Reminds me of that story in 2006 about Iran supposedly requiring its Jewish citizens to wear yellow badges: Hard to believe, yet not nearly as hard to believe as it should be. In fact, blogs across the political spectrum have bit on this item today, suggesting that when it comes to claims involving Islamists behaving like rank degenerates, even the left can’t muster much skepticism anymore.
One question, though. Am I right in thinking that this whole thing is being pushed by a single source? Read the Al-Arabiya piece for yourself and see:
Egypt’s National Council for Women (NCW) has appealed to the Islamist-dominated parliament not to approve two controversial laws on the minimum age of marriage and allowing a husband to have sex with his dead wife within six hours of her death according to a report in an Egyptian newspaper.
The appeal came in a message sent by Dr. Mervat al-Talawi, head of the NCW, to the Egyptian People’s Assembly Speaker, Dr. Saad al-Katatni, addressing the woes of Egyptian women, especially after the popular uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011…
According to Egyptian columnist Amro Abdul Samea in al-Ahram, Talawi’s message included an appeal to parliament to avoid the controversial legislations that rid women of their rights of getting education and employment, under alleged religious interpretations.
“Talawi tried to underline in her message that marginalizing and undermining the status of women in future development plans would undoubtedly negatively affect the country’s human development, simply because women represent half the population,” Abdul Samea said in his article.
A cleric in Morocco did indeed approve the practice of, er, “farewell intercourse” within the past few years, but unless I’m missing something in the Al-Arabiya story, the evidence that the bill exists — and that the NCW has complained about it to the speaker — is purely Samea’s say-so. Half a dozen other articles I read today about this all point back to the Al-Arabiya article; as far as I can tell, no one named in the story has spoken to any media about it or otherwise confirmed that what Samea claims is true. And who’s Samea? According to the CSM, that’s curious too:
Today, Egypt’s state-owned Al Ahram newspaper published an opinion piece by Amr Abdul Samea, a past stalwart supporter of the deposed Hosni Mubarak, that contained a bombshell: Egypt’s parliament is considering passing a law that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives after death…
There’s of course one problem: The chances of any such piece of legislation being considered by the Egyptian parliament for a vote is zero. And the chance of it ever passing is less than that. In fact, color me highly skeptical that anyone is even trying to advance a piece of legislation like this through Egypt’s parliament. I’m willing to be proven wrong. It’s possible that there’s one or two lawmakers completely out of step with the rest of parliament. Maybe.
But extreme, not to mention inflammatory claims, need at minimum some evidence (and I’ve read my share of utter nonsense in Al Ahram over the years). The evidence right now? Zero.
Al-Ahram is controlled by the Egyptian government, which I assume means it’s heavily influenced by the ruling military junta. And the junta, of course, is invested in discrediting the Islamists in order to defend its prerogatives against parliament’s growing power. (It’s worth noting too that Al-Arabiya, which picked up the story from Al-Ahram, is a Saudi outfit and the Saudis are mighty anxious about the idea of Islamist populists seizing power from sclerotic tyrannical regimes.) Again, none of this is to say the story isn’t true — the part about the marriage age being lowered is all too plausible — but it’s not hard to see why Mubarak allies might want to make something up or inflate something one of the fringier parliamentarians said in order to galvanize international opinion against the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists. It is, however, hard to see why the MB would allow parliament to entertain a law like this at a moment when they’re busy gladhanding westerners to reassure them that the Brotherhood are “modern” Islamists who are worthy of foreign aid and trade deals. If this really is being kicked around by MPs, I’d bet it’s the Salafists who are pushing it. But we’ll see.
Anyone seen any news items today confirming this with sources besides Samea? If so, shoot us an e-mail at the tips line and I’ll update.