Another unasked question about Muslim democratization
President Bush insists on democracy and freedom for the whole Muslim world. Central to Bush’s idea of democracy—indeed, one of his “non-negotiable” requirements—is equality of women and respect for women. At the same time, Bush says he respects Muslims’ cultures and traditions. But women’s inequality, particularly as seen in the custom of polygamy, is deeply rooted in both Islamic law and Islamic culture. How can women be considered even remotely equal to men as human beings under any system that involves polygamy? And therefore how can Islam ever be compatible with the democracy Bush seeks? To my knowledge, no one has ever asked this painfully obvious question.
Forget about Bush’s supporters in the conservative movement asking it, let alone anyone in the administration. They’re still on a high produced by their own sense of expanding global power, unreal and transient though it may be. As a female correspondent said to me today, “There goes Condoleezza Rice with her short skirts and her arrogant supercilious manner talking about how great everything is in Iraq, while Iraq is putting women under sharia law and polygamy.”