We are the victims
Women: Foremost victims of fundamentalist fanatics
September 25, 2001
Everywhere one goes these days one cannot help falling slowly into the
abyss of a conversation about terrorism, its meaning, causes and cures.
Most of my fellow American or Americanized Iranians talk of the excessively
belligerent rhetoric and naive self-interested stance of our host nation.
The usual questions and answers about all the wrongs committed by Americans
and Israelis in the region are presented list-like as un-amendable truths.
Catechisms of those of us whose lives, so closely linked with American
foreign policy blunders have come to know by heart. America's blind backing
of Israel -- even under Ariel Sharon's increasingly fascistic administration--,
its support of trashy, oil-rich skeikhdoms, and its backing of Saddam in
his war against Iran, the creation and support of Taliban in its war against
the Soviets, are all used to demonstrate the arrogance and naive diplomacy
of the Americans.
I myself, before September 11, would have agreed with them. What Israel
has done to the Palestinians is unjustifiable. Israel is an anger-producing
factory which on its own can produce more young men willing to die in order
to kill than any other nation. But the events of September 11, like most
events of this indigestible a proportion have, made me rethink everything.
Here is what I have come to reason. I agree with Ms.
Najmabadi's stance that we should stop trying to "explain"
these fanatics actions. Nothing justifies killing innocents even if it
is done out of justified anger. Enough anthropology please. These are
our people. We do not need a model with which to judge them. But there
is another reason why I no longer want to try to understand Muslim fanatics
or defend them. There is a reason why I do not mind military intervention.
I was born a Muslim. As a Muslim woman I am the foremost victim of these
fundamentalist fanatics. They who do not consider me a full witness in
a court of law, they who do not think me fit enough to decide for myself
if I should travel. They who would whip me for dressing as I would like
to, they who, if my husband dies, would take my child away and give her
to her paternal uncle, they who stone my sisters and torture my friends.
They are my enemy and I, the Muslim woman, their first victim. They terrorize
us as a warm-up to world terror. We are their target practice. We are
their first victims. By veiling us, by rendering us faceless, by silencing
us they define themselves.
By oppressing us they affirm their sense of manhood, their sense of being
Muslim which is "threatened" by blue jeans and rock and roll,
more than any foreign policy. The women under the Taliban who cannot even
study without fear of arrest are not considered citizens. Those women, those
Muslim women are victims. Long before the attacks on the World Trade Center,
they were robbed of their faces, their identities, their vocations, virtually
their very right to exist as humans. Now they will say Iran is not as bad
as the Taliban, but I say it is a question of degree not principle.
I know my friends would say, "Well many of these women want to be
treated this way." To them I say if only one of us is forced, then
no one is free. You cannot quantify human rights. You either believe in
it or not. Women who live under fundamentalist Islamic regimes are deprived
of basic human rights. Pure and simple. I mean, how many stonings and whippings
and slashings and imprisonments and killings does one need to see before
one declares oneself the enemy of these people? To turn a blind eye to these
injustices is akin to collaboration.
In my country even with its attempt at democratization, I am still only
half a witness. I still need my husband's permission to travel. I am not
a full citizen. I can still have the top of my feet slashed if I choose
not to wear socks in the summer. I do not need to wear a star, the forced
hejab that I have to wear is the loud indicator of my dehumanized status.
So these days when I talk to my friends I tell them, as a woman, I would
rather live in Sharon's Israel than Hamas' Palestine; Bush's American than
Khamenei's Iran; and almost anywhere else than Taliban's Afghanistan. Because
as terrible as the policies of these "imperialist bullies" may
be, I, as a woman, am freer under their rule than the Taliban or the Hamas
or our own Ansar Hezbollah. Women under Islamic fanaticism are like Jews
in Nazi Germany; we are the victims. There should be no doubt whose side
we are on. We are the victims.