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Islam: Protests



     Linda Nyquist, who works in a hospital and is deeply concerned about the plight of women, writes "A friend has just returned from Saudi Arabia, having worked for Saudi Medical Services. According to him, the restrictions on women have tightened, rather than loosened."
     She adds: The issues most challenging to western women are those involving legal rights and the right not to be mistreated and, of course, female circumcision. This is one issue on which we should ever compromise, even if it includes not giving aid to a country which practices it. This custom, while sanctioned as culturally significant and a part of the "religion," can only be regarded as barbarous.


     Greg Guanxi has mixed feelings about the youth-promoted change in non-Western countries. There are youth protests in most of them, but the protesters have only a confused idea of what they want. He writes:
     Having lived in China during the past year, I do believe the US has a "goodness" which remains elusive throughout many of the Third World countries I've toured. Whether, how, if, and when we "export" that goodness, is warrants endless debate. Regarding Mr. Hilton's comment about the 20's: I taught "The Great Gatsby" to university students in NE China and asked the students to compare the Roaring 20's in America to the Capitalist 90's in China. Some will be surprised and scramble for explanation when China erupts. I will not.
     Accounts of the plight of women in Afghanistan and elsewhere recall vehement protests by Persian students in West Los Angeles over the summer. After holding up traffic at one of the busiest intersections in the nation to call attention to their protest de rigueur, they hopped in their convertible Mercedes and drove to Sunset Blvd. to dine al fresco at a sushi bar. When confronted, few of the students had a firm grasp of what they were attempting to communicate, the complexity of the issues, or the consequences of their herding. I'm curious to know how the madam in Paris perceives the future for women in the ascending religion of Islam.


     My comment: For a very informative essay, see "The Coming Transformation of the Muslim World," by Professor Dale F. Eickelman of Dartmouth College. It is the 1999 Templeton Lecture on Religion and World Affairs.
     There are changes everywhere, but unfortunately many university courses show a failure to keep up with them. I agree with Greg Guanxi that the protests are often more noise than substance. They can end in the chaos to which the National University of Mexico has fallen prey.

Ronald Hilton - 10/21/99


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