Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Does anyone have any doubts as to the extremist nature of Islam when the senior Muslim cleric in Australia and New Zealand blamed women for their own rapes?

A senior Muslim cleric compared women who go without a head scarf to “uncovered meat” left out for scavengers, drawing widespread condemnation and calls Thursday for his resignation.

First of all, as a woman, I deeply resent being compared to a piece of meat, as if women’s only purpose in life is to be consumed by men.

Second, I am appalled and outraged that any rational human being would ever say that women are responsible for a violent sexual crime that was perpetrated against them by anyone, regardless of what they were wearing or where they were located or what they were doing when the crime was committed.

Third, are Muslim men comfortable being portrayed by their religious leader as animals who are incapable of controlling their sexual urges? Are muslim men really trapped in the stone age, lacking any capacity to behave in a civilized manner? I’d like to believe that the average muslim man is more mature than that, but according to the most senior cleric in Australia, this is not the case. Certainly, if I was a Muslim man in Australia or New Zealand, I’d be outraged at this characterization.

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Comments

  1. #1 Corkscrew
    October 26, 2006

    Second, I am appalled that any rational human being would ever say that women are responsible for a violent crime that was perpetrated against them by anyone, regardless of what they were wearing or where they were located or what they were doing when the crime was committed.

    Fortunate that no rational human being said that, then…

  2. #2 MarkP
    October 26, 2006

    With regard to your first point, good for you. With regard to your third point, yes they seem to be, but there is always hope. But as to your second point, come on now.

    Have most of us not been arguing that the US government is in large part responsible for the sectarian violence that has erupted in Iraq as a result of the toppling of Saddam’s regime? That doesn’t excuse those who chose to commit that violence. They too are to blame, and I’d argue far more so. But so is the US. Responsibility is not a zero sum game.

    More pertinently, if a white guy goes walking in a black neighborhood wearing a shirt that says “I hate niggers”, he might be within his rights of free speech, and those that beat the shit out of him are certainly to blame for their actions. But frankly I don’t see how any rational person could say that he is not at least somewhat responsible for what happened to him. He showed remarkably poor judgement and taste.

    Likewise, those who rape women are the lowest form of scum on the earth, deserving of whatever punishment the legal system chooses to hand out. However, one does not need excessive intelligence and experience to know that drunk, overly-testosteroned, ignorant, horny men are not the most rational creatures in the world, and that certain manners of dress, behavior, and speech by women in their company can provoke very unpleasant behavior in those men. Context and details are everything.

    Again, blame is not a zero sum game. I think most of the resistence to assigning some blame to some women in some rape situations is the presuposition that this relieves the rapist of responsibility. Nonsense. He’s scum, regardless of what she did.

    The real issue with what this Muslim cleric said goes to your other points, that having one’s head uncovered somehow provokes rape, as if all you were was a walking life support system for a vagina. Sadly, this is consistent with many religious writings. And we all know how big a friend religion has historically been to woman…

  3. #3 jason
    October 26, 2006

    Using the same broad-brush approach, Bush can be used to make the claim that all Americans are brutish, ignorant, hateful, imperialistic, war-mongering, hypocritical bigots. Then again, John Tunis was right when he said, “He who witnesses a crime and does not protest, commits it himself.” If Muslims aren’t going to take a stand against their radical elements (or Americans against theirs), it’s hard to argue with your description of their faith (or the world’s description of America).

    That said, the cleric is definitely worth bashing in the worst ways possible. His statements are horrifically sexist and ignorantly barbaric. Can anyone say troglodyte? Religions preach love and peace while allowing their most radical members to define their faiths with violence and abhorrent behavior (just like America’s Christian fundamentalists . . .).

    I’m glad I’m an atheist.

  4. #4 Elf Eye
    October 26, 2006

    I’m glad I’m an atheist, too, but, hey, when Rev. Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church says, “God hates fags,” do we conclude that his views are representative of those of all Christians. No? OK, then maybe we shouldn’t conclude that Islam is a religion of extremists on the basis of what this Australian cleric says.

  5. #5 Morris Berg
    October 26, 2006

    Two points:

    1) Unjustifiable Overgeneralization: Jason summed it up well. Also: “. . . drawing widespread condemnation and calls Thursday for his resignation,” (assuming this group includes Muslims), would – on its face – lead me to think that you should narrow your indictment.

    The underlying problems with Islam are also present in Christianity. And though I have many many other reasons to abhor Christianity and Christianists, the pernicious idiocy espoused by Pat Roberts, Jerry Falwell, and other “leaders” does no more than give me another reason to hate Pat Roberts, Jerry Falwell, and other “leaders.”

    2) Does misogyny equal bellicosity?

  6. #6 Bruce
    October 26, 2006

    Religions preach love and peace

    I would change that to say “Religions preach their version of love and peace”.

    when Rev. Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church says, “God hates fags,” do we conclude that his views are representative of those of all Christians.

    Except it’s not just Rev. Phelps, it’s a lot of other Reverends too. They may not like to refer to it as “hate”, they may consider their prejudice to be justified by God, but most discrimination is fueled by hatred whether they want to admit it or not. And when a majority of good Christians amend their state’s constitution to make sure that marriage will only be between a man and a woman, they can claim that they don’t hate gays, but the writing is on the ballot measure.

    If this guy were the only Muslim cleric preaching such misogyny, then you have a point. But he’s not and a lot of Muslims seem to practice what he preaches.

  7. #7 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    October 26, 2006

    drawing widespread condemnation and calls Thursday for his resignation.

    This article is not clear. Is that condemnation coming from muslims or from outsiders?

    Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward said Hilali’s comment was an incitement to rape and that Australia’s Muslims should force him to resign.

    Any word from Australia’s Muslims as of yet?

  8. #8 Louise
    October 26, 2006

    We wear shorts and sundresses in Australia because it’s Spring and the weather is hot! That cleric’s sentiments are neanderthal and an enticement to violence against women. He wants peace, a piece of Australia, a piece of Europe,…at least Christianity went through a Reformation 500 years ago.

  9. #9 razib
    October 26, 2006

    many more muslims have very conservative social views than christians. a moderate muslim is equivalent to a conservative christian. that’s just the truth.

  10. #10 Miguelito
    October 26, 2006

    Islam is the religion of “peace” like Christianity is the religion of “love”. Both texts are highly inconsistent in their morality and the followers of those religions get to pick and choose which tenets to believe and which to ignore.

    Given the intolerance that much of the Koran shows towards nonbelievers, it’s no surprise that many of its adherents are bigoted thugs. The same can be said of Christianity.

    However, it would still be wrong to lay the blame at the feet of all the followers of Christianity or Islam.

  11. #11 mustafa
    October 26, 2006

    At least he was being consistent with Quranic instruction. 1 Corinthians 11:6-10 reads,

    6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7 A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

    How many Christian pastors demand that the women in their congregations cover their heads or shave their hair?

  12. #12 melior
    October 26, 2006

    OK, then maybe we shouldn’t conclude that Islam is a religion of extremists on the basis of what this Australian cleric says.

    Posted by: Elf Eye

    The insistence that irrational and immoral ideas must be given deference and respect solely because they are off limits as “part of someone’s religion” is exactly the problem. And it ain’t coming from us atheists.

    The beliefs of the group are nothing more and nothing less than the views of their members. For this reason, yes, mainstream Muslims and mainstream Christians do deserve to be forced to confront (and own) the ideas of these extreme members of their “community” and either deny them membership or accept their share of the condemnation they are due, rightly, for condoning them.

    If you subtract the evil and fakeness from organized religion, there’s really not much left but balloon juice.

  13. #13 razib
    October 26, 2006

    Given the intolerance that much of the Koran shows towards nonbelievers, it’s no surprise that many of its adherents are bigoted thugs. The same can be said of Christianity.

    less so. buddhists in sri lanka and myanmar show intolerance to religious minorities (hindus, christians and muslims), so the same can be said of buddhism, but i think one can agree that buddhism on the whole is characterized by less religious persecution today than christianity, and christianity is characterized by less religious persecution today than islam.

  14. #14 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    October 26, 2006

    This is what I want to see:
    Mufti outrages Muslims over sex comments

    Richard Kerbaj
    October 27, 2006
    AUSTRALIA’S Muslims yesterday turned on their leader, Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, amid calls for him to be sacked as the nation’s mufti for blaming women for inciting rape.
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    Sheik Hilali was universally condemned by mainstream politicians and Muslim leaders nationwide and could even face a revolt from within his tight-knit community over the Ramadan sermon in which he likened immodestly dressed women to meat and suggested rape victims were as much to blame as their attackers.
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    Muslim women were devastated by the sermon – revealed in The Australian yesterday – while John Howard described the comments as “appalling and reprehensible”.
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    The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward demanded that Sheik Hilali be charged with “incitement to rape”.
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    Members of the Lebanese Muslim Association, which owns Sheik Hilali’s home mosque in Lakemba, in Sydney’s southwest, met late last night to consider his eviction.

  15. #15 J Daley
    October 26, 2006

    I’m shocked that no one has yet replied to Mark’s incredibly stupid characterization of rape. (Nothing personal, Mark.) That kind of logic – that women should be responsible for the company they keep to the point that if some asshole rapes them, well, maybe it was because of the woman’s poor judgement and why was she dressed like that anyway if she didn’t want it – is utter bullshit. It’s no more defensible than what some clerical jerk said. For shame, Mark.

  16. #16 Lab Cat
    October 26, 2006

    J Daley: I was just about to respond to Mark’s comment, scrolling down the list and saw yours.

    Mark said: and that certain manners of dress, behavior, and speech by women in their company can provoke very unpleasant behavior in those men. Context and details are everything.

    It reminds of when judges in Britian who ruled for the rapists saying that the victim was asking for it being dressed provatively or being in a particular place at a particular time.

    Both imply that being a women provokes certain men to behave badly and it was the woman’s fault.

    It is sad and scary that people still think this way.

  17. #17 Lab Cat
    October 26, 2006

    “provocatively”

    fingers having problems hitting the right keys today

  18. #18 jason
    October 26, 2006

    Both J Daley and Lab Cat are correct. Mark’s comments are troubling. If you’re robbed, are you partially at fault for having such nice things? Were Andrea Yates’s children partially at fault for not sitting down and shutting up when they were told to do so? It’s the rapist and only the rapist who is to blame for rape. Unbelievable. How Ann Coulter of you.

    And I’m totally embarrassed I missed that when I responded originally. I blame it on too much or too little crack this morning. That’s a better excuse than admitting I did a hit-and-run response and only now came back to check what was happening . . .

  19. #19 Tyler DiPietro
    October 26, 2006

    If you’re robbed, are you partially at fault for having such nice things?

    I wouldn’t say anyone is “at fault” or “responsible” for it, a crime is a crime. But to use your analogy, if I walked through the most crime-ridden part of New York with twenty and fifty dollar bills hanging out of every pocket, people would at least call me a dumbass.

    That said, I agree with the blog owner. People stick their heads in the sand with regard to Islam and its attitudes toward women, nonbelievers, apostates, etc. It is a violent religion, just like Christianity is at base an intolerant religion.

  20. #20 jason
    October 26, 2006

    Tyler: That’s just silly. You’re not using my analogy; you’re abusing it. In the same breath, you’re now responsible if someone steals your car. You did show it to the world, right? You did flash it around like you wanted it stolen, right? Having something and that something being obvious in no way makes you responsible for crimes committed in order to take that something. The entire idea is obtuse at best.

    And we’re not talking about possessions; we’re talking about self. You show your face everywhere you go so you must be responsible if someone finds it offensive and decides to rearrange it by force, right? If you have a pet and someone sees it and finds it problematic, you must be partially responsible if they decide to hurt or kill it, right? What if they decide to burn down your house because it offends them or tempts them? Again, that must be at least partially your fault given your logic (or lack thereof, actually). Let’s not be daft.

  21. #21 sciencedave
    October 26, 2006

    Let’s not confuse ‘responsible’ with ‘predictable’.

    No defense offered for rapists, no matter the venue or the dress of the woman. It is a terrible transgression that cries out for justice. Similarly with any assault against any person.

    Crimes againsts property are of a lesser order, but are still intolerable.

    The predictability of a crime is a separate issue- flashing twenties in a “bad’ section of town is stupid precisely because the danger is obvious. We also often suggest female students seek buddies or an escort when traveling across campus at night, because we recognize the deterrent effect of the group, and are cognizant of the potential danger. We all agree that she should be able to walk alone and be unafraid. Yet we are not hesitant to suggest that she not do this. We acknowledge that doing this could lead to her coming to harm.

    This is not an endorsement of the imam’s attitude, by any means. Rape is only the rapist’s fault. Imprudence still may contribute to the outcome, in some cases, I think. But that is not to say anyone ‘had it coming’.

  22. #22 darkymac
    October 27, 2006

    Sheik Hilali has shown a few signs of decreased inhibition in recent years; the kind that’s not inconsistent with clinical disease.
    He was already considered to be a liability by those members of the Australian muslim community who I know, before this latest performance.

    This latest furore makes the mufti a godsend to the Australian muslim women’s community because it’s the first time that the mainstream Australian media has reported their firmly feminist stance.
    That stance has been largely disregarded in the all the usual pot-shot taking from the battlements of each patriarchy, the Western democratic tradition and the Muslim tradition, at each other.

    I look forward to Pru Goward, a woman from the Australian Western democratic tradition who is running for parliament, bringing the issues that surround dress, both for Western democratic tradition women and for muslim tradition women, into focus.
    There’s no doubt that the Sheikh’s sermon was incitement to rape, as she said.
    It is, unfortunately for all women here in Australia, still difficult to shout over the din produced by men’s sense of entitlement – - from both traditions.

  23. #23 Mel
    October 27, 2006

    certain manners of dress, behavior, and speech by women in their company can provoke very unpleasant behavior in those men.

    There’s a stereotype that most female rape victims are dressed “provocatively.” This isn’t the case at all (and most rapes are committed by relatives or acquaintances), and if a woman can be raped by a “friend” while wearing a ratty oversized sweatshirt and baggy jeans, just how are women supposed to dress in order to absolve ourselves of blame. A burqa? Women in burqas get raped, too.

    If it’s hot out, I’d like to be able to wear a tanktop and shorts–men can walk around shirtless, no problem–without being told it’s my fault if I am raped.

    Notice how no one ever says male rape victims are to blame because they were “dressed provocatively.”

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