Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Republicans vs. the Constitution: the Talibornagain, theocracy rising, and the Schiavo case 

The essential Juan Cole note:

The cynical use by the US Republican Party of the Terri Schiavo case repeats, whether deliberately or accidentally [it's not accidental. See the UPDATE below], the tactics of Muslim fundamentalists and theocrats in places like Egypt and Pakistan.

The Muslim fundamentalists use a provision of Islamic law called "bringing to account" (hisba). As Al-Ahram weekly notes, "Hisba signifies a case filed by an individual on behalf of society when the plaintiff feels that great harm has been done to religion." Hisba is a medieval idea that had all be lapsed when the fundamentalists brought it back in the 1970s and 1980s.

In this practice, any individual can use the courts to intervene in the private lives of others. Among the more famous cases of such interference is that of Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid in Egypt. A respected modern scholar of Koranic studies, Abu Zaid argued that, contrary to medieval interpretations of Islamic law, women and men should receive equal inheritance shares. (Medieval Islamic law granted women only half the inheritance shares of their brothers). Abu Zaid was accused of sacrilege. Then the allegation of sacrilege was used as a basis on which the fundamentalists sought to have the courts forcibly divorce him from his wife.

Wouldn't be interesting if this tactic was used to remove Michael Schiavo from his guardianship?

One of the most objectionable features of this fundamentalist tactic is that persons without standing can interfere in private affairs. Perfect strangers can file a case about your marriage, because they represent themselves as defending a public interest (the upholding of religion and morality).

But the most frightening thing about the entire affair is that public figures like congressmen inserted themselves into the case in order to uphold religious strictures. The lawyer arguing against the husband let the cat out of the bag, as reported by the NYT: ' The lawyer, David Gibbs, also said Ms. Schiavo's religious beliefs as a Roman Catholic were being infringed because Pope John Paul II has deemed it unacceptable for Catholics to refuse food and water. "We are now in a position where a court has ordered her to disobey her church and even jeopardize her eternal soul," Mr. Gibbs said. '

In other words, the United States Congress acted in part on behalf of the Roman Catholic church. Both of these public bodies interfered in the private affairs of the Schiavos, just as the fundamentalist Egyptian, Nabih El-Wahsh, tried to interfere in the marriage of Nawal El Saadawi.
(via Informed Consent)

As always, FTF. Because, as we've said (back) the fundamentalists at home and the fundamentalists abroad are just two sides of the same coin, and one is just as much a threat to the Constitution and our way of life—and yes, morals, and values—as the other.

UPDATE Why, one wonders, is the question never asked: Who's funding these people? For example, who's funding the fundamentalist trial lawyer, Schindler?

Why, surprise! It turns out it's the usual suspects: Scaife, Coors, the whole gang. The same guys that fund the VRWC, the same guys that sponsored the coup against Clinton. The same guys who fund the dominionists.

It's not surprising that they're out to trash the Constitution. That is, in fact, their ultimate goal, and has been all along. You can't have the Constitution and theocracy at the same time, and theocracy is what these guys want.

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