A few days ago I forwarded to some contacts of mine Caroline Criado Perez’ Invisible Women newsletter on the current situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. It contains some horrifying examples of the terror actually imposed upon women and girls, and at the end it suggests a few ways to humbly support victims and initiatives of resistance.
A friend of mine, living in North Africa and a hajji himself, sent me a reaction. The Taliban have learnt a few things, he wrote; they will now deceive more skilfully than before. They might grant some rights to women, should they be interested in the recognition of their Islamic emirate by the US – but I think they really don’t care. And make no mistake, the Taliban’s victory is a victory for the whole Islamist Muslim world, just like when they all stood behind Saddam Hussein when he bawled against the US. Every single fact that might humiliate the US or the Western world, is perceived as a victory. That’s the game Erdogan’s playing and that the Taliban will be playing. In addition, next year it will be a hundred years since the fall of the last caliphate, the Ottoman empire. It’s hard to imagine a more symbolic restart.
And don’t delude yourself about women’s rights in the Islamist world. They send women to the frontline to catch the first bullets, but as soon as they come to power, the women are forced back into their lockbox to serve the man at his every beck and call, to deliver and raise children, to do the cooking and to thank the Lord for His favours. Western help for Muslim women? Counterproductive. Democracy for Islamic countries? Counterproductive. Their system of norms and values is fundamentally different from the Western one.
And about the sharia: I have the texts here in my library. Girls and boys have to marry as soon as they are able to conceive and deliver children, that is from puberty. A relation outside of marriage? A disgrace, for the culprits, their families, the whole of society. Do you think Islamists in Brussels think differently? Forget it. They completely agree. As soon as they get some power, they impose the sharia in the field conquered. The more power, the more sharia. And politics are asleep – or else reinforce Islamism by ignoring critical Muslims.
It will be clear: for my friend Ismail the main danger for Islam is the detrimental impact of fundamentalist Islamism. Yet, it remains to be seen if and how in Afghanistan ideological purity and backward patriarchal traditions will be reconciled with the growing needs for education and instruction required by even the most reactionary sectors of society.