Millennium Post

Caliphate and the woman question

Whether or not the ‘Caliphate’, Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/al-Shams (ISIS), had ordered female genital mutilation in the occupied territories of Iraq and Syria, is undoubtedly an important question that needs to be explored from various angles, including the veracity of the report itself.

After the reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared Caliph of Iraq and beyond, had indeed issued a fatwa declaring all women in the occupied region must undergo FGM to acquire ‘immortality’, there were vehement denials from such groups, which leads us to question whether the entire episode was an elaborate hoax to deflect attention from the massacre in Gaza by Israeli forces.

Even though initial reports, which cited the same source (United Nations’ deputy humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock and some residents of Mosul), confirmed that ISIS had ordered FGM, a heinous practice still observed in remote corners of Talibanised Afghanistan, North Africa and some regressive isles of West Asia, the denials that came by contradicted the former allegations.

This volte-face and the inability of Western media to ‘follow up’ the story points towards a number of things, chiefly how trends in global media can be artificially engineered to trigger desired responses and distract the general public from pressing issues like the current genocide in Gaza.

Hence, it needs to be established whether or not the FGM story was an attempt to delegitimise at least one aspect of the ISS occupation: a freedom struggle to oust US-led NATO forces and a West-backed puppet government in Iraq. In case there was such a decree issued, it is a humanitarian crisis of unbelievable proportions which must be stopped at all cost.

However, if it’s a blatant falsehood spread by those with vested interest to divert global attention from a number of present failings, the Gaza death toll, the Russia-Ukraine faceoff and the string of plane crashes that have put commercial and civil aviation industry in jeopardy, then there is nothing more hypocritical than this, now backfired, strategy.

The plan to inject fear and loathing in West and East towards the various freedom struggles in the Middle East, whether in Iraq or in Palestine, is one that banked on the old trope of ‘oriental despotism’ – a standard colonial stereotype to paint the political and foreign other as a devilish, woman-hating tyrant, from whom, the female and the feminised land, must be saved.

Therefore, imperialism and its modern-day spin in neoliberal capitalism get couched in metaphors of saving the woman and humanitarian intervention to rescue a people from its own men. While FGM is indeed a cruelty that cannot be tolerated by any civilised pocket, whether or not it has been turned into a tool of playing petty politics must be ascertained.
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