Over the weekend, Hamas policemen in Gaza attempted to arrest a Palestinian female journalist, Asma al-Ghul. Her crime? She came to a Gaza beach dressed “immodestly” (not wearing hijab) and was caught laughing in front of others. The police ended up confiscating her passport and she has been living in fear inside her home ever since. The death threats she has been receiving from anonymous callers hasn’t helped much either.
The totalitarianism within Islam in terms of the forced veiling of women is a well-known phenomenon to us in the West. Less known is the terrifying fear within Islam of a woman’s laugh. Female laughter poses such a threat to the despotic misogynist order on which Islam is based that it has to be ruthlessly punished and repressed.
This pathology is very much interconnected with Islam’s rejection of earthly happiness.
Ayatollah Khomeini, for instance, followed this theology obediently and expressed its nature perfectly by rejecting, with furious revulsion, anything that could possibly cause earthly cheer or happiness (i.e. music). He explained:
Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.
Thus, laughter is especially discouraged on many realms within Islam and it is, not surprisingly, specifically forbidden for women, and especially young girls. Nawal El Saadaw remembers that, growing up in Egypt,
If I laughed, I was expected to keep my voice so low that people could hardly hear me, or better, confine myself to smiling timidly.
When Souad, the Palestinian survivor of an attempted honor killing, was flown to Switzerland, she was shocked to find females dressing as they wished, smiling and laughing without being punished, and having people actually say “Thank you” to her -- which had not happened once her entire life.
The late American journalist Steven Vincent, a warrior for the rights of women under Islam, made a careful study of these phenomena during trips he made, at great peril to himself, to Iraq (he was eventually murdered by jihadis there). In his Iraq memoir, he noted that, at one point, he was sitting by the swimming pool at the Al-Hamra Hotel in Baghdad, where Western journalists stay. He heard two American women laughing, and a “chill” shot right through him. Their laughter made him realize that he had not heard a woman laugh in Iraq, “not in a free and unguarded manner, at any rate.” That laughter, he says, was music to his ears, and at that moment, he reflects, “I became a feminist.”
In an interview I conducted with Vincent, I asked him for his thoughts on Islam’s hatred of women’s laughter. He replied:
Remember Umberto Eco’s "The Name of the Rose?" The murders of the monks in the English monastery were part of an attempt by religious despots to conceal the existence of Aristotle’s lost treatise on Comedy. They knew that laughter is uncontrollable, subversive—especially to the clerical mindset. This is especially true in Islam—which demonstrates no sense of humor whatsoever. Combine the seditious nature of laughter with the equally dangerous—to the patriarchal tyrant—power of femininity and you have a force that can sweep away the kings of the earth.
I have this fantasy that fills me with particular joy. I think of some cranky bearded cleric—say, Moqtada al-Sadr—spouting the usual anti-American, anti-Semitic bilge when suddenly the women in his mosque—laugh. Imagine that moment! All that Islamofascist hatred and resentment and grandiosity washed away in a torrent of feminine amusement and ridicule. How could the cleric’s hold over the imaginations, spirits and desires of his flock withstand the charisma of feminine laughter? Add in the even more volatile force of sexual freedom and you would reduce 90 percent of Islam’s ulema [legal scholars] to pathetic old men in back-street mosques, preaching their misogynistic claptrap to ever-dwindling congregations. And no better fate could befall them.
Vincent’s shrewd and profound analysis crystallizes perfectly why female laughter poses such a threat to Islam.
And so who will be coming to the help of Asma al-Ghul? Will it be leftist feminists -- who are supposedly for women’s rights? They are, so far, deafeningly silent – as they always are when it comes to women suffering under Islamic gender apartheid. Will there be moral indignation expressed about Asma’s persecution in the pages of The Nation? Don’t hold your breath, because The Nation is too busy giving a platform to its columnists like Naomi Klein, a leftist feminist who has reached her hand out in solidarity to Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army in Iraq. Several years ago, she called out to “Bring Najaf to New York.” In her account of the fighting in the Iraqi Shi’ite stronghold of Najaf, she urged leftists to join in solidarity with the Islamofascist terrorists headed by al-Sadr.
Question #1: What has been the fate of women under the power of Muqtada al-Sadr?
Question #2: What would be the fate of Naomi Klein upon contact with al-Sadr and his army?
This is the world of the feminist Left. It’s a world in which feminists such as Dr. Unni Wikan, a professor of social anthropology at the University of Oslo, offer solutions for the gang rape of women by Muslims by instructing the women to smarten up. Confronted by the high incidence of Muslims raping Norwegian women, Wikan stresses neither punishment of the perpetrators nor repudiation of the Islamic theology that legitimizes such violence against women if they are not veiled. Rather, Wikan recommends that Norwegian women should veil themselves. Wikan writes, “Norwegian women must understand that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it.”
I would like to pose a question to the leftist feminists of the world:
Have you no sense of decency, at long last?