Hijab hijinks at Harvard

December 19, 2016 • 3:15 pm

I’m sorry to keep hearing about how my alma mater (for my Ph.D.), Harvard, is becoming more and more Regressive Left (I’m tired of using that word, so if readers have another, let me know.) They created social justice placemats, the President threatened to punish students on campus if they belonged to single-sex “finals clubs” off campus, and now we have the obligatory celebration of the hijab—and Islam as feminism—in a post at the Harvard Gazette, “Islamic studies scholar addresses myths and mores behind the veil.” 

The scholar was Celene Ibrahim, an Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence and Co-Director of the Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education at Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School, as well as a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis University. Her talk was at Harvard’s “Faculty of Arts and Sciences Diversity Dialogues”, and her purpose was to address and dispel stereotypes about Islam.  The problem is that she whitewashed Islam, much as Karen Armstrong and Reza Aslan do. She told the crowd what they wanted to hear. Here are some of the things she said:

Ibrahim cited a 2011 Pew Research Center study that found “a median of 58 percent [of respondents] across four Western European countries, the U.S., and Russia, called Muslims ‘fanatical.’” She said the media shapes much of the American perception of Muslims as angry and oppressive.

Ibrahim acknowledged that while Muslim women are oppressed in some countries [JAC: that’s about all she said about that], Islamic theology is highly woman-affirming. “Muslim feminists often struggle … to reform misogynistic ideas, customs, and/or legal codes that don’t reflect the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad,” she said.

Well, I’ll decry those who call Muslims “fanatical” (though extremists ones are), but as for “women-affirming” theology, I’m not so sure about it. On what grounds are Muslim women “oppressed” in some countries? It’s the religious doctrine, stupid!. The Qur’an and hadith aren’t women-affirming, and, at any rate, whatever Muslim theology is now, it’s hardly pro-feminist. Even in Britain and the U.S., some Muslims are forced to wear the hijab by their families or peers, and of course there are all those Muslim-majority countries that hold attitudes like those shown below (taken from Pew’s “The World’s Muslims” study in 2013. First we get the percentage of people in Muslim-majority countries who favor making sharia the law of the land (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran were not surveyed!):


Then, among those who favor sharia as the law of the land, here are the data on women’s rights:


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And here’s the kicker: when you see the plot below, remember that Saudi Arabia, Iran and Yemen were NOT surveyed, and those nations would surely fall in the “middle Eastern” group. If these people are inspired by a “highly woman-affirming philosophy”, somehow they’ve got it badly wrong!


I can’t help but see Ibrahim as a “useful idiot” for Regressives, by which I don’t mean she’s an idiot, but that she’s blinkered and primed to say exactly what liberals want to hear. What they want to hear is something to resolve their cognitive dissonance over a people supposedly both “brown” and “oppressed” (traditionally a repository of liberal sentiments) being at the same time in the thrall of a theology/ideology that is misogynistic, homophobic, oppressive, and barbaric. How do you resolve this? You trot out Muslims like Ibrahim, who will assure you that Islam is grossly misunderstood. And the Harvard Liberals, eager to hear this stuff, will buy palpably false statements like this:

In addition, [Ibrahim] said, in places like America, much of what Muslim women do is a matter of choice. “There is great diversity in the Muslim community,” she said. While some Westerners may assume that Muslim women who wear clothing that covers everything but their eyes, pray in gender-segregated spaces, or attend women-only athletic facilities are being forced into an unwanted modesty, “There are some spaces where gender segregation is appropriate,” Ibrahim said.

In places like America, where only a few percent of the population is Muslim! What about places like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq and Afghanistan and Egypt, and now, increasingly, Turkey? How much choice do those women have? And is a Muslim girl in America forced to wear a hijab at age six in a faith school (also in the UK) really exercising “choice”? Has Ibrahim thought about that? And where, exactly, are the spaces where gender segregation is appropriate? In mosques, many of which are so segregated in the US? Please tell us, Ms. Ibrahim! (Maybe she just means restrooms.)

And, of course, Ibrahim extols the hijab—meant to symbolize modesty and to protect women from arousing the hormones of males, who will be driven into an uncontrollable sexual frenzy, like spawning salmon, at the sight of a woman’s hair:

Ibrahim talked at length about the symbolic, religious, and practical purposes of the hijab, the headscarf worn by many, but not all, Muslim women. The headscarf is a symbol that has a certain power, she said.

“Wearing the headscarf is a matter of feminism, aesthetics, and solidarity for me,” she wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece earlier this year. “The hijab is fun and dignifying … it’s part of my morning routine.”

Feminism? The very garment symbolizes men’s control of women’s sexuality! Aesthetics? What is that about? And solidarity with whom?  It’s like wearing a ball and chain on your head—one put there by men.

But of course the useful idiot was useful: the Harvard folks, eager to hear that Islam is really The Religion of Feminism, and is Grossly Misunderstood lapped it up Ibrahim’s spiel like a cat drinks cream:

Joshua Dunn, procurement administrator in the FAS Office of Administration and Finance, one of the more than 130 people who attended the dialogue at Radcliffe Institute’s Knafel Center, said Ibrahim “challenged me to think outside the box about what it must be like to a Muslim woman living in the U.S. … Certain customs might be a matter of perspective and we should not automatically view [them] as oppressive.”

“I thought she laid out a compelling vision of feminist ethics and the virtues of a pluralistic society that values all cultures and religious beliefs,” he said.

Dunn is clearly a man yearning for confirmation bias.  The “certain customs might be a matter of perspective” blather is exactly the kind of cultural relativism that the Left must avoid. For it says that although it looks as if women are oppressed in many Muslim countries on religious grounds, well, that’s just a “matter of perspective.” We can always hire someone like Ibrahim to come in and tell us that we’re wrong: Islam is really feminist.

What a crock.

Celene Ibrahim leads a Diversity Dialogue titled Muslim Feminism. She guides guests on how to ensure that the workplace is a hospitable one for Muslim women. Beyond providing practical advice, Ibrahim helps guests to understand that being Muslim and being feminist are not mutually exclusive. Celene Ibrahim is pictured during the talk in the Knafel Center at Harvard University. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
Celene Ibrahim leads a Diversity Dialogue titled Muslim Feminism. She guides guests on how to ensure that the workplace is a hospitable one for Muslim women. Beyond providing practical advice, Ibrahim helps guests to understand that being Muslim and being feminist are not mutually exclusive. Celene Ibrahim is pictured during the talk in the Knafel Center at Harvard University. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer (Harvard’s caption, emphasis by JAC)

125 thoughts on “Hijab hijinks at Harvard

  1. How about “Leftist Crockery” or “Leftist Muckery,” Dr Coyne, for The Other – phrasing thereof ?

    Indeed, so, so much CRUD within … … That Crock ! right on down to thus of “that being Muslim and being feminist are not mutually exclusive.”

    What a gigantic pile of the Big Ick – Factor !

    Crikey !

    1. Being Muslim and being a feminist is hard to wrap your head around, but I think some, like Maajid Nawaz, can legitimately claim it.

      1. I disagree. Sexism is the Original Sin. By my definition, Mr Carl, a feminist is godless / an atheist. Because of what the very vast majority of religions / of what being observantly religious means, and over all of the ages of any gods has meant, — but meant for only the human beings who are the female ones: subservience, to be less than, to be controlled over or by, to be The Other, the (ab)Normal, the (de)Human.



      2. But not if you wrap your head in a headscarf and scarf down such silly slampamp. I must say that “Hijab Hijinks” sounds like the name for a fraternity theme party, or an old-time porn flick.

          1. I hastened, with a sense of impending doom, to check “Da Roolz!” only to find there was no Rule 34, so was flummoxed for a momen; then did a Google search and found what I think you were referring to. But then I found Rule 34 for “elementary cellular automaton,” whatever the hell that is. Perhaps that’s what you were citing – could be cellular automaton porn — oh, and so early in the morning!

      3. Except most Muslims wont accept he can be genuinely liberal and Muslim so reject him as Muslim. Unless the regressive element of the Left stops legitimating this most muslims can go on blaming all their problems on the west as they are wont to do AND be joined by too much of the left in doing it.

      1. “Portward pillocks”? Though to be honest these people could only be considered in any sense left in America.

      2. “Distaff dunces”? Though that rather depends on the equation of the right hand with the sword hand, and as a southpaw I do see that as a confounding mistake.

  2. Like it or not the Hijab is a badge of slavery, a symbol of a mythology that goes to great lengths to deny a woman’s right to be sexually attractive. The Hijab is the Islamic yellow star of David, a reminder the individual is not equal to that society.

    Being a feminist Muslim is like being anorexic dietician, a walking talking contradiction.

    1. The Hijab is the Islamic yellow star of David, a reminder the individual is not equal to that society.

      Pink triangles and a variety of other symbols too. The Nazis did like to fit people into boxes before exterminating them.

    1. Yes, they should cover those heinous beards, (lest the infidel females will sexually assault them). I’m all for the male niqab.

  3. “Regressive leftists” are failed liberals. The “regressive left” is the illiberal left.

    I thought the “regressive” term was unfortunate from the beginning, and now it is plainly overused.

      1. But so does regressive. So much of what people in that group espouse as somehow moving forward is clearly a step backward, from shutting down criticism of certain groups and religions (and, as here, actively lying about them) to treating everyone differently based on their group (rather than what Dr. King espoused).

      2. I like “failed liberal” even better. These individuals count themselves as liberal, but fail to uphold the most important liberal values – freedom of thought and speech, along with others.

      3. theres a portion of this kind of left who reject liberalism as well for different reasons – they assume its too individualist, and/or too capitalist or too rationalist reductionist or its associated with narrow utilitarianism and doesnt care about the oppressed – and in common with the great bulk of this is its associated with the west and therefore imperialist

  4. “arousing the hormones of males, who will be driven into an uncontrollable sexual frenzy, like spawning salmon, at the sight of a woman’s hair”

    Just the thought of woman’s hair does it for me. FAIL. Hijab are not even wrong. Perpetual reminders of the gullible nature of humans.

  5. TV in America today has a lot of what is called reality TV, although there is not much reality to it. Same could be said for this Harvard speaker. Good posting.

  6. Another great post about Islam Dr. Coyne! As usual I cant disagree with you much at all on the topic

    Maybe Islam and Feminism are not mutually exclusive, but the overlap between the two is certainly pretty small. I dont hear many people trying to defend Christianity as a feminist religion and as someone who has read both books, I must say the Bible is at 8 out of ten on the misogyny meter, but the Quran is at an 11. My Muslim friends seem to either deny the misogyny in the book or they impute that to the times and culture, not the religion. I for one am in favor of being honest about what the book says and the connection between that and how at least a significant amount of people act. Many of the same people who complaine about the lyrics to that “blurred lines” song are the ones who promulgate this “Islam is feminism” lie, and thats a problem.

    As far as renaming the the regressive left, howabout the illiberal left, or the Democrackpots;-)

    1. The worst part is that they keep giving support and credence to the people who wash current widespread oppressive Islamic attitudes and governments, while simultaneously denigrating and denouncing people who are trying to reform Islam to make it more liberal. It’s absolutely shocking, and I cannot think of a better example of the cognitive dissonance on the far left that so often occurs when one ends up in thrall with the Oppression Olympics and their Hierarchy of Oppressed Peoples.

    2. Bible is less sexist than Quran but on the other hand, OT is more sexist than Quran. I think one of the greatest achievements in diminishing barbarism inherent in Christianity (and Judaism) is to (mostly) ignore the problematic parts of OT. Islam has yet to do that to Quran (and Hadith).

    3. As far as renaming the the regressive left, howabout the illiberal left, or the Democrackpots;-)

      These idiots are also present in countries outside America. What is the point in inventing a terminology which you need to change for each country you need to apply it to?

  7. “Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence and Co-Director of the Center for Inter-Religious and Communal Leadership Education at Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School.” I wonder if they have a Hinduism Studies, Buddhism Studies, or Atheist Studies Centers? Maybe a Mormon Studies Center?

        1. I knew Newton wasted a huge amount of brain sweat on religion. So he was an Arian, was he. No wonder he kept that quiet in the post-Civil War years.

  8. I’d like to see Ibrahim walk down a street in Riyadh in the outfit she’s wearing in the picture. Might not be so “fun and dignifying” then.

    What a crock is right.

    1. Or wear that outfit in Sudan, where it is illegal for women to wear trousers.


      It is interesting to see her wear the repressive hijab at the same time she takes advantage of liberal Western dress codes. (Though even in the West, we are still enforcing Christian sexual morality in our dress codes, where men are free to expose their nipples in public but women typically are not.)

        1. Exactly what Muslims say about women’s exposed necks, hair and arms, and why women must cover up but not men.

          It’s harder to see one’s own sexist presumptions from the inside.

          1. It’s really not a “sexist assumption” to see women’s breasts as more sexual in nature than men’s. Women’s breasts are a big part of both sex as an act and, by extension, sexual appeal, while men’s are….not.

            1. “It’s really not a “sexist assumption” to see women’s breasts as more sexual in nature than men’s. Women’s breasts are a big part of both sex as an act and, by extension, sexual appeal, while men’s are….not.”

              Speak for yourself 🙂

              But, again, you haven’t actually addressed the fact that that is exactly what Muslims say about the hair, neck and arms of women: that they must cover those parts up because the drive men to lust.

              And, again, you are looking at this from the inside of your own culture and upbringing, so much so that you aren’t questioning your own assumptions about the sexualization of breasts.

              1. “And, again, you are looking at this from the inside of your own culture and upbringing, so much so that you aren’t questioning your own assumptions about the sexualization of breasts.”

                Countless cultures have had that attitude towards breasts, be it sexual, maternal, nourishing, live-fulfilling… One only needs to see how primal art would depict’em.

                But here :


            2. It’s really not a “sexist assumption” to see women’s breasts as more sexual in nature than men’s.

              How many of your male friends do you know to have nipple piercings? How many of your male friends do you know to not have nipple piercings?

          2. I agree, but the difference is within a small scope: beaches and swimming pools. Everywhere else, men are also required to cover their torso.
            This said, I’d like the top part of bikini to go to history. It feels terribly when wet, and much more expensive than the bottom part. I even suspect that the latter fact is behind its continuing survival.

            1. Everywhere else, men are also required to cover their torso.

              Again, speak for yourself. It’s nothing unusual to see men walking bare chested down the street in Britain. In summer, of course.

              1. “Again, speak for yourself. It’s nothing unusual to see men walking bare chested down the street in Britain.”

                Also, horseback riding in Russia, apparently…


      1. One of the reasons I love living in New York – the law explicitly states that anywhere it is legal for a man to be topless, it is legal for a woman to be topless. And that’s basically all public places: the parks, beaches, street, subway, etc. That’s true equality under the law.

      2. Though even in the West, […] where men are free to expose their nipples in public but women typically are not.

        There re people fighting to expose the idiocy of those laws and campaigning to change them. Strangely though, their topless campaigns tend to happen in the summer. Odd that.

  9. A couple ideas for alternatives to “regressive left”. Perhaps, “Overbearing left” or “Ideologue left”. Or maybe combine for “Overbearing left-wing ideologues”.

  10. A reformed Islam certainly could be feminist.

    I’m not sure what such a reform would consist of, but among others it would involve a return to the relatively free and open society of what historians call the Islamic Golden Age from the 8th to 13th century.
    (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age ).
    During this time, the Arabic world was very open to influences from Greek, Indian, and Chinese civilization, and was quite tolerant towards Jews. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_contributions_to_Islamic_world for the Greek bit.)

    Islam now appears to be caught up in a hyper-regressive period dominated by fundamentalism reminiscent of the late Middle Ages dominated by the most retro forces in Christianity. Something has to give.

    1. Most of the freedoms of the “Islamic Golden age” are very much exaggerated. The BBC also loves to run on about how Alhambric Spain was a paradise of multicultural ecstasy and enlightenment. The intellectuals were largely non muslim and the intellectualism was confined to the court. Non muslims were third class citizens despite all the hype and despite all the hype so were women in most of the Islamic world.

    2. Reformation of Islam would require throwing out some two thirds of its Scripture (the Koran and the Hadiths) as well as denying most reported facts from the life of Prophet Mohammed, or, alternatively, admitting that the Prophet was evil.

  11. Gotta love how she cherry picks Islam: Misogyny? That’s not in the Qur’an! (It is.) Yet then she goes on to extol the virtues of the Hajib, which *isn’t* in the Qur’an. Her Qur’anic originalism is very selective.

    1. Well, if covering your hair and neck is “is fun and dignifying” then adding a veil must increase the fun and dignity. Swap the hijab out for a full covering shapeless burka and you will achieve the maximum fun and dignity possible!


      1. In reply to Scote, I found a quote from Celine (I’m presuming she was born into a Jewish family and converted to Islam in some fit of individuality) said that she wore the veil in her 20’s and found it “fun and exciting” or some such nonsense.

        She sounds like a typical liberal that fetishizes anything foreign as better than the west by default.

        Must have watched The Sheltering Sky one too many times.

        1. Celine (I’m presuming she was born into a Jewish family

          What grounds do you have for that presumption. I only see “Celine” as a variant on “Celeste”. It’s certainly not an OT name.

        2. She’s a convert:

          “At Princeton I concentrated in Near Eastern studies and embraced Islamic faith wholeheartedly during a semester studying in Cairo, which was followed by a year of intensive Arabic studies in the region. In Cairo, I met a Muslim man who became my life partner; we married not long after and started a family. “Most kids come home from trips with souvenirs,” my mother quips, with a grin. “Celene returns with a new religion, a spouse, a baby.””


          Being an enthusiastic convert to Islam is consistent with her adopting the veil for a while:

          “I even wore a face veil for a number of years in my early 20s because I enjoyed the privacy that it afforded and, admittedly, shattering the many misinformed stereotypes about women in veils. “


          And, best of all, she’s sharing these values with her daughter:

          “As our daughters now grow up together, they are proud and comfortable in their long skirts and loose-fitting, full-length swimsuits, their “burkinis.” Maybe our daughters will even think a little less about their body image on account of having this alternative style and will feel slightly less pressured to conform to some of the dominant norms related to female sexuality and beauty.”


          Less pressured? Or more pressured to cover up because women cause un-controlable lust in men, and it is the *woman’s* responsibility to cover up rather than men’s responsibility to behave appropriately?

          There are definitely problems with our corporately defined standards of beauty, but replacing them with Islamic shame bags doesn’t strike me as a preferable alternative.

        3. I should add, it seems like she’s a Christian convert as she refers to another woman as “one of my dearest friends and another Anglo-American convert to Islam”.

          She also adds that “Our scarves, and subsequent greetings of peace, helped us to recognize one another as having similar values”.

          Given that she’s an ultra-liberal Muslim who serves as “Muslim Chaplain” at Tufts University and serves as ” Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence at Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School” one wonders how a hajib signifies shared values with other women. How many other Muslims think that women can be “chaplains” in Islam?

          In some ways, Celene Ibrahim’s liberal Islam and support of interfaith communication seems great, the kind of Islam we should encourage as reformed, yet in others, she seems utterly blinkered to the misogyny of Islam in spite of her substantial scholarship. She’s sort of liberal, yet also sort of not, advocating hijabs and making her daughter wear a burkini. So I don’t know what to make of her

    1. Absurd! True liberals in America, who are most of the people on the political left, believe much more in enlightenment values than the authoritarian rightists who now run the United States. Perhaps you can make a case in other countries, but not here. To the best of my ability, I will not leave such blatant falsehoods unchallenged.

        1. Craw comes here to troll us on politics — although, to be fair, as to science, he seems to be that rara avis: a right-winger who accepts unguided Darwinian evolution. 🙂

            1. There’s a continuum, of course, but there are strong correlations among an array of factors on either side of the spectrum.

              Surely you’re not oblivious to which side is strongly anti-science? There were 17 candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination last year. Not a one of them openly accepted evolution; not a one of the openly acknowledged climate change. Surely, you don’t think that was a coincidence?

              1. The strongly anti-science side? Those that deny human nature? I’ll let you choose between right and left.

                How about those that strongly support all ten amendments to the Bill of Rights – right or left?

                Free markets?

              2. Plenty of science denial on the left. Just different science. But even some evolutionary theory gets rejected on the left. Just look at the recent stuff on this site about sexual selection and the idea that behavior can evolve.

                I think that it is quite likely the most people *who actively define themselves as left wing* rather than just “I vote democrat” or “I’m a liberal” buy into many aspects of the Regressive Left. If Historian thinks it a “blatant falsehood”, rather than simply an opinion he does not share, I suggest the burden of proof is on him. Where’s his proof?

                What I mostly defend on this site is comity and free speech. I was for instance one of only two here who actively objected to the SPLC making enemies lists (and a list with people who have already faced death threats and attacks no less), a blunt attack on both. If you want to call that right wing, feel free.

            2. Jesus H, Craw, what you describe as “science denialism” on the left resides in rarified slivers of the academy, publishing in journals no one’s ever heard of and that few outside the academy ever read.

              As of next month, science denialism on the right will reside in the White House, in the leadership of the US senate, on the subcommitte for Science, Space, and Technology of the US House of Representatives, for Crissakes.

              1. … what you describe as “science denialism” on the left resides in rarified slivers of the academy …

                … infecting new generations with their nonsense. If it’s such a rarefied sliver, how is it post modernism was ever noticed? Or the “blank slate” paradigm achieved dominance and only now is being rolled back?

                At least politicians can be voted out.

              2. “As of next month, science denialism on the right will reside in the White House”

                Yes, and we can expect an exodus of top US scientists to Europe, and probably to China.

  12. Notice how she doesn’t even wear the traditional headscarf. I’ve seen a few of her talks on YouTube, and she never fails to be wearing a smattering of hippie-esque modifications to the standard Muslim attire, and the headscarf looks more like a bishops mitre than a hijab.

    She’s a liberal hipster-Muslim who has found a lucrative way to make a living: telling liberals the lies they crave to ease their cognitive dissonance.

    1. There is one “traditional” “standard” Muslim dress code? Well probably there is – one per town or county. And nobody considers the heretic barbarians from a days walk away to be “true Muslims”.
      The same goes for those barbarians from over in the next glen with their wrong tartan.

      1. Because EVERYTHING in the universe is analogous to the celts especially Anglo-Celtic antagonism and the celestially boring four kingdom male identity politics of all of them all four chest thumping poms, scots, irish and welsh. The world is not each of them even if each of them think their struggles encapsulate world history. Bedouin nomadic tribalism is uniquely kin oriented in a way other pastoral nomadism isn’t and its infused Islam.

  13. “Left-wing Authoritarians” would be my suggestion (although I have my reservations about their leftist bona fides, which may be my own “no true left-wing Scotsman” hang-up).

    1. I spent years working with card-carrying Communist party members who were Red Clydesiders back when being a Red Clydesider was something to be proud of, who would chew these “Regressive Leftists” up an spit them out just on their pretensions to left-wing politics, let alone their Regressiveness.

  14. A person I used to work with ( he had an Afghan father, British mother, brought up in London, supported Arsenal, drank alcohol, ate pork, went nighclubbing and had girlfriends a-plenty but still considered himself a good Muslim and looked forward to the day when sharia law would be implemented in the UK once there was a muslim majority population ) explained hijabs, burkas etc to me like this…. ‘Think about it man, how can I pray to my god when I’m surrounded by hot pieces of ass?’

    1. Some have a bit of a split life and personality because of the competing pressures of own community/family and western society they live in

      1. ex muslim sites talk about this phenomenon a lot. Council of Exmuslims of USA/Canada
        Faith to Faithless, Iram Ramzan, Marian Namatzie, Maajid Nawaz, Ali Rizvi, Saif Rahman etc.

    2. ‘Think about it man, how can I pray to my god when I’m surrounded by hot pieces of ass?’

      Is it time for the old joke about Padraig going to confession and getting three good tips from the padre?
      I know that it is common to have sexually segregated preying areas in modern mosques, but I don’t know that it’s a universal (Koranic) requirement. And it probably was not possible for impromptu trail-side mosques in the nomadic Bedouin lifestyle which many Arabic Muslims hold as some sort of ideal. (In the same way that being a Wild West Cowboy is an ideal of some sort to American culture.)

    3. Perhaps that Afghan/British guy should worry less about praying to his imaginary god and more about being more respectful toward women. For starters, don’t call them “hot pieces of ass”. What a jerk.

  15. The problem is not islamic scripture is full of hatred, misogyny etc., Old Testament is more violent than Quran. The problem is that muslims are highly literalist. They believe every word, every letter of Quran is from God, hence unchangeable and true to all men and women until doomsday. As an ex-muslim I can feel and understand how muslims react to Quranic massege. Regressive left should hear ex-muslims as a legitimate representative of islamic world, and what they are worrying about.

    1. the quran is only about 170 pages and has violence or ruthless subordination of non muslims and unbelievers, on every page.
      The bible is about 3,000 equivalent pages long. Some parts are very violent but a much smaller percentage. Moreover the old testament in the bible is not taken literally – by jews and christians except by a tiny minority — the ultra orthodox. Even orthodox jews view the great majority of it historically. The bible has no equivalent of war against all non jews – just specific (now extinct) ancient peoples. Nor is there the equivalent of a 1,000 years of jihad and accompanying scripture besides the Quran backing it up.

      Much of the additional jewish scripture and interpretation that has accrued waters down the more severe Old Testament prescriptions or has caused them to be abandoned. No Jews stone anyone for homosexuality or adultery tho the bible instructs this.

      The Quran is taken literally by all orthodox muslims there is no equivalent of Reform jews, and all Muslims believe the Quran must be interpreted alongside the sahih ahadith – which if are just as aggressive, misogynist,gay and apostate punishing if not more so than the Quran. The Shia also refer to the sayings of the direct descendants of Ali who died out in the 12th Century or before. Hadith are considered to be the recorded sayings and deeds of the prophet and things he approved of, and occasionally also the sayings and deeds of his Companions.

      1. The bible has no equivalent of war against all non jews – just specific (now extinct) ancient peoples.

        Those parts of the Bible and the people who wrote, copied and propagated them were probably subject to a strong selection pressure (i.e. put to the sword) by the Judea-conquering Babylonians.

        No Jews stone anyone for homosexuality or adultery tho the bible instructs this.

        Do you want to take a bet on whether or not there are U-O Jews alive today who aspire to this? Loser buys winner a night on the beer?

        1. Vanishingly rare cf Islam where it is orthodoxy.
          If you can give an instance of it actually happening since say, the Ethiopian jews were airlifted to Israel. Otherwise Jews have been pretty much modernised

  16. Perhaps silly ideas like this will ensure that Mr Trump will be voted a second term in office?
    Here in Britain we also have a vocal but unelectable Left which regularly shoots itself in the foot over many, many, similar issues, with the result that we now have a comparatively Right Wing Government and the appalling Nigel Farage as some sort of tattered icon.

    1. I’m having a mental image of Nigel Farage being hoist on a pole (*) and burned. Probably by our Beloved Prime Minister, and most definitely not in effigy.
      (*) No, not on a petard. No idiot would set light to a petard, for fear of being hoist upon it.

  17. Dear Professor Coyone
    I enjoy reading your blog quite a lot. Writing about “Left” with adjective “regressive” you seem to me to be too polite. I am afraid that they are not holding too any rational thoughts – it seems to me “the academic left” lost completely touch to reality and the best description would be “lunatic left”.
    I feel betrayed as there is no movement on the left with rational, popular program which can propose practical remedy to build a plan for self sustainable and more uniform development. There is shrinking and corrupt “secular centre” with “religious right” opposed (+- ?) by “lunatic left”.
    I am surprised that we can still enjoy some democratic freedom.
    Best wishes for Christmas
    and looking forward for more articles from you

    1. I agree academic left have a lot to answer for in following metaphysical philosophies and sticking to a one size fits all times ideology rather than practical history of improvements based not just or even mainly on ideas but changing/peculiar circumstances of geography, communication, cultural/historical inheritance, technology etc. such as “A plea for culinary modernism”

      I think this section of the Left mean well but are hopelessly naive/tribal which has destructive consequences. Some parts of the west are more polarised between religious and/or economic right versus a hardline left than others. Regressive left or illiberal left are both apt.

    2. “it seems to me “the academic left” lost completely touch to reality and the best description would be “lunatic left”.”

      That is too generically dismissive and too much of an ad hominem, and it’s also already in use by right wingers to denigrate all liberals as “The Loony Left”.

  18. This section of the left encourages right wing populists, whilst rightly decrying their racism/discrimination it turns a blind eye to real problems.

    The fall back of human behaviour is traditionalism – practical benefits of moving away from it for the average person have to continue to be shown. Just as different situations require different economic plans for the benefit of the most people possible and eliminate as far as possible extreme want in the nation. Pretending there is no such thing as the nation and limited absolute capabilities within it is not realistic.

    Continuing economic crises, especially when combined with cultural change and ongoing security challenges will undermine liberalism if it is not defended rationally. Those who turn a blind eye to real problems encourage the backlash of atavistic populism and traditionalist values that undermine rights, stability and economy for the majority in the longer term.

    In the past few hours Terrorist lorry attack in Berlin kills 12, 50 wounded – detained driver was Afghan/Pakistani, body of man in truck thought to be the original (Polish) driver, who is missing since the truck was stolen from Poland. Trump is stirring it for all its worth “President-elect Donald Trump blamed “Islamist terrorists” for a “slaughter” of Christians in the German capital”. He is such an idiot he will use it to side with Russians and probably even Assad because he thinks that they fight ISIS and Islamists (ha ha). Of course this will alienate the sunni muslim world and entirely play into the hands of ISIS/Muslim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda which would give them good reason to attack in Europe over Christmas/holiday period.
    Meanwhile nationalist populist anti European/NATO parties are on the ascendancy all over Europe, (including Poland and Hungary) and Germany has announced its intention to seek to pass legislation to heavily fine Facebook every time it allows something that is fake news to stay up for more than 24 hours – that is fake news attacking the established political order in order to skew the election against NATO. Apparently the Russians have set up bots to propagate anything that will discredit united Europe figures and policies

    1. Maybe I am overestimating the intelligence of pres.-elect Trump, but I doubt he thinks Russians will fight ISIS and Islamists. Rather, I think his declaired love of Putin and Russia stems from his unwillingness to do anything about Putin destroying Syria and Europe. If Trump considers Russia the aggressor she is but does nothing to stop her, this will expose him as terribly weak, as it has exposed Obama. So Trump prefers to say that Russia is good so there is no need to do anything.

      As for the German idea to go after Facebook, I suppose this is not to counter Russian propaganda but to suppress information and reactions about the consequences of Merkel’s immigration policy. Remember, German media tried not to report the Cologne attacks and then the murder of Maria Ladenburger. Also, German police didn’t show the CCTV record of a man kicking a woman in Berlin subway, and investigation went nowhere until the tabloid Bild published it. I think the authorities thought the dark-haired, olive-skinned perpetrator was a recent Muslim migrant. In fact, he turned out to be my compatriot.

      1. the two BBC articles on the issue I saw both say its thought to be (though not confirmed a Pakistani – sadly thought to be an aslum seeker but not confirmed.

  19. Meanwhile, a report from Pakistan:

    “It was just a few seconds, a video clip of several young women laughing and clapping to music, dressed for a party or a wedding in orange headscarves and robes with floral patterns. Then a few more seconds of a young man dancing alone, apparently in the same room. The cellphone video was made six years ago, in a village deep in Kohistan, a rugged area of northwest Pakistan. It was the last time the young women, known only as Bazeegha, Sareen Jan, Begum Jan, Amina and Shaheen, have ever been definitively seen alive.”


    (The girls were sentenced to death by the village’s elders, tortured and killed by their families. The boy and some of his family members were also murdered. That’s a feminist culture in action.)

    1. Actually about 4 years ago the Australian National University hosted a “feminist” conference where according to the press report and the online outline of the program, they equated honour killings, which are after all done by and within families lauded and approved by the tribal societies in which such killings occur – to regular domestic violence in Western societies which is not approved of let alone required by western societies. They also compared it to military ethos, specifically, of course Western military ethos. Pathetic.

      and then there was this

  20. Re : polls #4, 6 and 7, (Woman initiating a divorce ; are polygamy and divorce moral?) Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t all of these in the Koran. Therefore question settled. (In which case, the polls are actually asking “Are you knowledgable of the Koran and do you follow it?”)
    If they’re in the Hadith, then you an just have a religious war to settle the point in a bloodbath. Seems the approved way of setting these matters.

      1. Needs an Islamic scholar to arbitrate. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of women doing the opposite through the so-called “Sharia Courts” in Britain (really more like arbitration services – no real legal standing).

        1. The sharia courts do rather the reverse – they would grant divorce to women in the most exceptional circumstances – generally they try to prevent women knowing their rights under secular law(some of whom don’t or barely speak english) and reinforce the community gender norms



          One Law for All,, Mariam Namazie and Gina Khan together with Southall Black sisters have lots of info on this

          Recommendations of their submission to the review of sharia courts in Britain

          highlight extract from report as follows:
          1) Accusations of “anti-faith”, “Islamophobia” and racism constitute an attempt to delegitimise the evidence of secular witnesses to the inquiry.

          2) Sharia councils violate human rights. Based on their own statements, Sharia councils consider themselves to be courts, giving rulings on Islamic law which they consider binding on all Muslims.

          3) Sharia judges have made statements supporting the criminalising of blasphemy and apostasy and justifying the killing of apostates. The label of “apostate” carries grave risk of shunning, violence and death.

          4) Challenging any aspect of Sharia court decisions may lead to threats and charges of blasphemy and apostasy in Britain and abroad.

          5) Sharia court jurisprudence and practice violate every article of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). In particular, they violate Article 16 on marriage and family relations. The concept of “zina” which criminalises sex outside marriage is key to understanding the operation of Sharia courts.

          6) Secular values underpin human rights treaties on ending gender discrimination. They cannot be set aside in favour of religious discrimination.

          7) CEDAW recommendations declare that the state must end parallel and customary legal systems as they violate women’s right to equality.”

          1. Oh we know that it’s all lies – after all, we’re talking about a religion here. Worse – a monotheistic religion.

      2. I don’t think the Quran says but the sahih hadith are categorical that the man initiates divorce. http://hadithoftheday.com/divorce/
        the man just does the I divorce you pronouncement three times over three successive menstrual periods – but in some interpretations all at once

        Its fiendishly difficult and uncommon for a woman to do so. The Hanifa (most moderate sunni school) lawbooks are categorical that women should only be allowed to divorce only in the most exceptional circumstances for “she is the servant and the man is the person served” and otherwise it would be too easy for her to get out of her obligation to serve him.

    1. The sahih hadith like bukhari are agreed by All sunni muslims – about 80% of muslims. Likewise for Shias and Sunnis alike the Shia Avatar Caliph Ali said that 90% of sexual crimes are the fault of women, and 90% of property crimes the fault of men, so Shias likely are the same moreover the Quran mentions only divorce initiated by males on about 10-15 sections. if a marriage is seen to be obviously under stress, someone mediates With the Couples relatives not them – moreover the man has more Madhab – Qurannically recognised relatives – than the woman

  21. I see my country of birth (Tajikistan) in Pew Research Poll and it drew me crazy. I don’t know the techniques of polling (if there’re any) but I didn’t expect such high numbers. Although I grew up in the city and majority of people dress as somehow west (US/Europe), but in that country more than 60% of population lives in the villages and I believe they are definitely not in any way feminist in ideology. But thanks the government is strictly (very strictly) secular (maybe some post USSR effects). Because when Tajikistan’s president ruled that nobody below 18 years old should attend mosque, US and Human Rights groups (which I support in other issues) complained about it.

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