When alarm bells sounded

 

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Category: Trinidad Society 18 Nov 07
 

“IF brothers and sisters are really concerned about a situation, they would consult a scholar of the sunnah and get a fatwa and that would be it, regarding the individual.”

A post on the trinimuslims.com Web site referring to Rose Mohammed, a Trinidadian Muslim, after she protested against putting barriers between men and women at the TML mosque on Eid day.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Evelyn Beatrice Hall, writer. The former demonstrates what happens when freedoms are eroded without comment. The latter is the ultimate statement on tolerance, democracy and freedom of speech.

I was glad to see a letter from Yvonne Teelucksingh in last week’s Sunday Guardian responding to my column where I argued that if you allow the small freedoms to be eroded without a fight, you allow dangerous ideologies to flourish.

But alarm bells rang when I saw she was presenting an eyewitness account (the screeching) of an event at which she was not present.

Teelucksingh claimed that Rose Mohammed’s “screeching” protest succeeded in embarrassing Muslim women of this country who have been liberated since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Uwbp).

Firstly, I seriously doubt that there were “liberated” Muslim women living in this country since the time of the Prophet, as we were “discovered” only in 1498, after which native inhabitants were wiped out.

The Qur’an was revealed in the year 610!

Secondly, by describing Mohammed’s impassioned protest as “screeching,” there was a clear gender bias against her own sex. It was sad to see her collude with men on discrimination against women.

Thirdly, Teelucksingh’s fear of embarrassment (a fear that bullying men tend to count on) muffles not just Rose Mohammed, but the voices of tens of thousands of oppressed Muslim women worldwide.

Hundreds of posts on the Internet by liberal men and women Muslims attest to this. Consider this by a male Muslim who writes anonymously:

“Segregation of the sexes is enforced in most of the Islamic countries, legally or under the pressure of the community. They are subjected to unfair treatment in matters of marriage, divorce, inheritance, access to higher education, job opportunities, and appearing as a witness in a court of law.

“In Saudi Arabia, women are forbidden to drive. In some countries, women cannot vote, work, and leave their houses without their fathers’ or husbands’ permission. Wife-beating is common, and most men consider it their divine right.”

The anonymous writer gave horrendous examples of the inhumanity of segregation.

“A fire at a public school for girls in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, resulted in the death of 14 girls. Religious police prevented some girls from leaving the burning building because the girls were not wearing abaye, a black coat worn with a headscarf and a second scarf over the face.

“Honour killings are carried out by men against women in their family for suspected sexual transgression. Even women who have been raped are killed for defiling the family honour.”

This was just one post of thousands.

Teelucksingh gives the impression that like the man who physically tried to cover Rose Mohammed’s mouth while she was speaking in the mosque on Eid day, she, too, wants to shut people up.

Teelucksingh’s missive was peppered with inaccuracies, hearsay and the absurd, (why do we need a biography of Noble Khan? Can’t one apologise for disrupting a festive occasion while remaining firm in one’s beliefs?

Why is my familial relationship important in a public debate? My response, in the words of Evelyn Hall: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur