Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Egyptian Islamists attempt to draw a veil over 'salacious' masterpiece

Robert Fisk reports on the hardline law group that wants to censor passages from 'One Thousand and One Nights'

"How come the Muslim world – at its moments of greatest crisis – will invariably manage to deflect its energies into the most preposterous cultural, historical or religious questions?

Egyptian Islamists have said they want to censor "salacious" passages from the One Thousand and One Nights, one of the Muslim world's priceless literary works. This is the same country whose prelates once ordered a university professor to divorce his wife because he had dared to suggest a reinterpretation of the Koran.

Ayman Abdel Hakeem, a member of the "Islamist Lawyers without Shackles" group, wants to censor the tales told in the Arabian Nights because the epic "contains profanities which cannot be acceptable in Egyptian society." The very idea of an insatiable woman offends him. "We understand that this kind of literature is acceptable in the West, but here we have a different culture" he is reported as saying.....

Saudi Arabia, too, is just now bound up in a "fatwa" war by ulemas who are variously giving or condemning new religious rulings....

In Egypt, Mohamed Salmawy, president of the Egyptian Writers' Union, says, surely correctly, that the Islamists want to take their revenge on intellectuals who have been fighting for free debate in Cairo. "The Taliban ruined the Buddha statues in Afghanistan and these people here are trying to destroy an equally important monument of our heritage," he told the Los Angeles Times.....

At a time when many suspect there will be a new war between the Lebanese Hizbollah and Israel next year, it seems almost incomprehensible that a people will fritter away their energies on this nonsense."

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