Whether or not you already know who Reza Aslan is, know this: This man is a voice of reason. From the moment he starts talking at 1:21, I’m absolutely smitten with his words. Skip to 4:49 to watch him answer the question we’re all waiting for him to answer.
But wait! He’s still got more to say. Starting at 8:22, Aslan has some parting words for the CNN hosts and drops the mic in a pretty epic way.
This segment gets an A+ from me. I hope you’ll think so, too.
- According to a recent UNICEF report, Eritrea *does* practice female genital mutilation at rates of 89%, while Ethiopia has FGM at rates of 74%. Both of them are, in fact, Christian countries. Welp, I guess that means “Islam causes FGM” just went out the window as an argument.
- FGM does happen in Muslim-majority countries, but as Aslan mentions, FGM seems to be more of a Central African problem, not a Muslim problem. In their report, UNICEF indicates they decided to focus on Africa because the practice is concentrated there. Recently, articles like this one indicated a militant group in Muslim-majority Iraq had ordered FGM for all women and girls there. But HOLD UP! People met this reporting with doubts, and Middle East experts pointed out that it doesn’t fit with cultural traditions of the region.
- Plus, this June 2014 Guardian article indicates the Muslim Council of Britain has declared FGM un-Islamic because Islamic teachings say believers should not harm themselves or others. And, well, FGM obviously falls under “don’t harm others.” So do we need any more proof that there’s no particular link between FGM and Islam?
- Yes, there *have* been a ton of female heads of state in Muslim-majority countries. United States, you need to catch up, big time.
- Aslan mentions Iran and Saudi Arabia are not free and open societies for women while arguing that’s not the case in Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Turkey. We’re not *entirely* sure what he means by “equal,” but Aslan’s justification makes sense. Those countries are more fair to women, even if not ideally equal. And, hey, let’s remember that a ton of countries we think are “equal” (like the U.S.) still have a lot of problems with sexism and gender equality.
- Human Rights Watch indicates that Saudi Arabia beheaded 19 people from Aug. 4 to 21, 2014. Washington Post more recently said 8 “in last month.” So it probably depends on timing, but Aslan seems to be on top of this.
- Scarily enough, there *are* Buddhist monks in Myanmar slaughtering women and children. More on that from New York Times, BBC, and Al-Jazeera.