It’s impossible to view Time magazine’s cover photo of Aisha, an 18-year-old Afghan girl whose nose and ears were severed by her husband and brother-in-law on the order of a Taliban commander, without shuddering.
Her “crime” was nothing more than fleeing the hellish home of in-laws who had beaten and enslaved her. That Aisha’s only recourse in the face of such abuse was to run and hide is testimony to the reality that, in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world, Sharia law prevails and women are at best second-class citizens.
Sharia is the vehicle by which the most-oppressive tenets of extreme Islamic faith become the civil law of any society on which it’s imposed. In many such places, daily life for women and girls remains today much as it was a millennium ago — the unrelieved tedium, oppression and drudgery of chattel.
It would thus be a terrible mistake to dismiss Aisha as a nightmarish exception to the rule. As columnist Diana West wrote, “Similar scenarios play out beyond the wilds of the Taliban zone wherever Sharia culture flowers, an expanding zone that now includes urban centers of the Western world from Berlin to London to Atlanta to Calgary.”
Mutilations like Aisha’s are far from the worst that can happen to women under Sharia law. The United Nations estimates that at least 5,000 women are murdered every year in “honor killings” by Muslim family members aggrieved by a wife or daughter thought to have disgraced her kin. As Fox News’ recent reporting made clear, such crimes also happen in America and will likely become more frequent occurrences as Muslims here demand, as their co-adherents already are in Britain and on the continent, that they be allowed to live under Sharia separate from the established civil law.
It’s no coincidence that renewed attention is being paid to the plight of Aisha and other Muslim women, even as we learn that 10 medical missionaries with a Christian charitable organization, including six Americans, were slaughtered last week in a remote area of northeast Afghanistan while returning from a mercy mission giving medical and dental care. The Taliban murdered them for allegedly speaking about Christianity, a charge the sponsoring organization vigorously denied.
Such barbarities remind us that no place must be given for moral equivalence on these issues. If our civil law doesn’t permit Mormon polygamy, fundamentalist snake handling or Christian science denial of medical care for children, even less can it tolerate Muslim mutilation and murder of women.
Those who can’t, or won’t, see the difference between a murderous intolerance and the intolerance of murder should be pitied and ignored.