Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Education, Bravery and the Hideousness of Fanaticism.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg)

Several news outlets are revisiting the heinous acts that occurred back in November when 15 Afghani schoolgirls and their female teachers were viciously attacked by men on motorcycles in Kandahar.

One morning two months ago, Shamsia Husseini and her sister were walking through the muddy streets to the local girls school when a man pulled alongside them on a motorcycle and posed what seemed like an ordinary question.

“Are you going to school?”

The men squirted the acid from water bottles onto three groups of females and the act was meant to terrorize them into staying home. A literal violent attempt to expunge any element of free will in their minds, to burn or sear obedience into them. These despicable acts are an apt expression of the medieval thinking that characterized the rule of the Taliban from 1996 to 2001 in Afghanistan and at which times girls were banned from schools.

For a few days after the attacks, parents kept their children away from the 5 year old Mirwais School for Girls built by the Japanese government. Then the headmaster, Mahmood Qadari – a man – reached out to the parents, and promised them greater police protection. “If you don’t send your daughters to school, then the enemy wins,” Qadari told the New York Times. “I told them not to give in to darkness. Education is the way to improve our society.”

And then an amazing thing happened, they began to come back. Today most of the school’s 1,300 girls, including nearly all of the wounded ones, have refused to be cowed. “My parents told me to keep coming to school even if I am killed,” Shamsia, 17, told The Times. “The people who did this to me don’t want women to be educated. They want us to be stupid things.”  The girls’ have learned to be brave — and are providing an inspirational lesson in defiance.

Eduction is integral to any constructive future Afghanistan might have. Of the 5.7 million students enrolled last year, according to Afghan government data, 35% are girls. About 800,000 of the total were new students, and 40% of them are girls. The high schools graduated 69,000 students, of whom 25% are girls.

During Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing last Tuesday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, of California, saidno woman or girl should have to grow up and face persecution for having being born female“, and referred to acid attacks common against women in Pakistan. Clinton said the issue is “central to our foreign policy.”

“It is heartbreaking beyond words that, you know, young girls are attacked on their way to school by Taliban sympathizers and members who do not want young women to be educated.” Clinton responded, “This is not culture. This is not custom. This is criminal. And it will be my hope to persuade more government … that we cannot have a free, prosperous, peaceful, progressive world if women are treated in such a discriminatory and violent way.”

Some people disfigure little girls because of religious fanaticism. Some people deny Israel the right to exist because of religious fanaticism. Some people deny Palestinians the right to sovereignty because of religious fanaticism. Some people deny women the right to abortions because of religious fanaticism. Some people deny gay people the right to marry because of religious fanaticism.

In my humble opinion, the world could do without religious fanatics.


  1. spacemanspiff

    In my humble opinion, the world could do without religious fanatics.

    People don’t need anyone or anything to tell them what to believe. What makes us interesting and different as people – or at least, one of the things – is the way in which we can each formulate different ideas of right and wrong and so on. I hate intolerance.

  2. It has become, regrettably, often something that carries negative connotations.  “Arrogance”, foolishness, machismo…

    Bravery is none of those things, and life demands it of us frequently if we are to live up to our highest capacity.  Like the girls of Mirwais School for Girls, we all have choices to make that require us to be brave and accept the risk of our decisions.

    This can be (but rarely is, in our Western world) an actual physical risk to ourselves that we must weigh against the damage we do to ourselves and our society by scurrying away from it.  Sometimes it is the risk of making a decision that may go horribly wrong, and for which you will never be able to explain yourself, but which you believe to be right.  It may be to support violence as a tool to end violence (as I support in Afghanistan), knowing that this may be incorrect.  It may be in opposing just that, knowing that this position may lead to others being treated as these girls have been.

    Bravery also specifically means standing up to religious fanaticism, imho.  Not “well, everyone has the right to their beliefs” ‘tolerance’, but “Sometimes people are just flat wrong and must be stopped”.  If we can’t be brave enough to risk a moral stand – however our Enlightened Friends may frown across the canapes at us – then we shouldn’t sully the thoughts of brave girls who walk to school.

  3. Strummerson

    I commented over at MyDD.  Be careful over there.  Try not to get dragged into a back and forth about I/P stuff.  The baiting has already begun.  I recommend letting others try to shut it down.  Whey the hell does everything get so petty and personal over there?

    As I commented there, with HRC installed at state, perhaps our foreign policy will begin to take women’s rights and human rights seriously again.  When moral obligation meets political opportunity, history can get going again.

  4. Jjc2008

    Years, decades, centuries of women and girls being beaten and torture because of some paternalistic sadism based on religion is as unacceptable now as it should have been in the 1980s when in Afghanistan the rise of violence against women and children based on extremist views was coming to the attention of the world.  We stood by silently, our governments, in the name of what?  Tolerance for a those who believe the have the right to beat, kill, enslave women and girls because of religion?  

    It’s hard to believe that in this millenium there are still so many societies that tolerate this kind of violence against women.

  5. Hollede

    Hard to read about and know this sort of thing still exists in our world. Thank you for bringing this to light.

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