I normally don’t go for activists who interrupt other people’s events – Black Lives Matter disrupting Bernie Sanders’ speech, or Jorge Ramos doing the same at Donald Trump’s press conference – but I’ll make an exception for the Femen activists who stormed the stage, topless, at a Muslim conference near Paris.
Because it once again exposed the weirdness of people being more outraged by nudity than by violence.
The story goes that the speakers – Mehdi Kabir and Nader Abu Anas – were at the “Muslim salon” discussing the value of women in Islam, and that the protesters interrupted them as they argued whether Islam permits husbands to beat their wives. This version of events is challenged by video that allegedly has the speakers declaring that men should follow the example of Muhammad in not striking their wives.
But the Femen protesters (WARNING: this link here is not safe for work) insist that Kabir and Abu Anas have a history of misogynist rhetoric. I don’t speak French, so I can’t say one way or the other.
Whatever the case may be, the thing that stands out about the whole incident is that the two female protesters – apparently amid cries of “dirty whores” and “kill them” – were not simply escorted off stage, but were met with violence. Not from security, but from several attendees who jumped on stage, with one man kicking a protester after she was forced down to the floor.
At least, that’s what should stand out. But, instead, what gets the headline in most of the media coverage was not the violence, but the fact that women were topless. A group of men assaulting a woman? Meh. The woman being nude from the waist up? There’s your headline! It’s practically worthy of a South Park episode. They could title it, “Headlights Get Headlines.”
Should we be giving the men attending the “Muslim salon” a round of applause? After all, they were exposed to feminine nudity and somehow managed to survive the experience. Really, the sight of bare-breasted women in public is the sort of thing that could give you a disabling case of mental retina burn.
Just as the media has misplaced priorities in pushing reports of sex over reports of violence, many in the “Muslim salon” crowd have a habit of responding with violence to incidents that are entirely survivable: depictions of Muhammad, female nudity, and folding, spindling, or mutilating the Koran.
This mindset is horrifically expressed by the Islamic State – also known as the “Rapist State of Iraq and Syria” – where non-Muslims are exterminated or forced into sex slavery. It’s supremely twisted: the jihadis of Islamic State are apparently so fragile and delicate that anything non-Muslim in their presence must be entirely eradicated. One would have thought that a warrior of God would have thicker armor.
Image via screenshot
This is what it means when people call for a reformation in Islam. The overwhelming majority of Muslims need to come to the conclusion that the overwhelming majority of people in other religions have come to: people who don’t follow my religion aren’t an existential threat to me, my faith, or my community, and I can safely live among them. This is what happened in Christianity and the West through a process of wars and treaties – such as the Peace of Augsburg and the Peace of Westphalia – centuries ago.
I know the moment the words “Augsburg” and “Westphalia” come up, people’s eyes glaze over and they begin to hibernate in order to weather the impending history lecture. What possible importance could the Era of Oil Paintings have to us in the Information Age?
But that’s where we get our religious tolerance from. It’s why our country has such a variety of religions and such a vibrant economy. It’s why we’re not subject to suicide truck bombs, sectarian death squads, and public executions by fire and decapitation. Islam is going through a bloody phase that will hopefully yield a reformation in thought that the rest of us take for granted.
Maybe the members of the “Muslim salon” can help push the process in the right direction: if you’re dead-set on throwing someone down on the ground and kicking them, how about doing it to a member of Islamic State?
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.