Secularism and Human Rights

At a conference held at the Carnegie Foundation to discuss political reforms in Egypt, and the possible inclusion of "Islamist" in the Egyptian political process, a young woman from the organization, Freedom House stood up to ask a question. In so many words she said her concern about the inclusion of "Islamist" in the political process in Egypt, is their lack of respect for human, and women’s rights. The panelist agreed, saying in so many words, that on issues related to political and civil rights, Islamist are all right, but when it comes to individual liberties for women, Islamist might have some work to do. The conversation was laughable, considering that both assumed that the status quo would dictate who will be part of the process. Isn’t that contrary to universal human and political rights? Does the status quo alone, legitimately own the right to decide whom among its citizenry has a right to political expression, participation, and inclusion in the processes of a civil society. To imagine that we are takling of democratic reforms in a discussin about who should be allowed to participate is strange. How could such an idea be the catalyst for democratic reform, since it is the exact opposite of democratic principle as a philosophy. Democracy implies inclusion, and a loyal opposition, if we adopt the modern democratic precept that is based upon pluralism and the universal rights of all people.

Both the panelists and their guest from Freedom House completely ignored the fact that the preponderance of human rights abuses against Muslim women in the Muslim world has taken place under secular and not Islamic government rule. It was colonialist laws, and secular western and also pre-Islamic Arabic culture that combined to create a cocktail of oppression and repression in the Arab Muslim world, that restricted and denied certain rights to women. There are Islamist who have adopted some of the traditional approaches to women in society, but their positions are mostly based upon their cultural habits, and not the Quran or examples of the prophet Muhammad, and as the realize that, they have adjusted their views to conform with Islam.

The conference panelists completely ignored the human rights record of the status quo, in their response on Islamist and women’s and human rights. They completely ignored Egypt’s history of torture, arbitrary arrest etc., and also its history of human rights and also civil rights abuses against religious people, and women. They ignored the laws of Islam that empowered Muslim women long before there was anything akin to women’s rights in the West, since they refuse to accept the truth that Islam has meritorious qualities that can benefit Muslim societies, and peoples. Secularists persist in the demonization of Islam in the Muslim world, in the same way that they condemn religion in the West. The bottom line is that secularists do not want to share power with religious people, and they will use any ruse to support their refusal to play by their own rules of liberalism and democratization.

Terri Schiavo, an American woman, is being denied food and water so she can die, because her husband says she would rather die than be fed through a tube. Where are this woman’s rights? We have to wonder if US courts haven’t digressed. Do women belong to men? Her parents say it is untrue that Terri wants to die. They argue that Terri is a Catholic, and would have never asked for an assisted suicide, rather than to remain alive and on a feeding tube. The most interesting aspect of the legal discussions regarding the case is that Terri Schiavo is not terminally ill. She is simply severely disabled, which makes you wonder how her case came under the purview of a "right to die" statute in a state court, or any court for that matter. How can courts order that a healthy, yet disabled person be put to death? Well, it seems that in the United States, it only takes a husband to say she should die, and the courts will make it happen.

It would have been wonderful if there had been a few, or even just one Muslim woman present at that conference to speak out when Islamist were accused of not caring for women’s rights. She might have suggested to our friend from Freedom House, and also the male Muslim panelist in attendance, that Muslim women have a better chance under an Islamic government, when it comes to rights to life, than any woman has under a secular government. In Islam, women don’t belong to their husbands, and the Quran says that blood relations have greater rights, than friends and family not bound by blood. That means that in an Islamic society, Terri Schiavo’s mother and father, and not her husband would have the last word about Terri’s care, not a court, and not her husband.

Today it was reported that nearly seven percent of one Muslim nation in north Africa is disabled people. Who took the census and why? If we were to take a census of the disabled in other Muslim countries we would find that perhaps as much as 10% of some of these populations are considered disabled, especially in those countries devastated by wars, and poverty, and malnutrition and birth defects. Imagine if the governments in those countries decided that all of these people should be denied food and water because their care is too expensive, or because they can no longer contribute to society? Imagine that such people would be targeted for extinction, and so they would be stressed by displacement, and social adjustment, eliminated through raids and massacres, denied adequate health care, etc. Imagine if the World Bank and/ or any other international lending or monetary fund would refuse to fund development projects in nations that cannot provide a certain percentage of their population as laborers. People, or rather human resources are part of a nation’s wealth. Will we cull the disabled, the poor, and the elderly and abort the unborn in Muslim countries? Probably not, if there are Islamist in power, probably so if the status quo remains in power. The same is true in the US. That might be why religious voices in the US are also being called "extreme" and "fanatical" etc. and every effort is being made by secularists to prevent religious people from being heard, and participating as religious people, in the political process in the United States.

Just as we want to effect Islamist behavior, using carrot and stick tactics, the secular status quo throughout the world should be held accountable for its deplorable human, and women’s rights record. We should not forget the billions of deaths of the innocent, the weak, elderly, women and the disabled caused by secular nationalist governments over the years, as they sought to cleanse their societies of so-called undesirables. The greater part of the 20th century was scarred by the attempts of nationalist governments, East and West, to cleanse their societies of certain people, since they were, and are to date, strong believers in Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory. That theory is still alive and advocated at the UN, and also in the United States, and Europe, under the guise of population control. Should we not include Darwinism, Eugenics, and also women’s and family rights, and also parental rights in these discussions of human rights? If we do, there will perhaps be fewer conferences that seek to highlight the imperfections of Islamist. Perhaps more conferences should be convened to figure out how we will save the 21st century from the tragedies of the prior century, carried out under the banner of secular liberalism, and in many times, also by states that claimed to be democracies.