Nagla Al Imam: Ex-Muslim convert to Christianity . . . but what of her other views?
According to the ex-Muslim convert to Christianity Nonie Darwish, in an article "If You Convert You Die" (August 03, 2009) written for Front Page Magazine, the Egyptian feminist Nagla Al Imam has converted from Islam to Christianity:
[The] prominent Egyptian lawyer and women's rights activist, Nagla Al Imam, recently announced her conversion to Christianity in Cairo, Egypt. The announcement brought shock waves in and beyond Egypt. This is perhaps the first case ever of its kind, where a Muslim woman, who is also a Sharia expert, has openly challenged Islamic apostasy laws from within the Muslim world.This is certainly surprising news, especially in light of Ms. Al-Imam's expertise in Sharia -- implying that she understands the deadly consequences -- but in certain respects somewhat less astonishing than the report about this same Al-Imam from last November 18 (2008), when Front Page Magazine posted the MEMRI translation of an interview on Al-Arabiya TV (October 31, 2008):
Ms. Al Imam's incredible courage was on display in an internet chat room, where she announced that she is not afraid, will stand up for the human rights of apostates and refuses to leave her homeland, Egypt. This was immediately followed by attacks and calls ('fatwas') for death of the 36 year-old graduate of Al Azhar Islamic University.
"No. Sexual harassment."Ms. Al-Imam also explained her reasoning:
"This is a form of resistance. In my opinion, they are fair game for all Arabs, and there is nothing wrong with [it]."Pressed still further, she explained her justification in calling for this form of 'resistance':
"First of all, they violate our rights, and they 'rape' the land. Few things are as grave as the rape of land. In my view, this is a new form of resistance."When the interviewer inquired, "As a lawyer, don't you think this might expose Arab youth to punishment for violating laws against sexual harassment?" Ms. Al-Imam replied:
"Most Arab countries . . . [w]ith the exception of three or four Arab countries, which I don't think allow Israeli women to enter anyway, most Arab countries do not have sexual harassment laws. Therefore, if [Arab women] are fair game for Arab men, there is nothing wrong with Israeli women being fair game as well."Hmmm . . . was she speaking ironically here? She is, after all, a women's rights activist, so she surely does not believe that Arab women "are fair game for Arab men." Did she intend her remarks as criticism of Arab men's treatment of Arab women? If not meant in irony, Ms. Al-Imam's argument is odd, even bizarre. Even if ironic, the argument is overly convoluted.
Whatever she might have intended then, while still Muslim, I'd like to know her views now that she has converted to Christianity. I can't quite imagine that whatever Christian church she has attached herself to would officially affirm her statement on the right of Arab men to sexually harass Israeli women who are visiting Arab countries as tourists.
I respect her courage as an open apostate in a Muslim country (even if that seems rather foolhardy), and I support her free speech to say what she thinks (despite my visceral reaction to her words), but I'd definitely like to know if she genuinely approves of Arab men's right to sexually harassment Israeli women. I'd then better know what to think about her.
Unless her outrageous 'rape' statement and her very public 'conversion' are extreme publicity stunts . . . but to what end?