I know Florida legislators sometimes run amok and odd bills result. Lawmakers want to outlaw droopy pants and keep people from buying junk food with their food stamps.
But those guys are in the minor leagues compared to our friends here in the Middle East. As you no doubt realize, the Arab Spring has backfired on the democracy crowd. They drove the dictators out, but Islamists, not the educated Facebook protesters, are filling the power vacuum.
And the “farewell intercourse” bill is a result. You may have missed this story while you’ve been smothered with speculative reports about whether Mitt Romney would have had the guts to order the bin Laden assassination.
Here’s the scoop: in Egypt – where Islamists have taken control of the parliament – someone has drafted a bill that would allow Egyptian husbands to legally have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after their death.
The “farewell intercourse” bill was part of package to be considered by parliament, along with lowering the minimum marriage age to 14.
All across the Muslim world, Islamists – mostly men – are gaining power. In simple terms, an Islamist is someone who believes that citizens should adhere to Islamic law. It’s called Sharia. It’s based on the teachings in the Koran. It would be as if the laws in the United States were based on the Old Testament.
Some of you may think that’s not “turrible,” as Charles Barkley would say. I personally will always be grateful to Thomas Jefferson and his buddies for their healthy skepticism of religion.
But here in the Middle East, most people want their governments to be based on Sharia. And, ironically, the Arab Spring revolts have unleashed the Islamists, who were suppressed by the region’s secular dictators.
There is now a fairly legitimate version of democracy in Egypt and it is producing what a majority of people want – an Islamic state.
What this produces in the long run remains to be seen. Many Islamist leaders in Egypt and elsewhere claim to be moderate. They say they want to create progressive and prosperous countries that are built on Islamic principles.
I hope that turns out to be true. But there is enormous pressure from fundamentalists who think Afghanistan under the Taliban is the way to go.
If they prevail, woe to Muslim women.
Many members of Egypt’s new parliament have been accused of launching attacks against women’s rights. Women’s groups are complaining, but there’s little evidence anyone is listening.
And in Morocco last month, a 16-year-old rape victim who was forced to marry her rapist killed herself by swallowing rat poison. Police cannot charge a man with rape if the victim agrees to marry him. Reports say a judge pressured the girl to marry so the man would be spared prosecution and her family’s honor would be preserved.
Those impulses are out there in the Muslim world. Keep an eye on Egypt’s legislators and see if they lower the marriage age and legalize “farewell intercourse.”
A former managing editor of The Palm Beach Post, Tom O'Hara is a senior editor with The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi and a Middle East columnist for Florida Voices.
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