Thursday, July 28, 2011

Libya's War For the Abaya


By Susan Lindauer, former U.S. Asset covering Libya and Iraq at the United Nations during the Lockerbie negotiations

For European bankers, it's a war for Libya's Gold. For oil corporations, it's a war for Cheap Crude (now threatening to destroy Libya's oil infrastructure, just like Iraq). But for Libya's women, it's a fierce, knock down battle over the Abaya— an Islamic style of dress that critics say deprives women of self-expression and identity.

Hillary Clinton and President Sarkozy might be loath to admit it, but the desire to turn back the clock on women rights in Libya constitutes one of the chief goals for NATO Rebels on the Transitional Council.

For NATO Rebels—who are overwhelmingly pro-Islamist, regardless of NATO propaganda (see www.obamaslibya.com) — it's a matter of restoring social obedience to Islamic doctrine. However the abaya is more than a symbol of virtue and womanly modesty. It would usher in a full conservative doctrine, impacting women's rights in marriage and divorce, the rights to delay childbirth to pursue education and employment—all the factors that determine a woman's status of independence.

That makes this one War Libya's women cannot afford to lose. For those of us who support Islamic modernity, there are good arguments that Gadhaffi would be grossly irresponsible to hand over power to a vacuum dominated by NATO Rebels. Given the savagery of their abuses against the Libyan people—and the Rebels’ agenda to reinstate Shariah and retract women's rights, Gadhaffi has an obligation to stand strong and block them for the protection of the people.

Indeed, it's somewhat baffling that France or Italy would want to hand power to Rebels, outside of an election scenario. Elections would be a safeguard that would empower Libyan women to launch a leadership alternative that rejects the Abaya. That's exactly what the Rebels fear, and it accounts for their deep, abiding rejection of the election process. Democracy poses a real threat to NATO's vision of the "New Libya."

The abaya carries so much weight in the battle for Islamic modernity that Gadhaffi pretty much banned Islamic dress from the first days of his government. Getting rid of the abaya was part of Gadhaffi's larger reform package supporting women's rights—one of the best and most advanced in the entire Arab world. The transformation of women's status has been so great that the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran imposed a fatwa against Gadhaffi years ago, declaring his government blasphemous to Islamic traditions.

To gain insider perspective on Gadhaffi's reforms for women, members of a fact-finding delegation in Libya spoke with Najat ElMadani, chairwoman of the Libyan Society for Culture and Sciences, an NGO started in 1994. They also interviewed Sheikh Khaled Tentoush, one the most prominent Imams in Libya. Imam Tentoush has survived two NATO assassination attempts, one that was particularly revealing.

Tentoush said that he and 12 other progressive Imams were traveling to Benghazi to discuss a peaceful end to the conflict. They stopped for tea at a guest house in Brega--- and NATO dropped a bomb right on top of them, killing 11 of the 13 Imams, who had embraced Islamic reforms that empower women's rights and modernity.

There were no military installations or Gadhaffi soldiers anywhere nearby that would have justified NATO bombing. This was a deliberate assassination of Islamic leaders who give religious legitimacy to Gadhaffi's modernist policies, and therefore pose a great threat to the conservative ambitions of Islamic Rebels. NATO killed them off.

What's got radical Islamists so upset in Libya? Here's a primer on women's rights under Gadhaffi:

No Male Chaperones in Libya

• In Libya, women are allowed to move about the city, go shopping or visit friends without a male escort. Unbelievable as it sounds, throughout most of the Arab world, such freedoms are strictly forbidden. In much of Pakistan, for example, a 5 year old male child would be considered a suitable chaperone for an adult woman in the marketplace. Otherwise she'd better stay home. In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, women are frequently locked in their apartments while their husbands, brothers or fathers go off to work. Yes, there are exceptions. Some families individually reject these practices. However, before readers protest this characterization, you must be honest and acknowledge that the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Saudis/Kuwaitis aren't the only groups that constrain women's freedoms in the Arab world. This is common social behavior throughout large swaths of Arab society.
• In Libya, women are never locked in their homes, while their husbands, fathers and brothers go to work. Gadhaffi forbids restricting women's mobility.
• In Libya, women have full legal rights to drive cars—unlike their sisters in Saudi Arabia. In a lot of Arab countries, a woman's husband holds her passport. So she cannot travel outside of the country without his approval.

Marriage Rights

• Tragically, in Kabul, Afghanistan, a young woman can be locked in Prison for rejecting her father's choice of husband. Until she changes her mind, her prospective mother in law visits the prison every day, demanding to know why her son is not "good enough" for this girl. Why does she disobey those who know what's best for her? That poor woman stays locked up in Kabul prison until she changes her mind. And it happens right under the noses of American and NATO soldiers. A NATO Occupation won't protect Libyan women, either.
• All over the Arab world—from Yemen to Jordan to Saudi Arabia to Iran— fathers and brothers decide what age a young woman will be given away in marriage, usually as soon as she hits puberty— She has no choice in the most important decision of her life. Frequently a young girl gets married off to one of her father's adult friends or a cousin. Throughout the Arab world, it's socially acceptable for a shopkeeper to ask a young Muslim girl if she has started to menstruate. A good Islamic girl is expected to answer truthfully.
• Not in Libya. To his greatest credit, bucking all Islamic traditions—from the first days of government, Gadhaffi said No Way to forced marriages. Libyan woman have the right to choose their own husbands. They are encouraged to seek love marriages. Under strict Libyan law, without exception no person can force a Libyan woman to marry any man for any reason.
• Forced marriages have been such a problem throughout the Arab world, that in Libya, an Imam always calls on the woman if there is an impending marriage. The Imam meets with her privately, and asks if any person is forcing her to marry, or if there's any reason she's marrying this person other than her desire to be with this man. Both Najat and Imam Tentoush were very adamant on these points.
• In Libya, the Imams are expected to protect the woman from abuse by relatives.

Right to End a Marriage

• Divorce is brutally difficult for a woman throughout the Arab world. A husband can beat or rape his wife, or commit adultery or lock her in a room like a prison. No matter what a woman suffers, as a wife she has no legal rights to leave that marriage, even for her own protection. When her father negotiates that marriage contract, she's stuck for life. A man can divorce a woman in front of two witnesses by repeating three times: "I divorce you. I divorce you. I divorce you." He can text that message on a cell phone, and it's over. The woman has no reciprocal freedom. She's stuck in that marriage until her husband lets her go.
• Not so in Libya. A Libyan woman can leave a marriage anytime she chooses. A woman simply files for divorce and goes on with her life. It is very similar to U.S. laws, in that a man has no power to stop her. It's completely within her control to initiate a divorce.
• In Libya, if a woman enters a marriage with her own assets and the marriage ends, her husband cannot touch her assets. The same is true of the man's assets. Joint assets usually go to the woman. These "abnormal" marriage rights stir deep anger among conservative Libyan men. Rebels particularly hate Gadhaffi's government for granting marriage rights to women. But consider how delaying marriage impacts women's opportunities in society.

Delayed marriage means delayed childbirth, which empowers young women to continue education and gain employment. Not surprisingly then, Libyan women enjoy some of the best opportunities in the Arab world. That might also cause simmering resentments among conservative Libyan men.

Education of Libyan Women

• In Libya more women take advantage of higher education than men, according to Najat. There are professional women in every walk of life. Many Libyan women are scientists, university professors, lawyers, doctors, government employees, journalists and business women. Najat attributes that freedom and the range of choices to Gadhaffi, and his government's insistence that women must be free to choose their lives and be fully supported in those choices. Najat and Tentoush said that some Imams in Libya would like it to be otherwise—especially those Imams favoring the Rebels— but Gadhaffi has always over ruled them. For example there are many women soldiers, and they are very strong and fully capable of contributing to the military defense of the country.
• Women receive education scholarships equal to the men's. All Libyans can go abroad and study if they so desire— paid for by Gadhaffi's government. Single women usually take a brother or male relative with them, and Najat said all expenses are covered for both the woman and her companion.
• In Libya, women are not required to seek a husband's permission to hold a job, and any type of job is available to her. In contrast, many employment opportunities are proscribed in many other Arab countries, because work puts women in daily proximity to men who are not their husbands. That eliminates many types of job opportunities.

Bashing Women's Rights


These are some of the reasons why Rebels consider Gadhaffi an "infidel." They frequently express a desire to reinstate the Shariah. It's an open secret in Arab circles. In ignoring this point, NATO resembles the three monkeys. See no truth. Hear no truth. Speak no truth. But the Arab community understands this dynamic. Rebels are going to pat Hillary Clinton and Sarkozy on the head right up until they capture power. Then they're going to do exactly what they started out to do. Reinstate Islamic law—under the protection of the United States and NATO governments. Conservative social codes will be enforced just like Afghanistan.

Libyans understand this point, even if Americans and Europeans are lost in denial.
It should surprise no one, therefore, that some of Gadhaffi's greatest support comes from Libyan women. Nor should it surprise Libya watchers that Gadhaffi's not exactly "clinging to power" as the corporate media likes to suggest. Quite the contrary, Gadhaffi's support has skyrocketed to 80 or 85 percent during this crisis. President Obama, Sarkozy and Bersculoni would be thrilled to enjoy such intense popular support.

NATO bombing has backfired and alienated the Libyan people from the Rebel cause, destroying community infrastructure that Libyans are truly proud of. Rebels are chasing pro-Gaddhaffi families out of Benghazi, a sort of political cleansing. But they have no street credibility that would give them power in negotiations with other Libyans, because losers don't get to dictate the terms. NATO can propagandize until Sarkozy falls over in a fit, but the people have resoundingly rejected these Rebels.

NATO is pushing a political resolution, because Europe wants off the merry-go-round. In truth, the music is getting uglier every day. NATO never should have jumped on this bandwagon in the first place. There's no sense to it. They're fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and embracing Al Qaeda and conservative Islam in Benghazi.

Those of us who support Islamic modernity should be relieved that Libya's people are smarter and savvier than NATO bureaucrats. And we should all say a prayer that Gadhaffi holds on.

(This article may be republished in full or part with attribution to the author.)

As a U.S. Asset, Susan Lindauer covered Libya and Iraq at the United Nations from 1995 to 2003, and started negotiations for the Lockerbie Trial. Lindauer is the author of “Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq.”

1 Comments:

At February 14, 2012 at 10:50 AM, Blogger BunBun4life said...

GREAT article.

AND the very first announcement pertaining to laws, governorship, and the future of Libya WAS like this ►

At the ceremony marking Libya's official liberation in October, one of the first announcements from Mustafa Abdel Jalil, leader of Libya's National Transitional Council, was that any laws that contradicted sharia would be annulled. He specifically mentioned that, going forward, polygamy would be legal.

“As an example is the law on divorce and marriage ... This law is contrary to sharia and it has been scrapped," Jalil said.

(Gaddafi had made many laws that gave women the right to retain the family home during divorce, custody, etc., which violate sharia, so they are screwed).

Obviously the women are outraged, but, also questioned how with all the shit they have going on THIS specifically apparently is his number one priority. (then again have you seen a picture of that rat faced bastard?)

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

All Time Classics

  • Our Worse Half: The 25 Most Embarrassing States.
  • The Missing Security Tapes From the World Trade Center.
  • It's a Blunderful Life.
  • The Civil War II
  • Sweet Jesus, I Hate America
  • Top Ten Conservative Books
  • I Am Mr. Ed
  • Glenn Beck: Racist, Hate Monger, Comedian
  • The Ten Worst Music Videos of all Time
  • Assclowns of the Week

  • Links to the first 33 Assclowns of the Week.
  • Links to Assclowns of the Week 38-63.
  • #99: Dr. Strangehate edition
  • #98: Get Bentghazi edition
  • #97: SNAPping Your Fingers at the Poor edition
  • #96: Treat or Treat, Kiss My Ass edition
  • #95: Monumental Stupidity double-sized edition
  • #94: House of 'Tards edition
  • #93: You Da Bomb! edition.
  • #92: Akin to a Fool edition.
  • #91: Aurora Moronealis edition.
  • #90: Keep Your Gubmint Hands Off My High Pre'mums and Deductibles! edition.
  • #89: Occupy the Catbird Seat/Thanksgiving edition.
  • #88: Heil Hitler edition.
  • #87: Let Sleeping Elephants Lie edition.
  • #86: the Maniacs edition.
  • #85: The Top 50 Assclowns of 2010 edition.
  • #(19)84: Midterm Madness edition.
  • #83: Spill, Baby, Spill! edition.
  • #82: Leave Corporations Alone, They’re People! edition.
  • #81: Hatin' on Haiti edition.
  • #80: Don't Get Your Panties in a Twist edition.
  • #79: Top 50 Assclowns of 2009 edition.
  • #78: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism edition.
  • #77: ...And Justice For Once edition.
  • #76: Reading Tea Leaves/Labor Day edition.
  • #75: Diamond Jubilee/Inaugural Edition
  • #74: Dropping the Crystal Ball Edition
  • #73: The Twelve Assclowns of Christmas Edition
  • #72: Trick or Treat Election Day Edition
  • #71: Grand Theft Autocrats Edition
  • #70: Soulless Corporations and the Politicians Who Love Them Edition
  • Top 10 LA Radio Shows That Are Rated Higher Than Rush Limbaugh's
  • Top 10 Reasons Operation American Spring Went Flat
  • Top Ten Facts of the MH370 Air Disaster
  • Top 10 Tips for GOP Congressmen Running Against Women
  • Top 10 Signs Walmart's Mistreating its Workers
  • Top 10 Diversions John McCain Found During Syria Hearing
  • Top 10 George Zimmerman Excuses for Speeding.
  • Top 10 Reasons Paula Deen Got Fired by the Food Network
  • Top Ten Ways Pope Francis is Deviating From Convention
  • Top 10 Reasons For the Pope's Resignation
  • Top 10 Emails Hacked From the Bush Family's Email Accounts
  • Top 10 Lies Told by Mitt Romney at the 2nd Debate.
  • Top 10 Examples of How Hard the Campaign Trail is on Ann D. Romney.
  • Top 10 Ways to Tell The Boston Red Sox Are Finished.
  • Top 10 Things Mitt May be Hiding in His Tax Returns.
  • Top 10 Events at the Romney Olympics.
  • Mitt Romney's Top 10 Wild & Crazy Moments.
  • Top Ten Reasons Why Dick Cheney Got a Heart Transplant.
  • Top 10 Facts About Tonight's New England/Denver Game.
  • My Top 10 Resolutions.
  • Top 10 Rejected Slogans of the Romney Campaign.
  • Top 10 Reasons Herman Cain Suspended His Campaign.
  • Top 10 Trending Topics on Twitter During #OWS Eviction.
  • Top 10 Herman Cain Pickup Lines.
  • Top 10 Changes Since Anthony Weiner Decided to Resign.
  • Top 10 Inaccuracies re bin Laden's Death.
  • Top 10 Ways to Prevent a TSA Patdown.
  • Top Ten Things Not to Say When You're Pulled Over.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why Donald Trump Bowed Out of the Presidential Race.
  • Top 10 Ways Evangelicals Will Prepare for the Rapture II.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Today's Parliament Inquiry into News Corp.
  • Top 10 Reasons Why There Was No Vote on the Debt Ceiling Last Night.
  • Top 10 Revelations in Dick Cheney's Upcoming Memoir.
  • Top Ten Ways Americans Will Observe the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.
  • Top Ten Advances in Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia.
  • Top Ten Inaccuracies in Bill O'Reilly's Book About Lincoln.
  • Top Ten Suggestions From the Cat Food Commission.
  • Top Ten Worst Moments in George W. Bush's Presidency.
  • Top Ten Facts in George W. Bush's Memoir.
  • Top Ten Reasons Terry Jones Postponed His Koran Burning
  • Top 10 Causes for Dick Cheney's Congestive Heart Failure
  • Top Ten Ways That Jan Brewer Will Celebrate Cinco de Mayo
  • Top Ten Demands in Sarah Palin's Contract
  • Top Ten Whoppers in Karl Rove's New Book
  • Top 10 Items Left Behind in Rush Limbaugh's Apartment
  • Top Ten Things Barack Obama said to Rush Limbaugh in the Hospital
  • Top Ten Bizarre Promos Offered by the New Jersey Nets
  • Top 10 Bush Executive Orders Labor Wants President Obama to Repeal
  • George W. Bush's Top Ten Lesser Achievements
  • Boolean Bozoism

  • #19
  • #18
  • #17
  • #16
  • #15
  • #14
  • #13
  • #11
  • #10
  • Kindle in the Wind, my dedicated site for my novels.
  • Christwire.org: Conservative Values for an Unsaved World.
  • Esquire's Charles Pierce.
  • Brilliant @ Breakfast.
  • The Burning Platform.
  • The Rant.
  • Mock, Paper, Scissors.
  • James Petras.
  • Towle Road.
  • Matt Taibbi's blog.
  • Avedon's Sideshow (the new site).
  • At Largely, Larisa Alexandrovna's place.
  • The Daily Howler.
  • The DCist.
  • Greg Palast.
  • Jon Swift. RIP, Al.
  • God is For Suckers.
  • Think Progress.
  • Hullabaloo, Digby's place.
  • The General.
  • The Rude Pundit.
  • Driftglass.
  • Bildung Blog, some of the funniest and sharpest captions in the b'sphere.
  • The Carpetbagger Report.
  • Newshounds.
  • Sadly, No!
  • William Grigg, a great find.
  • Oliver Willis, "Like Kryptonite to Stupid."
  • Brad Blog.
  • Fark.
  • Down With Tyranny!, Howie Klein's blog.
  • Wayne's World. Party time! Excellent!
  • Busted Knuckles, aka Ornery Bastard.
  • Mills River Progressive.
  • Right Wing Watch.
  • Earthbond Misfit.
  • Anosognosia.
  • Utah Savage.
  • Echidne of the Snakes.
  • They Gave Us a Republic.
  • The Gawker.
  • Outtake Online, Emmy-winner Charlotte Robinson's site.
  • The artist formerly known as Politits. The politics are still liberal.
  • Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo
  • No More Mr. Nice Blog.
  • Head On Radio Network, Bob Kincaid.
  • Spocko's Brain.
  • Pandagon.
  • Slackivist.
  • The Randi Rhodes Show.
  • WTF Is It Now?
  • No Blood For Hubris.
  • Politickybitch (Nunya).
  • Lydia Cornell, a very smart and accomplished lady.
  • Roger Ailes (the good one.)
  • Michael's Moore's official website.
  • BlondeSense.
  • The Smirking Chimp.
  • Hammer of the Blogs.
  • Blue Gal's Blog.
  • Vast Left Wing Conspiracy.
  • Argville.
  • Existentialist Cowboy.
  • The Progressive.
  • The Nation.
  • Mother Jones.
  • Vanity Fair.
  • Salon.com.
  • Raw Story.
  • Watching America.
  • Citizens For Legitimate Government.
  • News Finder.
  • Newsy.com, comparative, nonpartisan analysis of the media.
  • Indy Media Center.
  • Urban Dictionary.
  • Lexis News.
  • Military Religious Freedom. What Mikey Weinstein has found will make your head explode.
  • McClatchy Newspapers.
  • The New Yorker.
  • Bloggingheads TV, political vlogging.
  • The Pensito Review.
  • Find Articles.com, the next-best thing to Nexis.
  • Altweeklies, for the news you won't get just anywhere.
  • The Smirking Chimp
  • Don Emmerich's Peace Blog
  • The Talented Cafe, a resource for writers and artists.
  • Wikileaks.
  • The Peoples' Voice.
  • Dictionary.com.
  • CIA World Fact Book.
  • IP address locator.
  • Tom Tomorrow's hilarious strip.
  • Babelfish, an instant, online translator. I love to translate Ann Coulter's site into German.
  • Newsmeat: Find out who's donating to whom.
  • Wikipedia, an invaluable research tool.
  • Uncyclopedia.
  • anysoldier.com
  • Icasualties
  • Free Press
  • YouTube
  • The Bone Bridge.
  • Powered by Blogger

    http://DeeperLeft.com