"Can Women's Rights Coexist With the Tenets of Islamic Law?" [usnews.com] got it partly right: "to veil or not to veil" is hardly the question, but he failed to mention the landmark progress achieved for women in Morocco.
Not only did King Mohammed VI's proposals emerge after considerable public discussion among many diverse elements of Morocco's civil society, they passed Parliament with the support of a broad coalition of members, including the Islamist PJD party. Directly to the author's question of compatibility of Islamic and universal values, every one of Morocco's reforms was grounded in Koranic texts specifically to demonstrate that the accordance of equal rights to women is compatible with Islam. This was a triumph not only for Morocco, but for women everywhere in the Muslim world, and serves as a model for those who seek to accomplish in their own countries what Morocco has shown to be possible. With respect to the response to 9/11 "from Morocco to Indonesia" ["Why Did So Many Muslims Seem to Celebrate 9/11?" usnews.com], it should be noted that the Moroccan King immediately convened an enormous solidarity service in the cathedral in Rabat. Moroccans have no sympathy for Osama bin Laden, themselves having been subjected to a bloody terrorist attack in Casablanca in May 2003. That tragic event precipitated nearly a million Moroccans pouring immediately into the streets to protest such barbaric behavior, and youth groups from the nation's poorest neighborhoods led the way carrying signs of a red Hand of Fatima that read "hands off my country." Articles that treat the entire Arab-Muslim world as a monolith do not contribute to our understanding of this diverse set of countries and peoples. Rather, such pieces damage our ability to understand each other by reinforcing the inaccurate misconceptions held by both sides.
Robert M. Holley
Moroccan American Center for Policy