Women Under Islam

Daphne Patai, City Journal, December 1, 2017

Islamic Gender Apartheid: Exposing a Veiled War Against Women, by Phyllis Chesler (New English Review Press, 462 pp., $29.99)

Phyllis Chesler’s crucial early encounter with the reality of Muslim social norms began in 1961, when, at the age of 20, she married an Afghan student she met while attending Bard College. Totally unprepared for what was to follow, she accompanied him to his family home in Kabul. {snip}

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She is particularly incensed that the same people who describe Israel, falsely, as an “apartheid state” routinely disregard the indisputable gender apartheid existing in much of the Arab and Muslim world. The result is that the seclusion of women, face and full-body veiling (Chesler describes the burqa as a “sensory deprivation chamber”), female genital mutilation, so-called honor killings, polygamy, rape, and other forms of violence against women (as well as against gays, apostates, dissenters, and religious minorities) are all excused—or simply denied—by Western liberal apologists for Islamism.

Chesler has no patience for the refusal of feminists and other left-liberals to criticize women’s subjection under Islam (which, she reminds us, means “submission”), a reality she discusses in great detail, citing case after case, changes in law and custom, Western capitulation to Islamist complaints and demands, international pronouncements, and political developments. She exposes and protests the barrage of distortions disseminated by academics, the elite media, certain feminist groups, paid propagandists, true believers, and others.

{snip} Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama led the way in refusing to identify notorious terrorist acts as the work of Muslims operating in the name of Islam.

Not that this is a peculiarly American problem. Chesler writes of escalating crime rates in European countries with large Muslim immigrant populations, a fact suppressed, often with the collusion of local police and government officials. {snip}

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Chesler insists on an absolute commitment to universal human rights, without culturally relativist excuses. “No one seems to understand,” she wrote in 2015, “the slightest thing about Muslim history in terms of its anti-black racism, conversion via the sword, hatred and persecution of the kuffar (infidel), its gender and religious apartheid, and its very long record of colonialism, imperialism, and genocide…. Anyone who notes the surreal nature of Islamic barbarism operating today is also viewed suspiciously and nervously.” Chesler’s unswerving allegiance to exposing the world’s real war on women has cost her friends in high places, but her experience and knowledge of the life of women under Islam make her an invaluable resource for anyone eager to look past the distortions and misrepresentations we routinely hear about the Muslim world.

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