Sometimes, you see things that smack you in the face so hard you can’t even say anything for a while. The recent Saudi case revolving around the gang rape of a nineteen-year-old girl, for example. The girl was sentenced to 200 lashes. (She had violated Saudi gender-segregation laws.) Yeah. Saudi women are protesting, but the ruling has to be overturned.
One thing that caught my attention about the reportage of the protests was the emphasis Saudi activists (and normal people everywhere) placed on the real distance that this insanity is from the Islam they know and embrace. I’m a huge fan of the religious-minded and center-to-left-leaning combination. (Of course, this can easily slide into the insincere and creepy, but that’s politics.) And center-to-left practicing Muslims don’t have the political muscle they need, yet, which makes it feel even more important to notice, encourage and really appreciate public protests like these.
So when I read Katha Pollitt’s amazing column in a recent issue of The Nation, I was a little disappointed that she didn’t mention Irshad Manji. (Read the column, though! It’s a rare columnist who can really reassess a very critical and deeply-entrenched part of her M.O.—in Katha’s case, her adamant secularism—and admit that it’s not always the best way to get things done. She’s awesome.) In the interest of full disclose, I first heard about Irshad Manji reading Lilith. But then Jewish feminism has one hundred percent been my door into both the theories of religious lefty-ism and the middle of people who continue to create it. And although I know I can (and often do) ramble on endlessly about the separation of church/synagogue/mosque/etc and state, at this moment, I think there’s nothing more powerful than religious women of all affiliations standing together to say, “We love and respect religiousness. But this is bullshit.”
Oh, and a quick request: I have been sourcing the internet for local protests to go to, even online petitions to sign. I’ve got nothing, which is kind of terrifying. Where is everyone on this? Have we all–feminist organizations included–so thoroughly given up on Muslim-extremist governments? If anyone knows of protests or petitions, please leave the information below. I’ll be updating as I find things, or get fed up and create one.