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when tradition falters

Reader comment on item: The Middle East's Tribal Affliction

Submitted by Rebecca Moulds (United States), Jan 24, 2008 at 10:16

The recent " honor killings" of young girls in our own country only point to the ludicrousness and backwardness of Middle Eastern thinking, most of it perpetrated by Muslims, concerning women and their role in society. This is only one problem amongst many that have caused the Middle East to stall in the freedoms category, and this mentality has been carried over into other countries. A father kills his two daughters because they were wearing Western-style clothes and dating. Horror of horrors! I wept when I saw the photos of the two young girls, knowing their lives have been snuffed out because their father thought they were evil.

While living in Cairo, I employed a driver, and occasionally sat in the front seat. That in itself was frowned upon, even for a foreigner. Some Egyptian men would invariably assume that I was the wife of my driver, because the alternative was unthinkable. My driver allowed me this freedom because I was foreign, however, he told me his wife could not even visit her mother in another city unless he gave her permission to leave. This infuriated me and we had endless arguments about the double-standards in Arabic societies.

I have to agree with Mr. Salzman that tribal mentality and clannish closeness have stunted the growth of the Middle East, and much of it has to do with the squashing of women's rights of equality and the rejection of individualism. Although I understand that there exists in this world cultural differences, it still stunned me to see the bloody hand prints on a new car, parked in the parking lot of a five-star hotel in Cairo. A sheep or goat had been slaughtered, the hands dipped in the blood, and printed all over the car in celebration of this new toy.

This assault to the senses and sensibilities in the grounds of a luxury hotel seemed incongruous and inappropriate in our time, but totally in harmony with tribal traditions that have been around for centuries. Until the realisation that some of these traditions and beliefs may have held back progress in the Middle East, there may never be a solution, so hoping for change may be all in vain.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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