The mayhem in the countries we know as Iraq and Syria is growing, and the sweeping reforms by the surging Islamic fundamentalists are especially degrading to women. The minute rules include the following:
- Women are banned from sitting on chairs (as reported verbatim).
- All women are obligated to wear Islamic attire, such as the niqab and burqa (which cover the entire body and face); sweaters, jeans, and makeup of any kind are strictly banned.
- Female clothing is not to be displayed in shop windows, and only women are allowed to work there; if a man is found on the grounds the shop faces closure.
- Women are banned from seeing male gynecologists.
While others may dispute this "interpretation" of Islam, it has a long history flowing from both the actions of Muhammed and the traditions codified in Reliance of the Traveller. These religions prescriptions take concrete form in decrees such as this, showing that even the burkha cannot guarantee safety:
Sheikh Abd al-Rahman Ali al-Dala, aid to the chief mufti of Syria, who is loyal to President Bashar Assad, gave aninterview to Sham FM, a radio station that supports Assad. In the interview, Al-Dala said Syrian army soldiers have permission to "marry" unmarried and married women, sisters and mothers of the rebel fighters, without any official marriage agreement. He clarified that the rape is intended as a punishment for not reporting the rebels to the goverment forces.
In making his statement, the Sheikh placed his religious authority behind the rape of women and girls by soldiers, as part of their fight against the rebels. According to testimony taken from captured soldiers and captains before they were put to death by rebels, rape has been employed as a common practice by the army, well before Al-Dala's official religious support was stated.
While particularly attractive women are reportedly brought to senior commanders, rape victims include religious muslim women dressed in face veils and full-body cloaks (niqab). It must be noted that for their part, the rebels have publicized religious permission for their fighters to do as they please with women who fall into their hands. Rebels from Al Qaeda have also apparently have been forcing Syrian Druze communities to convert to Islam.
A study in November found that Syria was the fourth worst country in the Arab world in terms of women's rights. Egypt was found to be the worst.
With ubiquitous dangers for women, Raymond Ibrahim summarises the impact:
All this is a reminder that, while the Islamic jihad may lead to brief, spectacular forms of terror—massacres, beheadings, rapes, bombed churches—its aftermath and goal, purportedly the creation of a “perfect Islamic society,” is “spectacular” in its own way, especially for women, who become virtually invisible members of society.
Naturally, who would set foot in the street under these conditions, or allow a wife or daughter out of the home?