Another month, another tale of industrial-scale repair, restructuring or replicating of hymens in the Muslim world. This time, it's the Los Angeles Times' Jeffrey Fleishman and Amro Hassan on the virginity trail. The hot news: a new, $30 "Artificial Virginity Hymen Kit" will buy Egyptian women a gadget to produce enough wedding night blood to prove their purity. No small thing in a jurisdiction where honor killing is the sometime solution to extracurricular deflowerings.
Alas, the Timesmen's enthusiasm for genital mechanics is unmatched by concerns about political manipulation. For Fleishman and Hassan stoke their story with a misleadingly-benign impression of their sources. In doing so, they've inadvertently laundered some of the most sinister radical-Islamic elements in the Egyptian firmament – some of them with a presence in our communities.
Our journos start with the obligatory upset of the arch-radical Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members faced with the predictable moral issues. Except that Fleishman and Hassan don't call them "radical." Instead, we're told the MB folk are "conservatives," a polite handle that might properly describe McCain or Churchill or your uncle in Missouri, assuming your uncle doesn't have the MB's "dying-in-the-path-of-Allah" nailed to his mantelpiece. It's sheer misdirection to pass off the Muslim Brotherhood as mere "conservatives" when they've been recognized as an international extremist, supremacist outfit since their founding by the seethingly anti-Western Hassan al-Banna in 1928.
The article clatters along, promiscuously quoting MB operatives without the least hint that they're attached to a fanatic group that is the mother of worldwide Islamist front organizations whose presence in America and the West is a real and present subversive danger. From there, those identified as Brotherhood reps are supplemented in the article with the supporting views of a source who is palmed off on us as "Farid Ismael, a member of parliament's health committee." Never are we vouchsafed word that Mr. Ismael is, as the quickest Googling shows, a prominent MB agitator.
In similar vein, the Times' piece bows to the opinions of "Egypt's leading Muslim cleric, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi," the grand imam of Al-Azhar University, as though he were a progressive for trying to ban face-veils on religious grounds. Fleishman and Hassan seem unaware that, as Bruce Thornton has revealed, Mr. Tantawi has rather unprogressively condemned Jews as the "descendants of apes and pigs" – also, apparently on religious grounds (Quran 5:60).
Even-handed in his rabidity, Imam Tantawi is said by Egypt's Al-Ahram weekly to have "defined Bahaism as a sacrilegious dogma followed by a deviant sect of atheists" – something else unmentioned by the Times. Missing information and irony, the writers spin Tantawi's Al-Azhar connection as further evidence of his sweet reason, ignoring Al-Azhar's notoriety as a hotbed and headquarters of MB activity.
So, too, with Fleishman and Hassan's reference to Cleric Abdul Moeti Bayouni's demand that sellers of hymen devices be "punished for spreading immorality and sin." There is no mention that Bayouni is connected with the Al-Azhar MB stronghold. Or that, far from his being merely the pre-Victorian rantings of a quaintly-benighted individual, Bayouni might actually be calling for what is frequently understood in the Middle East to be the theologically-correct prescription for immorality and sin: death.
As a great philosopher must surely have said, soft-soaping has consequences. This is especially so when American Brotherhood-front organizations are embarked on charm offensives calculated to extract recognition from a novice U.S. administration that has hardly distinguished itself for its understanding of the cast of international jihadist characters.
What was the Times thinking?