Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What Not To Wear

This, for starters, is revolting. Women in Sudan being given lashes (not the mascara kind) for wearing trousers in public. Now the issue is that the lashes were given under Sharia law which is only supposed to apply to Muslims - the women were mostly Christian or animist.

Of course the notion that non-followers of a religion should adhere to it's laws is stupid - but still one I hear a great deal in the UK on issues like abortion and gay marriage. But more importantly:

1) Who exactly gets to decide whether a woman in Muslim or not? Is she herself genuinely entitled to a free choice on the matter? I strongly doubt it.

2) Where is the righteousness in following the laws of your religion out of fear of being flogged rather than out of personal piety?

3) Assuming the Muslim community wishes others to follow Islam - how exactly do they think this is going to attract new converts?

13 comments:

btscl said...

Actually Sharia Law is the official law of Sudan and as such applies to all: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sudan

It would be nice if people research before spouting spurious information.

Cruella said...

I'm sorry - did you just tell me to "do research" and then point me to a wikipedia page? Sorry I would respond but I am laughing too much.

btscl said...

Just because Wikipedia is publicly editable does not necessarily mean that the information is incorrect. Taken from the Sudanese constitution:

"Supremacy and Sovereignty
God, the creator of all people, is supreme over the State and sovereignty is delegated to the people of Sudan by succession, to be practiced as worship to God, performing his trust, developing the homeland, and spreading justice, freedom and shura in accordance with the Constitution and laws."

You can see what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has to say on the matter here:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/sub-saharan-africa/sudan1?ta=lawsCustoms&pg=3

"Under the terms of the Sudanese constitution, until the referendum on secession of Southern Sudan takes place, Sharia law will apply in the states of Northern Sudan, but not Southern Sudan. Although the constitution specifies that in the national capital, Khartoum, non-Muslims shall not be subject to Sharia law, at present this has not resulted in any practical changes and you should expect Sharia law to apply.

Non-Muslim women are not expected to wear a veil or cover their heads, but you should dress modestly and respect local customs and sensitivities."

So in short you should expect Sharia Law to apply and you should do as the Sudanese (or rather Northern Sudanese) do when you are there.

I would be most interested in your reply if you have managed to stop yourself from laughing.

Cruella said...

Yes of course Wikipedia COULD be right. I'm not even saying it's not a useful source of info. I'm saying that to describe reading the wikipedia entry as "doing research" is pretty weak.

But ho hum what I think is that as I stated earlier and as was stated on the BBC and as you yourself have said "the constitution specifies that in the national capital, Khartoum, non-Muslims shall not be subject to Sharia law". The foreign office advice of course advises not merely obeying the law but staying well inside it to minimise the risk of trouble.

And your point is what? That women should not merely follow the law but should in fact follow laws that don't even apply to them just to be on the safe side? And if they don't it's appropriate that they should be given lashes? That trousers on women ARE "immodest dress"? That the law and the punishment and the whole notion of forcing people by law to follow religious teachings is somehow a good idea? There's no real purpose to arguing if you don't have a valid point at all. Unless of course you're just trolling...

btscl said...

As with any system of law, Sudanese law is open to interpretation. The actual constitution does not explicitly state that Sharia law does not apply in the capital it actually reads:

"... ensure that Non-Muslims are not adversely affected
by the application of the Sharia law in the National
Capital."

which is precisely why the FCO has stated that no practical changes have taken place.

The constitution also states:

"the judicial discretion of courts to impose penalties on non-
Muslims shall observe the long-established Sharia principle
that non-Muslims are not subject to prescribed penalties and
therefore remitted penalties shall apply according to law"

Which is why the women received only ten lashes and not the forty set out by law. It is my opinion that the law was applied correctly.

The point I'm making is that you should obey the laws and customs of the land that you are in and accept the punishment if you stray from the letter of the law.

It's not for either one of us to decide what punishments are acceptable for people of other cultures in other countries; it is not for you to decide what other people see as indecent.
They are not forcing people to follow religious teachings at all, that statement is just plain wrong. Are we forcing people to follow religious teachings just because a lot of our laws have roots in Christianity?

Cruella said...

So you think ten lashes is not an "adverse effect" of Sharia Law on a non-muslim. You are wrong.

And of course they are forcing people to follow religious teachings - that's exactly what Sharia law is ABOUT. And my belief - and guess what - yes I am entitled to have and express an opinion - is that is should be the choice of the individual to follow religious teaching or not.

btscl said...

It is not for you nor me to decide what constitutes an 'adverse effect' it is solely the responsibility of those people entrusted with upholding the law.

"And of course they are forcing people to follow religious teachings - that's exactly what Sharia law is ABOUT. And my belief - and guess what - yes I am entitled to have and express an opinion - is that is should be the choice of the individual to follow religious teaching or not."

It's not as black and white as you try to make out. Sharia Law forbids alcohol, Sharia Law is the legal system of Sudan; if one is unable to drink whilst in Sudan does that mean that one is being forced to follow religious teachings or that one is forced to follow the rules of the land. I believe the latter.
Is somebody who is jailed in England for marrying two or more people being forced to follow the religious teachings of Christianity?

Your last statement amuses me a great deal. Yes you are entitled to have an opinion but it seems as though you are trying to tell other people of what they should be offended. If other cultures find trousers on women indecent who are you to tell them that they shouldn't be offended?

Cruella said...

Oh no - wrong again - I'm entitled to my opinion about the law and the way it's interpreted in Sudan, and indeed people out there are entitled if they so wish to think and express their view, should they hold it, that British polygamy laws are stupid and unreasonable.

btscl said...

Yes you are entitled to your opinion but the only opinion that matters is the one of the people who make the laws.

"and indeed people out there are entitled if they so wish to think and express their view, should they hold it, that British polygamy laws"

You just don't get it do you? We weren't trying to establish whether or not the polygomy law was reasonable or not; I was using an analogy to show you that you are not forced to follow the teachings of a religion if you reside in a country which bases its laws on said religion.

I don't know why I bother trying to educate some people.

btscl said...

Just to clarify:

"Yes you are entitled to your opinion but the only opinion that matters is the one of the people who make the laws."

You may think it unreasonable that you end up in court after driving at forty miles per hour in a residential area, you are even free to voice your opinion but the only opnion that matters if of the people that set the limit in the first place. Same principle here.

Cruella said...

No, once again...

I am entitled to think, and express my view that (a) that the law in another country is wrong, cruel and unreasonable and (b) that the way the law is applied in another country is wrong, cruel and unreasonable.

btscl said...

At what point did I say that you weren't entitled to have or express your opinion?

Cruella said...

Erm here:

"It's not for either one of us to decide what punishments are acceptable for people of other cultures in other countries; it is not for you to decide what other people see as indecent."