Tuesday, May 28, 2013

About that 'Satirical' Misinfographic

Yawn... yet another 'expose' in yesterday's Murdoch fishwrapper of how those bloody Muslims have us all on the run:

"The Australian National University has cited international violence in the wake of the Danish cartoon and Innocence of Muslims controversies in justifying its decision to force student newspaper Woroni to pulp a satirical infographic which described a passage from the Koran as a 'rape fantasy'... In the April 16 edition of Woroni, authors Jamie Freestone, Matthew McGann and Todd Cooper posed the question, 'How should I value women?' Their answers referenced Aisha, the prophet Mohammed's nine-year-old wife, and described the 72 'houris' - women depicted in the Koran as large-bosomed virgins who are a reward in paradise - as a 'rape fantasy'." (Uni bans Koran satire for fear of violent backlash, Rachel Baxendale, The Australian, 27/5/13)

Predictably, it's provided the opportunity for a feeding frenzy by Islamophobic letter writers in today's Australian, who, and here's the irony, bang on about free speech in a paper that has scant respect for that very value.

But for me free speech is really not the issue here.

No, the problem I have is not with the university's pulping of the trio's so-called "satirical infographic," but rather with the simple fact that the blokes who created it know SFA about the subject they're supposedly satirising.

All these boofheads have done is pluck a couple of canards from one or other of the hundreds of Islamophobic websites that infest the internet, and milk them for a few laughs under the pretence that they have something useful to say on the subject of Muslim women. And I'm supposed to get all het-up if the university raps them over the knuckles?

I'm sorry, but I'm somewhat handicapped here by two apparently very old-fashioned ideas:

1) Universities have (or should have) something to do with critical thinking.
2) If you really feel you must have a say on a subject, make sure you first know what you're talking about.

Now before I move on to the Aisha and 72 virgins canards, I thought I'd provide you with the solitary result of a little google search on our would-be satirists. What follows is taken from a Q&A under the heading Feminist of the Week: Jamie Freestone. It can be found at the website lipmag.com (6/3/12):

Q: Do you think feminism has a place in today's society?
JF: No. Just kidding, that's a bit of a Dorothy Dixer, isn't it? In poorer nations, especially poorer nations where fundamentalist Islam is the dominant religion, it is cardinally important. In somewhere like Australia it's still important but it's sometimes harder to see exactly how sexism is manifested and what should be done about it.

So Saudi Arabia is a poor country and sexism's a rare and endangered species in Australia? Right...

Now to the canards themselves.

First, neither Aisha's name nor her age at the consummation of her marriage to the Prophet are even mentioned in the Qur'an. She only really crops up in the hadith, the authenticity of which depend on confirmation in the Qur'an. As to the question of her age at the consummation of her marriage to the Prophet, try reading Age of Aisha (ra) at time of marriage by Zahid Aziz at muslim.org, which suggests that she was really around 14-15 years of age at the time of consummation.

Second, nor are those 72 'houris' to be found in the Qur'an. They come rather from a 9th century hadith by Ahmad at-Tirmidhi. Nor is there any reference there to the size or otherwise of their bosoms. (See my 21/7/09 post 72 Virgins... Again!)

Seriously now, if our valiant trio really want to live bravely and strike a blow for free speech and human rights, let them try heading up a BDS initiative on campus - after first reading Omar Barghouti's BDS: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights (2011) of course.

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