Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I was relieved to read in the New York Times about Pope Benedict XVI meeting with some of the sex abuse victims from the ongoing scandals in the Catholic Church. Finally, after so many years, this Sunday, he came face to face with the people whose suffering he tried to keep a secret. It gave me hope that the religious figures of our time are not without (ironically) souls...
...but, then my friend forwarded this doozy:
An Iranian cleric believes promiscuous women cause earthquakes.
And once again, instead of using its great influence for positive change, this cleric is using religion to keep women oppressed. And what's the latest update? Young women in Iran dare to wear form-fitting coats and scarves instead of the traditional burqa, which leaves only a slit showing their eyes. These rebellious Iranian women showing their faces (and hair...whow) in public rather than hiding behind a cloth causes...yes, seismic activity.
The cleric in question, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, was quoted by Iranian media, "Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes." It appears Tehran, Iran's capitol city, is located in an area of increased seismic activity and many fault lines. But I suppose cleric Sedighi saw this as a great opportunity to try to shame women into wanting to dress in something other than a head-to-toe blanket.
Upon reading the story, Shanna Bolden, a George Mason University graduate student, commented, "This prayer leader is basically saying that men are animals, react only by instinct, and have no control over their own actions? In that case, women should have taken over Iran by now!!!" Excellent point, Shanna.
On a related subject, a poll was recently taken, following French President Nicolas Sarkozy's announcement of potentially banning the burqa. The poll showed that 70 percent of French respondents supported the ban, 65 percent showed support in Spain, and 63 in Italy. Furthermore, even 57 percent of UK voters were in favor, and 50 percent of those from Germany wanted to see this head-to-toe women's garment banned.
However, only 33 percent of Americans who took the poll were in support of its riddance. We claim to be such a liberal country, with freedom of choice and expression. So what's the issue here? Perhaps it has to do with our idea that church and state should be kept separate, as James Joyner of the Atlantic Council brought up.
But at the end of the day, the women of Iran were not demanding a ban of any sort. They simply want to dress in a way that allows them to move more comfortably and to feel more free in their daily lives. It is disheartening to think that the men who control these women's lives are coincidentally too weak to control their own sexual urges. So who should be ashamed?
Photo credit: Associated Press