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Welcome to democracy, Egyptian-style

There isn't much room for optimism about a country whose parliament is reportedly planning to introduce a law that would allow the husbands to have sex with their deceased wives

There are some dumb laws in the Middle East. But this one will have people rolling in their graves. Literally. Or maybe, that is, romping.

A bill reportedly is planning to be introduced to the Egyptian parliament that would allow the husbands of their deceased wives to have sex with them for up to six hours after the women have died.

You might have thought this was the depraved idea of some far-left-wing liberal with no respect for religion, morality or ethics. But you would be wrong. It comes from one of the Islamist parties and it is the result of a “fatwa” issued by a cleric in Morocco.

The Moroccan cleric decreed in his fatwa that the two would reunite in Heaven anyway, so what would be the harm in having this last little romp in the saddle after the wife has died?

I always thought the most outrageous law was the one that protects men who murder their wives, their sisters or their daughters because of a rumor or a fact of infidelity has taken place.

“Honor killings” remain a major problem in the Arab, where they have codified it so that individuals charged can be released after serving the equivalent time of a few months in jail for stealing a bag of falafel from a local grocery store.

But this “one last jump” after death for Egyptian husbands is just plain outrageous.

I have also seen and heard of spouses taking pictures of their deceased spouses immediately after death. Why would someone want a morbid image of death as their last remembrance of a beloved? You might think they would want to remember their deceased loved ones by the best of memories, not the most tragic.

But who is surprised by what Egyptians might do?

Some 5,000 years ago, the Pharaohs and the rich royalty would entomb their servants along with their possessions and their mummified bodies in pyramids built by underpaid blue-keffiyeh workers – sometimes called slaves around Passover.

A history of unhealthy morbid fixation? An Egyptian mummy at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY (photo credit: CC BY-SA mamamusings, Flickr)
A history of unhealthy morbid fixation? An Egyptian mummy at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY (photo credit: CC BY-SA mamamusings, Flickr)

They would put gold masks on the casket tops, place large jars of food next to the carefully wrapped bodies and even kill and mummify the pets, too.

But having after-death sex?

The Moroccan cleric specified that the husbands only had six hours to enjoy a last moment with their dead wives. Why six hours? Is that how long Viagra is supposed to last? I’m just asking. I don’t know.

Under Islamic law, Muslims who die are usually buried within 24 hours. That’s how the Navy Seals explained why they dumped Osama Bin Laden’s body into the ocean after gunning him down in a safe-house next to the Pakistani military headquarters exactly one year ago this week.

So, basically, Egyptian Muslim women would only get about 18 remaining hours before they would have to be placed in their graves.

In many Arab countries, women are not allowed to drive. Many have a choice to wear a burqa (niqab) but far more have no choice whatsoever and can be beaten if they show their faces. Women are always cheated, and now even abused after death. They are denied the right to vote and prohibited from running for office.

And yet with all the power this leaves men, how do men in Egypt still feel the need to abuse their women?

No means no. How does a woman tell a man “no” if she is dead? Unless in Egypt, no doesn’t mean no. Or, more likely, it’s the only time a woman won’t say no. When she is on her death bed.

Some might think this entire subject matter is morbid, disgusting and unworthy of public discourse.

But someone needs to speak out for the rights of deceased women.

God knows women don’t have many rights when they are alive.

Now, we discover in Egypt, they get even less after death.

Are these the fruits of Egyptian Democracy?

Maybe Egyptians should go back to the thieving, lying and brutal dictators and tyrants that ruled their country as late as last year.

Of course, just because someone proposes a law doesn’t mean it will be adopted and become law. At least that’s the best defense Egypt’s defenders are making.

About the Author
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist and former Chicago political City Hall reporter. His father is from Jerusalem and mother from Bethlehem. A Christian, Hanania's wife, Alison, is Jewish. He has two children, Carolyn Haifa, from a previous marriage, and Aaron, who is Russian Jewish. Hanania writes regularly for Creators Syndicate on Middle East issues and for the Saudi Gazette every Sunday. He is the managing editor of The Arab Daily News online (www.TheArabDailyNews.com). During more than 35 years in journalism, he has also hosted several live radio talk shows. He performed standup comedy with the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour, lampooning his Arab-Jewish marriage, and is the author of several books including "Arabs of Chicagoland" (2005), a historical look at Arab settlement in Chicago, and “I’m Glad I Look Like a Terrorist: Growing up Arab in America” (1996, 2006), which humorously explores his experience growing up Arab in America.