The latest on the Shia Family Law fiasco

On April 5th, the Washington Post reported that Karzai ordered the law reviewed by the Ministry of Justice:

I ordered the justice minister to review the law, and if there is anything that would contravene the country’s constitution or Shariah law or the freedom our constitution gives to Afghan women, without any doubt there will be changes in it, and again it will be sent to the parliament of Afghanistan.

According to the Post article, Karzai also claims that the press has mistranslated the law.

***

In any case, Afghan civil society activists and liberal members of the National Assembly have already begun campaigning for a comprehensive and rights-affirming review. On the Canadian radio news program “As It Happens,” MP Sabrina Saqib said that the law has sparked an intense national discussion on women’s rights and has already been the subject of numerous radio and television debates.

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Registan‘s Joshua Faust makes some good points, but his commenters are better.

Commenter “Monk” says:

It is a shame that religious and racist extremists like [mohammad Asif] Mohsini have become power brokers while the Hazaras, despite their never ending persecution by Islamic and ethnocentrist extremists; are being increasingly marginalized. Let’s not even start discussing how the dedication of all aid and reconstruction funds to Taliban hit south and warlord hit north have let down the Hazaras right from the start of “democracy in Afghanistan”.

This law is yet another attempt to undermine the progress Hazaras have made during the last eight years. The facts speak for themselves. Hazara women still refuse to wear full hijab, they have had active participation in programs like Afghan Star. They hold posts such as Afghanistan’s only female governor, only female mayor, head of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission and more in NGO’s and offices across the country. Hazarajat has the most promising female to male ratio in school and university enrollment.

These are facts, unmatched in any of the areas Mohsini or Karzai could ever actually represent. The rest is pure bullshit.

Meanwhile, not just the Western press continues to churn out ever more ridiculous and shallow stories on tHoSe cRaZy ShIa! 

Take, for example, this article from Al Jazeera, which is so absurdly one-sided it merits a mention just as an example of awful journalism on Afghanistan. The reporter apparently thinks he can gauge the opinion of the entire Shia community by going to ONE MOSQUE in Kabul during a speech by Mohseni in support of the law. The best (read: worst) part comes in the related video, wherein Mohseni unfurls a “scroll” with…stuff on it. We’re told it’s covered in the signatures and thumbprints of “hundreds” of Shia women who support the law. No opponents of the law are interviewed and the video ends on a shoulder-shrugging “guess that’s just their culture!” note.

FAIL.

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In a  better Washington Post article, Pamela Constable writes:

In the flurry of debate, some Afghan men have expressed concern that women might be tempted to have affairs if they are allowed out in public or have expressed outrage at what they see as foreign interference in their religious beliefs. But some women, especially those from an emerging, better-educated generation, have seized the opportunity to express their views on the need for more women’s rights within Islam.

One is Habiba Saddiqi, 23, an engineering student who has collaborated closely with UNIFEM, the U.N. women’s organization that has a large program in Kabul and was among the first groups to raise alarms about the Shiite law. Saddiqi, who is Shiite, said she and her friends had collected thousands of signatures in the past week, calling for a more moderate version of the law.

Huh. Thousands of signatures, you say? Would have been nice of Al Jazeera to interview Saddiqi.

“We need such a law, but it should be a democratic one,” she said. “This law is made by men for their benefit. If a father can order a daughter to marry whomever he likes, it means she has no rights. That is not good for women, and it is not good for society.”

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