Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Meanwhile, in Ghaza

A radical Islamic group is threatening women who work for the official Palestine television station:

All 15 women presenters reported for work at the official Palestine Television station in Gaza yesterday, in defiance of death threats by a radical Islamic group that is believed to have links with al-Qa'ida. The Righteous Swords of Islam warned that it would strike the women with "an iron fist and swords" for refusing to wear a veil on camera.

"It is disgraceful that the women working for the official Palestinian media are competing with each other to display their charms," it said in a leaflet distributed in Gaza at the weekend. "We will destroy their homes. We will blow up their work places. We have a lot of information about their addresses and we are following their movements."

The fringe group threatened to "slaughter" the women for corrupting Palestinian morals. "The management and workers at Palestine TV should know," it warned, "that we are much closer to them than they think. If necessary, we will behead and slaughter to preserve the spirit and morals of our people."

About half the women TV journalists wear the traditional hijab head covering, but all show their faces and wear makeup. They mounted a vigil yesterday outside the Gaza City office of the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, demanding protection and respect.

It is not quite clear from the story whether the radicals want the women to wear a niqab, a covering of the whole face except for the eyes. "If necessary, we will behead and slaughter to preserve the spirit and morals of our people." Just imagine.

How odd that it is the women who are responsible for spirit and morals. How odd that any amount of a woman visible is seen as displaying her "charms". She is an object on which meanings are placed, not a subject.

Although radical Islam is by far the worst in the attempts to make women "behave", all fundamentalist religions do the same to some degree. It's pretty much the first thing on their agenda: to subjugate women properly. I've sometimes wondered if it is really the desire to subjugate women that drives some men to those types of religions rather than the religions themselves causing the subjugation.