First there is the case of poor Bridget Bardot, here reported by an Algerian newspaper in an interesting and notably unsympathetic way. What would PETA say?
Next there is this odd case of the annulment of a Muslim couple where the groom was, apparently, surprised and disgruntled about the non-virginity of his bride. A French court granted the annulment on the grounds that it was a breach of contract in this particular kind of (i.e., Muslim) marriage.
But in treating the case as a breach of contract, the ruling was decried by critics who said it undermined decades of progress in women’s rights. Marriage, they said, was reduced to the status of a commercial transaction in which women could be discarded by husbands claiming to have discovered hidden defects in them.Interesting . . . but there’s more:
The court decision "is a real fatwa against the emancipation and liberty of women. We are returning to the past," said Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara, the daughter of immigrants from Muslim North Africa, using the Arabic term for a religious decree.
"Today, the judicial system of a modern country cannot hold to these savage traditions, completely inhuman for the young woman," said the rector of the Paris Mosque, Dalil Boubakeur.
He likened the court decision to "equating marriage with a commercial transaction."
Like some others, Boubakeur, a moderate, voiced fears that Muslim fundamentalists would seek to profit from the Lille ruling "as they have done with the veil. ... Fundamentalists use (head scarves) like their flag."
"We ask Muslims to live in their era," he said.
One hardly knows how to begin to unpack all of that . . . "Savage" traditions? I thought we were not allowed to pass judgments or use words like that. Bardot found out what happens when you do that. "Commercial transaction"? I’m confused. I thought secular liberals wanted marriage to be reduced to a commercial transaction so as to keep religion and morals out of it. But now we see that treating it as a "commercial transaction" may invite some of the more undesirable aspects of some religions right back in . . . It’s a tough spot for these guys and I feel for them. Relativism is a tricky master. Ahhh . . . but I see now. It all comes down to the "live in your era" argument. Get with the times and so forth . . . But here the trouble is that it begins to be pretty clear that history does not "progress" in quite the straight line they had been willing to hope it would. Everything old is new again and, this time, they meet the argument disarmed.