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Egypt Celebrates International Women’s Day

…by condemning the 1978 UN Convention Against Gender Discrimination as “incompatible with the values of Islamic sharia.” Need we tell you that the political forces behind this tastefully timed pronouncement were those empowered by the so-called Arab Spring? As the AFP notes:

The Freedom and Justice Party, political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, says it does not endorse gender discrimination, although the Brotherhood argues women should not be allowed to rule the country.

The party is the dominant bloc in both houses of parliament after a sweeping victory in a multi-phase general election that began in November. Women hold just two percent of the seats in parliament.

Meanwhile, MSNBC reports on the brave women who are protesting against this return to medievalism under the ominous headline “An Egyptian Career Woman? Soon it Could Be Rare“:

It’s a sea change from the ousted regime of President Hosni Mubarak, when women were guaranteed 64 parliamentary seats.  In the latest post-revolutionary elections, the quota was eliminated and women won only five seats.  “The other seats went to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists,” said El Soud, co-founder of the Revolutionary Women’s Coalition, which has 4,000 members on Facebook.

“We are going backward, backward and backward,” she added.

Indeed. Via Meadia can’t help but wonder: where all the fashionable pundits who rapturously heralded the Arab Spring as the flowering of peace, justice and democracy, now that its victors are enacting their decidedly less appealing agenda? Studiously looking the other way, it seems.

Via Meadia has no interest in telling the Arabs how to manage their revolutions. In the first place they wouldn’t listen, and in the second they shouldn’t: every people has to test and experiment as it struggles to balance its inherited religious views and cultural practices with the challenges of contemporary life. Secular reformers in the Islamic world like the Shah of Iran tried to run roughshod over the religion of the people, and the results haven’t been pretty.

The revolutions that are shaking the Middle East today are populist but not necessarily democratic, and they are rooted in the impact of modern social and economic pressures but they are not ideologically modernist. It may be inconvenient for democracy advocates in the west, but more democratic governance in some countries may lead to fewer rights for women, religious minorities, gays and westernization advocates than these groups enjoyed under past tyrants. In the same way in American history, there have been epochs when more populist government meant fewer rights for minorities: it was Andrew Jackson who sent the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears.

Our democracy advocates and NGO activists like to think of history as a nice linear progression towards the liberal promised land in which all good things work together, and “good” forces and “bad” forces can be clearly distinguished. This is strong hearted but weak brained. History is much deeper and more inscrutable than our PC humanitarians like to think.

Some Americans think that because history is such a mess and the good guys cannot be helped or in some cases even identified, the US should “stay out” of other countries’ politics and affairs.  It’s a nice thought, and at least in theory it could save us some trouble, but it isn’t possible. The world is too linked up, American interests are too global, and the American government is too easily affected by the sentiments (misguided though they may sometimes be) of the American people to pursue a policy of principled nonintervention with any consistency or success.

So the Arabs will mush along with their unsatisfactory spring, and the Americans will mush along with our unsatisfactory foreign policy, and the international system will continue to disappoint those expecting a liberal utopia to suddenly appear and make all our problems go away.

 

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  • Brendan Doran

    In other news Dog bites Man, and white swans have been spotted.

    They don’t want modernism. Type in any dysfunctional or dare I say evil behavior into any search engine and many justifications will appear.

    And any intervention in our interests would indeed invoke the ghost of Jackson. Funny you mention that…

    We certainly can stay out of the linked in world – that’s nonsense. Our connection to it is a choice, one whose consequences we can’t bear. If you can’t bear the sight of our Marines [colorfully expressing their disdain) on a hated and hateful foe world Hegemony is not for you.

  • http://westernhero.blogspot.com/ Silverfiddle

    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the headline. I’m thinking, how are they celebrating it? With free mandatory virginity checks?

    Where indeed are the fashionable pundits now?

  • Mrs. Davis

    <em<the US should “stay out” of other countries’ politics and affairs. It’s a nice thought, and at least in theory it could save us some trouble, but it isn’t possible. The world is too linked up, American interests are too global

    There is an immense difference between involving the United States in the governance of other countries and defending our national interest. The former is one of many means, the later the end goal. Meddling in other countries’ internal affairs has not proven to be an effective way to defend our interests, particularly to the extent the other country does not share our values.

    We should do more rewarding of our friends and more punishing of our enemies. This would make our interests clear and accelerate the adoption of values of which we approve.

  • BobJustBob

    Reminds me of the series of photos showing advancement of hijab on women at the University of Cairo over the years.

    http://uppitywoman08.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/women-of-egypt-then-and-now/

  • Kris

    Well, you recall how they celebrated Yom Kippur

    Mrs. Davis@3: Black Box foreign intervention.

  • Dave (in MA)

    Lara Logan could not be reached for comment.

  • http://www.allenmitchum.com Allen Mitchum

    And the Saudi Arabianization of the Muslim World continues…

  • Steve E

    @7 Allen Mitchum says:

    “And the Saudi Arabianization of the Muslim World continues…”

    Very astute observation!

    I found this paragraph particularly insightful,
    “Our democracy advocates and NGO activists like to think of history as a nice linear progression towards the liberal promised land in which all good things work together, and “good” forces and “bad” forces can be clearly distinguished. This is strong hearted but weak brained. History is much deeper and more inscrutable than our PC humanitarians like to think.”

    We see in Mubarek one of the prices paid for western and NGO support…equality of women. It would seem that democracy all along in Egypt did not support this “universal” truth.

  • Harry Schell

    This is what smaht diplomacy and leading out of Obama’s behind gets you.

    If Hillary ever was “the smartest woman in America”, she sure seems to have slipped a few gears since then…

  • richard40

    But Hillary just told us that the US is just as bad toward our women as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran are, because we dont want to force our churches to give them free birth control pills, and some of us think that abortion involves taking a human life. If we dont stop our “war against women” and start handing out the free birth control, we may as well be the Taliban. So why should any women be worried that women are being denied basic rights, and getting raped and murdered in the arab world, when we are doing something even worse, not giving free birth control. After all, aren’t they just following their culture, what right do we have to complain, when we deny mandated free birth control.

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