Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Supra Lubna

Yesterday morning after waking up I looked to see, as I do every day, how many visits my blog has received. Given that it was Labor Day I expected 3. I was surprised to find 61, about 55 of which had read my second piece on Lubna Hussein’s trial being postponed arising from her arrest in Sudan in July on charges of indecency for wearing trousers.

Yesterday it was announced that she had been convicted and fined $200 and the punishment of 40 lashes had been set aside. I laughed because Lubna won. Despite the conviction which they had to give Lubna to save their faces, Lubna backed them down. It was a small victory compared to the conviction but it was a major victory compared to what could have happened.

She had stated to the world media that if convicted she wanted to receive the 40 lashes in public. Because of international publicity Lubna garnered for her case by being brave and outspoken, she backed the Sudanese authorities into a corner and they had no choice under the intense global media spotlight to back down.

I read farther down the story to find that Lubna said she was not going to pay the fine because she was going to appeal the conviction and she wanted the law repealed. An
LA Times online story that said she wore the same trousers to trial that she was arrested in.

I laughed again because Lubna inspired me. When I said in
my first piece about Lubna, “The world needs more brave souls like her”, I didn’t know she would be this brave.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I am finishing a screenplay about honor killing that I wrote with my friend Rinde who was born and raised in northern Kurdistan (southwestern Turkey) and writing a book about the history of honor killing, I always try to imagine the audience it would attract world wide.

The movement Lubna could be starting in Sudan could spread far and wide. In America more than fifty years ago, the Civil Rights movement was sparked by a seamstress named
Rosa Parks who simply refused to sit at the back of the bus. She was arrested and the Montgomery Bus Boycott began.

What Ms. Parks began obviously led to the election of the first African-American president of the United States, whose middle name happens to be the same as Lubna’s surname.

Change is possible. Because the Civil Rights Movement began in a place as fundamentalist with its Jim Crow laws toward blacks as the Sudan is with its Sharia laws toward women, a Civil Rights Movement for women can begin in Sudan.

I want to emphasize that in no way do I, as a western man, mean to suggest anything bad about Muslim men. Quite the contrary.

A victory for Lubna is a victory for Muslim men everywhere because then Muslim men will not have to use their anger and other emotions and get as upset about something as trivial as women wearing trousers. Then Muslim people everywhere can turn their attention to the more important issues facing people everywhere. It takes a lot of brain power and energy to get angry. And it is very draining.

Why not put that mental and emotional energy to good use in other ways and for other issues like food and education and health care for all the people?

As I said in my second piece about Lubna, Sharia’s indecency laws are constructed so that the woman becomes responsible (by covering up every bit of skin) for Muslim men being tempted when the responsibility should be on Muslim men to see some skin and learn to control their temptations.

Muslim men not being responsible for controlling their own responses only makes them weaker. Therefore, the indecency laws may need to be revised if not only to give women stronger rights and to make women more comfortable in their dress and to make Muslim men stronger to control their responses. Trousers cover all the skin. Modesty is all that is required by Quran. Are Lubna’s trousers not modest?

If Lubna’s trousers violated the indecency laws for many of the same reasons that were discussed 80 years ago in America when Hollywood stars began wearing trousers—the argument that trousers removed a woman’s femininity—then that has nothing to do with indecency as much as personal taste on the part of the Sharia interpreter.

It seems to me that Muslim women wearing trousers would be more in line with the equality that Prophet Muhammad stressed between Muslim women and men. But that’s just the opinion of a westerner who has done some study of Islam and Quran in the past ten years.

When Lubna wins by repealing the law, I suggest she launch her own line of clothes. She will make a fortune selling her own brand of trousers all over the world and could use that money to help other causes for the women and children of Sudan and other countries.