“Islamic Revival in Syria Is Led by Women,” by Katherine Zoepf, New York Times, 29 August 2006, A1, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/world/middleeast/29syria.html.
A key U.S. legislator said in Israel on Sunday he would block aid President George W. Bush promised Lebanon and free the funds only when Beirut agreed to the deployment of international troops on the border with Syria
“The international community must use all our available means to stiffen Lebanon’s spine and to convince the government of Lebanon to have the new UNIFIL troops on the Syrian border in adequate numbers,” said Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives’ International Relations Committee.
Syria, showing the same stupidity that got her expelled from Lebanon in the first place, promises to play into her enemies’ hands
Syria has threatened to shut its border with Lebanon if U.N. troops deploy there. Israel says it will not lift a sea and air blockade of Lebanon unless a U.N. force helps ensure that no new weapons reach Hizbollah in the south.
At those meetings, participants say, they are tutored further in the faith and are even taught how to influence some of their well-connected fathers and husbands to accept a greater presence of Islam in public life.
These are the two faces of an Islamic revival for women in Syria, one that could add up to a potent challenge to this determinedly secular state. Though government officials vociferously deny it, Syria is becoming increasingly religious and its national identity is weakening. If Islam replaces that identity, it may undermine the unity of a society that is ruled by a Muslim religious minority, the Alawites, and includes many religious groups.
Syrian officials, who had front-row seats as Hezbollah dragged Lebanon into war, are painfully aware of the myriad ways that state authority can be undermined by increasingly powerful, and appealing, religious groups. Though Syriaâ€™s government supports Hezbollah, it has been taking steps to ensure that the phenomenon it helped to build in Lebanon does not come to haunt it at home.
For many years any kind of religious piety was viewed here with skepticism. But while men suspected of Islamist activity are frequently interrogated and jailed, subjecting women to such treatment would cause a public outcry that the government cannot risk. Women have taken advantage of their relatively greater freedom to form Islamic groups, becoming a deeply rooted and potentially subversive force to spread stricter and more conservative Islamic practices in their families and communities.
Mr. Abdul Salam explained that such secret Islamic prayer groups recruited women differently, depending on their social position. â€œThey teach poor women how to humble themselves in front of their husbands and how to pray, but theyâ€™re teaching upper-class women how to influence politics,â€ he said.
(It is not surprising that radical Muslims are exploiting women in this way. Christians did the same thing to spread their ideology and conquer Rome. Women are not somehow opposed to religion. They are the vehicles for religion.)
Arab National-Secularism is in collapse. Since Sharon took power in 2000, and Bush took power in 2001, Lebanon and Iraq have been freed from the National-Secularist yoke. Now we see the Syrian National-Secularists increasingly isolated from their former-client and from their own people.
Like the Qaedists, the National-Secularists are losing. The dreams of our generational enemies in the Middle East are falling apart. Good.