression," said Hirsi Ali. If people feel she has gone too far with her film they must take her to court and not take the law into their own hands, she said defiantly. "Otherwise the rule of the jungle will prevail," she added.

If you're a non-American still laboring under the delusion that only Americans feel this way about the necessary role of secularism, I hope Ali serves to remind you that others outside America feel this way, too.

The article goes on to talk about the scandalous sensuality of Ali's film, which portrays Muslim women naked-- and abused. Feminism at its best is body-centered, however, and this might be just what the Muslim world needs to see.


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