This is in response to some of the comments on my previous post. I do not think it matters where a barbaric practice originated. What matters is that it is being used today. If you still do not believe that Islam is a violent, hateful religion, I urge you to read the following.
If you are doing a study of contemporary women in Muslim countries you could bookend it with Reading Lolita In Teheran and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel. I spent the last two days immersed in Infidel. It is engrossing, enlightening and edifying. Ms. Ali's story traces her life from Somalia through Saudia Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya to The Netherlands and ultimately to the United States. She grew up in Muslim society where girls are routinely genitally mutilated and married off by their fathers to men they have never met. Women can be beaten with impunity and the countries themselves are mired in the Seventh Century.
Ali made her escape from a forced marriage to Holland where she gained a degree in Political Science and, finally, became a Member of Parliament. She worked with Theo Van Gogh on the film Submission, for which Theo was murdered and her own life threatened so she now must be guarded at all times.
For those who still try to delude themselves that Islam is peace, take a look at the real thing. In Ms. Ali's own words: "The kind of thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia, and among the Muslim Brotherhood in Kenya and Somalia, is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves a feudal mind-set based on tribal concepts of honor and shame. It rests on self-deception, hypocrisy, and double standards. It relies on the technological advances of the West while pretending to ignore their origin in Western thinking. This mind-set makes the transition to modernity very painful for all who practice Islam.
'It is always difficult to make the transition to a modern world. . . . . . . I moved from the world of faith to the world of reason - from the world of excision and forced marriage to the world of sexual emancipation. Having made that journey, I know that one of those worlds is simply better than the other. Not because of its flashy gadgets, but fundamentally, because of its values.
'The message of this book, if it must have a message, is that we in the West would be wrong to prolong the pain of that transition unnecessarily, by elevating cultures full of bigotry and hatred toward women to the stature of respectable alternative ways of life."
And we in America would be very wrong not to recognize the rise of Christian fundamentalism in this country as an attempt to return to the same type of misogynist reality as that of Islam. The book is a warning in many ways. If you doubt that last warning, please read Kingdom Coming by Michelle Goldberg. But most of all, read Ali's story - a brilliant, caring woman's journey to enlightenment and an attempt to help all Muslim women living under the yoke of Allah's will.
This was originally posted on my blog several months ago.