Dutch filmmaker Theodore Van Gogh was murdered for his short film Submission (which iFilm has put online for public viewing) on the domination and systematic brutalization of Muslim women. Theodore Dalrymple believes that Van Gogh’s lifting of this veil was why he was killed:
But why kill Theo Van Gogh, of all the people who have expressed hostility to radical Islam? Perhaps it was mere chance, but more likely it resulted from his workâ€™s exposure of a very raw nerve of Muslim identity in Western Europe: the abuse of women. This abuse is now essential for people of Muslim descent for maintaining any sense of separate cultural identity in the homogenizing solution of modern mass society.
In fact, Islam is as vulnerable in Europe to the forces of secularization as Christianity has proved to be. The majority of Muslims in Europe, particularly the young, have a weak and tenuous connection to their ancestral religion. Their level and intensity of belief is low; pop music interests them more. Far from being fanatics, they are lukewarm believers at best. Were it not for the abuse of women, Islam would go the way of the Church of England.
The abuse of women has often, if not always, appealed to men, because it gives them a sense of power, however humiliated they may feel in other spheres of their life. And the oppression of women by Muslim men in Western Europe gives those men at the same time a sexual partner, a domestic servant, and a gratifying sense of power, while allowing them also to live an otherwise westernized life. For the men, it is convenient; interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, almost the only openly hostile expressions toward Islam from British-born Muslims that I hear come from young women, some of whom loathe it passionately because they blame it for their servitude.
One of the hallmarks of fundamentalist Islam is the deep-seated misogyny that is enshrined in shari’a. Women are second-class citizens, only able to receive half of the inheritance that a man gets, forced to cover themselves head-to-toe in burkhas or abayas, forbidden to drive in many Middle Eastern countries, and generally treated like chattel by male relatives. The horror stories about Saudi Arabian wives has become all too common in the West, although the State Department still refuses to help – something that goes against the principles this country was founded upon. Even in “moderate” regimes like Jordan or Egypt, women are routinely beaten by male relatives while the police and courts do little or nothing.
One of the major reasons why the Middle East remains mired in a state of deep economic and cultural malaise is that 50% of their population are in chains, sometimes literally. A society in which women are kept in a state of slavery cannot reconcile itself with the modern world, nor can it expect to compete with the rest of the world. The systematic subjugation of women in places like Saudi Arabia are a way of breeding the malicious cruelty and tyranny that marks nearly every aspect of life in that country.
Theo Van Gogh bravely chose to expose this cruelty, and he paid for it with his life. However, the cause for which he fought should continue. The free world has a commitment to human rights – and that includes the lives of millions of Arab and Muslim women living in societies that value them only as property.
UPDATE: Roger L. Simon has more.