A Shame

Shame, Islam, and the West:

Arts & Letters Daily has a link to a piece from World Affairs Journal, on the subject of foreign women traveling or living in the lands of Islam. For the most part, it is just as bad as you'd expect. Female US Soldiers seem to be treated respectfully in Iraq, in my experience, but they are in uniform and armed, and accompanied by other soldiers who are likewise armed. When our women are traveling alone and unarmed, things are not the same.

A couple of the interviews were worse than I expected. What makes these cases worse is that we were worse.

Here is what happened to her in Kabul—and it’s essential to remember this occurred decades before the Taliban made life for women completely intolerable. Chesler’s American passport was confiscated at the airport: she never saw it again. Her young “bohemian” husband became, as she notes, “another person”: cold and distant, a sometime defender of polygamy (his father, to Chesler’s surprise, had three wives) and champion of the veil. Chesler quickly discovered that “Afghans mistrusted foreign wives”—and her walks around the city, invariably barefaced and without the long coat or gloves urged on her by her in-laws, made her the target of lewd advances and crude insults. When she fled to the American embassy, “the Marines would bring me back home every time,” she recalls. “I was the wife of a foreign national. I had lost my citizenship.”
That was forty-five years ago. This was only nineteen years ago:
Undeterred, in 1990 she returned to Saudi Arabia, gathered her children, and brought them to the U.S. Embassy. At which point, as The Wall Street Journal reported well over a decade later, embassy Marines were summoned to expel the family from the premises. The Saudi authorities had an even more effective solution: they arrested Stowers. She left the country. But at 12 years old, her daughter was still languishing in Saudi Arabia, married off to a cousin.
America betrayed its duty to Ms. Stowers and her daughter in 1990. It has tried to make up for it. The President of the United States personally addressed the issue in a meeting with Prince Bandar in 2002. Congressman Dan Burton apparently took up the matter of Ms. Stowers in 2003. He met with the daughter, who at that time was 19.
Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana has been investigating why Monica Stowers and other American mothers have not been helped by their own government.

“The State Department, in my opinion, for the past 10-15-20 years, has not done their job properly,” says Burton. “Every Embassy in the world, every consulate in the world ought to be a safe haven for American citizens.”

Last August, Burton led a U.S. delegation to Saudi Arabia. They were armed with a list of 35 American kids he says have been kidnapped from their mothers....

It took more than a decade, and a dogged congressman, before an exit visa was finally issued just days before Burton's committee arrived. But for Amjad, the visa may have come too late.

It turns out that two weeks before Burton's trip, Amjad's father arranged a marriage for her to a 42-year-old Saudi military officer who already had a wife and five children. He sat right next to Amjad when she met with Burton.

“She told me she wants to come to America. She said that to me at least 10-15 times. But then she looked at him and said ‘But not now,’” says Burton. “All you could see was her eyes and she was crying.”
The State Department could easily have done its duty in 1990, instead of ordering the United States Marines to expel from US territory citizens they should have been sworn to protect. Congressman Burton's resolution defining that duty for their future reference may be read here. Because they did not do their duty when they had the chance, neither the President nor Congress has been able to make things right.

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