President Pervez Musharraf has opened a new and especially bitter confrontation with radical Islam by trying to rewrite Pakistan's controversial rape laws.Further growth in Britain's Pakistani population, numbering almost 750,000 according to the UK's 2001 Census, isn't good for gender equality. Immigration restriction will do far more for women's rights than countless domestic abuse awareness campaigns will do.
These place an almost impossible burden of proof on women by compelling them to produce four "pious" male witnesses to prove rape or risk being convicted of adultery and face 100 lashes or death by stoning.
This law, known as the Hudood Ordinance, has been regarded as untouchable since its passage 27 years ago.
Musharraf's coalition holds a majority in Parliament, but not all of its members support Hudood (which translates as "punishments") reform:
Lawmakers nursing serious reservations against President Pervez Musharraf's efforts to ease discrimination against women absented themselves in Pakistan's National Assembly Friday to thwart the introduction of a bill to amend the controversial Hudood laws.
Only 30-40 members of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid) were present. The opposition parties, bent on a no-confidence move against the government of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, walked out.
Islamic fundamentalists have led rallies throughout Pakistan in opposition to the law, vowing in some cases even to defend Hudood to the death. However, the crowds such displays have drawn are paltry:
Mairaj-ul-Huda Siddiqui, a leader of an opposition alliance of six religious parties, told a crowd of about 200 in the city of Karachi after Friday prayers: "We will even sacrifice our lives for this and will not allow these amendments to take place,"
"This is part of a US and Jewish conspiracy and we will resist it forcefully," Siddiqui said.
Similar small protests were held in Lahore, Peshawar and the capital, Islamabad.
Certainly doesn't compare to the rabble roused in response to the NewsWeek report on Koran desecration. On the other hand, the push for reform doesn't have a populist vein either (think estate taxation in the US). Musharraf favors it, but elections are coming up and he's justifiably concerned about how his perception as a Western stooge might play into a fourth assassination attempt.
That there are several political parties with representation in Pakistan that vow to fight to the death to defend laws that severly punish victims of rape if they cannot produce four male witnesses and allow men to marry girls should tell us that Pakistani culture is not compatible with the Occident. In the words of Thomas Jefferson:
Immigrants will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, or if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbridled licentiousness, passing, as usual, from one extreme to the other. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty.Why rely on a miracle when rejected visa applications will do?
(Clash of civilizations)