I think if the Sudanese government had more wealth, they could give Saudi Arabia a run for its money as the craziest Islamic country. Still, they're doing a pretty good job with the resources they have.
The topic is trousers, again. This time, trousers on women:
"A Sudanese judge convicted a woman journalist for violating the public indecency law by wearing trousers outdoors and fined her $200, but did not impose a feared flogging penalty.Trousers seem to be 'un-Islamic' in parts - although not all - of the world where Muslims are a majority. Almost two years about, this hit the news:
"Lubna Hussein was among 13 women arrested July 3 in a raid by the public order police on a popular cafe in Khartoum. Ten of the women were fined and flogged two days later. But Hussein and two others decided to go to trial.
"Hussein told the Associated Press Friday that she would not pay any penalty and would serve a month in jail instead as a matter of principle...."
"Three suspected al Qaeda militants, including two sisters, beheaded their uncle and his wife, forcing the couple's children to watch, Iraqi police said on Friday.
"The militants considered that school guard Youssef al-Hayali was an infidel because he did not pray and wore western-style trousers, they told police interrogators after being arrested in Diyala province northwest of Baghdad...."
Religious Beliefs, Cultures Mores, Personal Preferences: There's a DifferenceI think I can understand the horror of trousers a bit better than some Americans, particularly younger ones.
Women, Trousers, Culture and Common Sense - a DigressionRoughly forty years ago, women in America started wearing trousers or pants - occasionally. The custom wasn't all that new: but it hadn't been adopted so widely before. Quite a few people who were Christians, but whose beliefs were a mix of cultural traditions and what they felt about some passages from the Bible, were aghast.
According to them, women wearing trousers or pants was un-Biblical! They had a point, sort of. It's that Deuteronomy 22:5 thing - "A woman shall not wear an article proper to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's dress; for anyone who does such things is an abomination to the LORD, your God."
No woman in my experience was fined, flogged, or jailed for wearing trousers. On the other hand, I did run into folks who, judging by what they said and how they said it, would have been happy to do so. What was funny, in a grim sort of way, was that these folks lived in the Red River Valley of the North: where wearing pants is one of the few ways of not freezing your legs in the winter.
Quite a few of the folks who really believed that God supported American cultural norms of the 1940s were people I could get along with. They meant will, but hadn't learned to distinguish between the Word of God, cultural mores they'd grown up with, and the personal preferences of their pastor's clique. Then there are outfits like the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas (October 31, 2007) and Tony Alamo's group (A Catholic Citizen in American (October 2, 2008)).
Those 'skirts for God' people were responsible, indirectly and in part, for my eventually becoming a Catholic. Which is another topic, for another blog.
From Abraham to Janet Jackson in One Generation: Cultural Values, Principles, and ConfusionAs a sort of segue back to this post's main topic: According to the Catholic Church, "The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another...." (Catechism (2524). I think that a confusion over what are cultural values and what are religious beliefs is behind quite a lot of the war on terror.
As I've said before, I have some sympathy for people in places like the Middle East and Sudan. Their ancestors had lived in a reasonably stable culture - one which had scarcely changed since the time of Abraham. Then a late-industrial-age global culture dropped on them, closely followed by the early information age, with its hundreds of cable channels, beer commercials, Gap jeans and freedom of expression.
It's no wonder some of them are a little crazy.
Not that I'm making excuses for what's happening in Sudan and elsewhere. It's been a long time since Ur and Lagash, Nubia and the Old Kingdom were major powers. Recognizing the importance of the past is one thing. Trying to live in it is another.
- "Modesty: Living in Balance"
A Catholic Citizen in America (August 16, 2009)
- "The Pope, the Antichrist, and Fu Manchu"
A Catholic Citizen in America (October 2, 2008)
- "British Teacher Home from Sudan: Gillian Gibbons, Muslim Clerics, and a Teddy Bear named Mohammed"
(December 3, 2007)
- "Fanatics: Not an Islamic Monopoly"
(November 23, 2007)
- "Tolerance Only Goes So Far"
(October 31, 2007)
- "Woman’s trial for wearing tight pants in Sudan begins"
CNN (September 7, 2009)
- "Trouser-wearing women fined $200 in Sudan"
The Associated Press (September 7, 2009)
- "Iraqi school guard, wife beheaded as children watch"
Reuters (November 23, 2007 )
- "Darfuri women live 'nightmare,' Harvard-backed study says"
CNN (May 31, 2009)
- "Catechism of the Catholic Church (2524)
- Deuteronomy 22:5
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred