Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The woman who might cause an earthquake...and other stories

Several weeks back an Iranian cleric unveiled a secret that only he was privy to:
Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes
At the time we could have ignored such a mindless statement. Assuredly, other Ithna'ashiri (Twelver) Shiite scholars such as the Grand Marja Ayatollah Sistani would cast such an assertion aside with ease. Yet, then one of their coreligionists Rima Fakih from a village just outside Tyre in South Lebanon, but now from what the right-wingers call Dearbornistan, caused a few tremors by becoming Miss USA. In fact, in some circles her victory set off vibrations high on the Ridiculous Scale. Debbie Schlussel - a highly disrespected blogger - managed to find the real story in Rima's accomplishment:
The Hezbollah-supporting Shi’ite Muslim, Miss Michigan Rima Fakihwhose bid for the pageant was financed by an Islamic terrorist and immigration fraud perpetrator–won the Miss USA contest.
What did Hezbollah actually have to say about the win. Well MP Hassan Fadlallah remarked that "We have different standards than the West by which we evaluate women." I think if I put MP Hassan in a room with Rima, he may recant his statement. Yet, that itself may cause it's own earthquake so to speak. Is Rima Fakih the future of what the world expects a Muslim woman to be? Well, France had it's first case of Burqa Rage when a 60-year old man ripped the veil off a Muslim woman in a clothing store. Maybe he expected to find Rima Fakih underneath -- again, another sign of an earthquake.

The world today is inordinately complex and hard to read. We believe stereotypes that are readily undermined. Take Syria, which is colored by a conservative religious tone in its society, yet colorful lingerie shops are ubiquitous in the Old Souq or Shari'a Hamra in Damascus. Laura Bush could be associated with the right-wing xenophobia by some, yet she shows tremendous cultural sensitivity towards Muslim cultures (see the Youtube clip).

The truth is that as our cultures, countries, and communities increasingly collide, the creative cacophony will give way to surprises. Who is the face of Islam? Is it Al-Qaeda sympathizer Anwar al-Awlaki? Or is it Mary Jane sympathizer Dave Chappelle? There are no monolithic answers, and many preconceptions we have are fit for throwing out the window. Let the earthquakes keep coming.

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