The latest from Cairo and the Middle East about violent jihad proves that women around the world have to fight for equality — even the right to be as looney as the men. Women now demand that al-Qaeda change their “hiring” policies to allow for female jihadists. AQ #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri has thus far stuck to his guns publicly, telling Muslim women to have babies and shut the heck up, but the network’s use of women for recent suicide attacks belies his inclusive heart:

Muslim extremist women are challenging al Qaeda’s refusal to include — or at least acknowledge — women in its ranks, in an emotional debate that gives rare insight into the gender conflicts lurking beneath one of the strictest strains of Islam.

In response to a female questioner, al Qaeda No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said in April that the terrorist group does not have women. A woman’s role, he said on the Internet audio recording, is limited to caring for the homes and children of al Qaeda fighters.

His remarks have since prompted an outcry from fundamentalist women, who are fighting or pleading for the right to be terrorists. The statements have also created some confusion, because in fact suicide bombings by women seem to be on the rise, at least within the Iraq branch of al Qaeda.

There is more than one strain of the absurd in all of this. Women now argue for the right to be used like Kleenex for widespread murder, which hardly sounds very liberating In contrast, barefoot and pregnant sounds downright enlightened. And if these women want liberation, they are unlikely to find it in one of the most misogynistic versions of Islam in the world, a religion not known worldwide for its celebration of equality among the sexes in any form.

Even Zawahiri’s response to the questions shows how culturally disjointed this demand is:

“I say to you … (I have) tasted the bitterness of American brutality: my favorite wife’s chest was crushed by a concrete ceiling,” he wrote in a 2005 letter.

I wonder how long the rest of his wives had to hear about the tragedy of losing his favorite wife in an attack brought on by his group’s terrorist attack against the US on 9/11.

If Arab women want liberation, they are unlikely to find it in the radical Islamist movement. Volunteering for suicide missions will only have the effect of strengthening their oppression, not of liberating them in any sense except escaping it through death. Maybe they see that as their only option.