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"So does God hate women?" it asks. 

Well, what can one say. Religious authorities and conservative clerics worship a wretchedly cruel unjust vindictive executioner of a God. They worship a God of 10-year-old boys, a God of playground bullies, a God of rapists, of gangs, of pimps. They worship — despite rhetoric about justice and compassion — a God who sides with the strong against the weak, a God who cheers for privilege and punishes egalitarianism. They worship a God who is  a male and who gangs up with other males against women. They worship a thug. They worship a God who thinks little girls should be married to grown men. They worship a God who looks on in approval when a grown man rapes a child because he is "married" to her. They worship a God who thinks a woman should receive 80 lashes with a whip because her hair wasn't completely covered. They worship a God who is pleased when three brothers hack their sisters to death with axes because one of them married without their father's permission. 

If this sounds harsh, consider that Sharia adultery laws state that a raped woman must face the next-to-impossible task of providing four male witnesses to substantiate her allegation or be convicted of adultery. When rapists leave Pakistani women pregnant, the court takes the bulge in their bellies as evidence against them. In Nigeria, Sharia courts not only punish raped women for adultery, but order an extra punishment of a whipping for making false accusations against "innocent" men. In Israel, ultra-Orthodox gangs in Jerusalem beat up women seen in the company of married men. In the United States, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints give teenagers to old men in arranged marriages and tell them they must completely submit to their wishes.  In Saudi Arabia, women live in a theocratic state that stops them walking unaccompanied in the street, driving a car and speaking to men outside the family. After unwisely taking a sprig of the bin Laden family to be her husband, Carmen Dufour described the consequences. 

At first, I wasn't even aware of what seemed so strange about this  country, but then it hit me: half the population of Saudi Arabia is kept behind walls, all the time. It was hard to fathom, a city with almost no women. I felt like a ghost. Women didn't exist in this world of men.

To move from ghosts to corpses, if the Taliban retake power in Afghanistan, they will once again ban women from public spaces, thus depriving them of employment, and thus closing the health and education services. Any teacher who presumes to teach them to read and write will be executed. Meanwhile the Islamic Republic of Iran has almost certainly renewed its terror tactic of raping women prisoners before killing them. Because religious law declares it illegal to execute a virgin, the guards arrange a "wedding" ceremony and rape the prisoner once it is over. 

"I regret that, even though the marriages were legal," a Basiji militiaman said as he recalled how he became a state-endorsed rapist as a young man. "I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their ‘wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning, the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed as if they were ready or wanted to die."

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September 5th, 2009
12:09 AM
So liberals and feminists are now the cause of the suffering and oppression of women in Islamic countries. But hasnt it been the actions and strategies of Western governments, particularly the USA to keep all of these horrible regimes in place to protect their "security" interests. Why wasnt Saudi Arabia invaded after September 11--after all most of the terrorists were Saudi nationals. And lets not forget that most if not all of these regimes were originally created and installed by western governments, particularly the "freedom" loving British.

Bill Corr
September 3rd, 2009
3:09 PM
Islamic culture is wonderful:

September 2nd, 2009
2:09 PM
"For at the root of the weird twists in liberal opinion I have been arguing against lies physical fear:" Ah fear. The basis of religion, remarked Bertie Russell -- doubtless not alone. The other half of religion is sex. It is interesting/disgraceful to confront the misogyny here in Massachusetts, the source of the new feminist and the original abolitionist movements, among some "educated." 'Feudalistic' societies need time to evolve "from within": we must submit to time and remove revolt or revolution from our black hearts. And we atheists do have to submit in "educated" and polite society. We may not declare such things as the equality of misogyny and religion. If one percent of the men in 'Islamic' cultures were treated the way essentially 100% of the women are, we would not have trouble with calling it slavery.

Frank M
September 2nd, 2009
12:09 PM
So we'll all be soon able to review a book of merit by this resistor then? No - I didn't think so.

September 2nd, 2009
11:09 AM
Not only is educating women the one true path out of poverty, it is also the only really effective contraceptive, thereby leading to better health for mothers and babies and less population pressure - having too many babies is a very good way of keeping women quiet. So please will everyone in the West acknowledge that most Islamic sects, and many other 'traditional' societies, condone and approve the hideous contravention of human rights for half any given population. 'Culture' be damned. Jesus on the other hand had an anachronistically positive approach to women and never married anyone - although he did talk to and teach, and heal the taboo illnesses of, and make friends with, many.

daniel lionsden
September 2nd, 2009
8:09 AM
Another magnificent article Mr Cohen. I tip my hat to you.

Mariam Dessaive
September 1st, 2009
12:09 PM
One of the things I understand better now is the colonial position white women take in view of suppressed coloured ones. They tend to increasingly disregard them as equals. Probably, because most white women are still not truly equal themselves, and what with economic difficulties looming, may have to retreat to traditional roles once again. This is what it looks like in Germany, where Turkish or Polish women as a matter of course do the cleaning jobs. Though: introducing the Sharia in England on the prompting of a male Anglican (?) did shock us! Very good article, thank you! Herzliche Grüße aus Frankfurt!

September 1st, 2009
9:09 AM
Well, I suppose the grand conspiracy theory holds some water, save for one small yet significant point: New Statesman, a magazine whose existence I'm sure Nick is well aware, published a very positive review of this book by Johann Hari (ditto, mutatis mutandi) which concludes in part: "Anybody not addled by superstition will have to conclude that such bigotry deserves neither respect nor deference. [...] It deserves the opposite: contempt – and relentless, unyielding opposition." While the unedifying spectacle of Greer et al attempting to outdo the last outrage of relativism is indeed sickening, it is noteworthy that there are persons of conscience on every side of the political divide who can see these outrages for what they are.

August 31st, 2009
10:08 PM
'Does God Hate Women?' is a terrific book - and by the way, it didn't get universally bad reviews, See Joan Smith in The Independent for instance - she called it a wonderful book.

August 31st, 2009
9:08 AM
Isn't it bizarre that while Nick Cohen is raising a very serious issue about women (as the tiltle might suggest) some troll couldn't brings Iraq into the conversation. Why be shy 'resistor' and not mention Neo-con, Bushitler, Bliar et al? An no, Nick is not inventing a conspiracy. The smug liberal establishment's cowardice in the face of religious fascism is there for all to see, except for those who have a vested interest in playing nice with Islamist hand-choppers.

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