Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Abandoning Muslim Women

Bad, but not surprising news from the Hudson Institute’s Anne Bayefsky about the United Nations monitoring discrimination against women. As she reports, “the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and member states expressed their opposition to the idea of setting up a new Special Rapporteur who would monitor laws that discriminate against women.”

The establishment of this “mechanism” to monitor women’s rights has been on the table since 2005, and is supported by the Secretary General’s office and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. But when the Islamic states line up against something, there’s not a snowball’s chance that it’ll get any traction.

Meanwhile, don’t look for the current U.S. administration to lead here. President Obama is concerned about women’s rights, but only a bit. He mentioned it in his recent speech in Cairo. “The sixth issue — the sixth issue that I want to address is women’s rights,” he said. Sixth?

If women’s rights had been topic No. 1, it would have made for a more ground-breaking speech. But rankings aside, defending women’s rights in Middle Eastern countries is a true post-partisan issue that progressives and conservatives agree on and thus, the type of issue President Obama is supposed to love. Indeed, some of Obama’s supporters from the Left took issue with his speech. Peter Daou criticized Obama for his empty rhetoric, the American Prospect’s Dana Goldstein agreed, while some outraged French ladies accused the President of “seeking to reconcile the United States with Muslims ‘on the backs of women.’”

Since President Obama seems unmoved by justified criticism from his right, is it too much to hope that complaints from his supporters on the Left might make a dent?