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Education, women rights and Mali
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-08-31 08:10:53
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The law says that women don’t have to obey their husbands in everything they say or decide. Both have equal rights in family issues and they are both obliged and responsible for the security and well-being of the family. This is it, and it is as simple as it sounds. Well, at least for Europe and America, but obviously not for Mali!

I know that in the next few lines I’m going to be on dangerous grounds, but the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure, has returned the newly approved family law – giving greater rights to women – to the parliament, asking it to change the law in the name of national unity!

Apparently, the Muslim leaders of the country consider the new family law to be the work of the Devil! Let me see, somebody half human… half goat…. gigantic in size with horns… tail and sparkling red eyes… went to Mali; first he wrote a series of laws and then led the hands of the MPs to vote for them!

I presume in Mali pigs fly and the earth is flat!

So how do things work? Is it going to be a Muslim world left in the dark ages, and the rest of the world trying to find a way to a better future? These dark ages of the Muslim world - in the name of Mohamed - seem to get darker by the day, as well as paranoid and psychotic.

To make something clear before any misunderstandings start: all these characterizations are not from the Koran or the prophet Mohamed, but from the people who obviously paraphrase the holy book.

Religions and religion followers have a habit to paraphrase holy books, and this has happened in every religion without exception. Actually, that’s why there are so many dogmas and heresies. A few years ago, I was browsing a bible myself with the English translation next to the Greek original text. I’m far from an expert, but it made me smile - the small differences I saw in the translation made me think of how critical these differences could become, especially subjected to a deep theological meaning. If you add to that the wild guessing of what God or Allah really wanted to say… you end up in a chaotic situation, representing only the taboos of the reader.

This is where women’s circumcision becomes a holy act; this is where the burqa becomes a holy cloth; and this is where women become slaves. Apparently this is also where the holy wars start and terrorism takes over.

Of course it wasn’t women’s circumcision that led Bin Laden to do what he did, but isn’t that a sign of a troubled society? When a society believes that the devil influences laws and that women’s equality is a sign of Satan?

The sad thing is that the motivation behind Mali’s president Amadou Toumani Toure’s decision to reject the laws by returning them to the parliament is anything but religion. It was purely a political decision. In a country where 90% of the population is Muslim, votes count, and the president obviously cares for the votes. Mali’s president has the authority, the power and the means to explain to the people that the new family laws have nothing to do with religion and there is nothing mentioned of this in the Koran.

Of course tens of thousands of people demonstrating can make any government scared, but correct information can help people understand. Furthermore, education can help, so Mali’s real problem is a nation that is not educated.

Continuing to walk on dangerous ground, I think this is a general problem in Islamic countries. Going on a step further, I think this works for the local politicians, irresponsible clerics and ambitious preachers who like to have uneducated nations. They are easier controlled.

"After extensive consultations with the various state institutions, with civil society, with the religious community and the legal profession, I have taken this decision to send the family code for a second reading to ensure calm and a peaceful society, and to obtain the support and understanding of our fellow citizens."

These were the exact words in the televised announcement from the president. It was an announcement that made the head of Mali's High Islamic Council celebrate and women’s groups cry for international help.

What is left …is to pray to Allah to enlighten them!


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Emanuel Paparella2009-08-31 13:06:08
“Furthermore, education can help, so Mali’s real problem is a nation that is not educated….What is left …is to pray to Allah to enlighten them!”

“Knowledge is virtue” proclaimed Socrates and to a certain extent that remains a true statement even today leading to self-knowledge both individual and collectively; albeit Paul had a slightly different view when he pointed out that often he knew the good but ended up doing evil. That view needs to be pondered and considered too.

But there is another side to the issue above adumbrated and it is this: it is the issue of the “enlightened” Western intelligentsia which sincerely but misguidedly believes, since the era of Voltaire, the so called age of reason, that all social problems can and in fact must be quickly solved by quickly and once and for all eliminating the poison of religion, or at the very least relegate religion to one hour a week in a place of worship while muzzling its voice in the public square. The advocates of this view are convinced that then obscurantism would be defeated and we would all be enlightened and educated and we could then busy ourselves with more useful enterprises such as creating “heaven on earth” or utopia or “the workers’ paradise.” The fruits of the atheistic religion-less states of the 20th century prove otherwise, I am afraid. So what is left…is to pray to God that the Enlightenment enlighten itself and reconsider its “enlightened” position!

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