From today's online Australian:
Edited transcript of Sheik Hilali's speech
This is an edited transcript, by SBS translator Dalia Mattar, of Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali's speech
October 27, 2006
" ... when it comes to adultery, it's 90 per cent the women's responsibility. Why? Because a woman possesses the weapon of seduction. It is she who takes off her clothes, shortens them, flirts, puts on make-up and powder and takes to the streets, God protect us, dallying. It's she who shortens, raises and lowers. Then it's a look, then a smile, then a conversation, a greeting, then a conversation, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay jail. ...
"But when it comes to this disaster, who started it? In his literature, scholar al-Rafihi says: 'If I came across a rape crime – kidnap and violation of honour – I would discipline the man and order that the woman be arrested and jailed for life.' Why would you do this, Rafihi? He says because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn't have snatched it."
"If you take a kilo of meat, and you don't put it in the fridge or in the pot or in the kitchen but you leave it on a plate in the backyard, and then you have a fight with the neighbour because his cats eat the meat, you're crazy. Isn't this true?
"If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.
"If the meat was covered, the cats wouldn't roam around it. If the meat is inside the fridge, they won't get it.
"If the meat was in the fridge and it (the cat) smelled it, it can bang its head as much as it wants, but it's no use.
"If the woman is in her boudoir, in her house and if she's wearing the veil and if she shows modesty, disasters don't happen.
From The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (eds Preminger and Brogan, 1993):
'The most revered form of simile is the epic simile, a lengthy comparison between two highly complex objects, actions or relations.'
The epic simile is a bloody hard thing for a writer to sustain successfully because every element of it has to make sense. It's like a sort of fable or short allegory -- think Animal Farm where every creature and action and all the relationships among them are standing in for the 'real' situation. Each substition or comparison -- Snowball=Trotsky, sheep=Teh Masses, farm=Russia etc etc -- has to fit logically with all the others, if you want to create a coherent narrative and second tier of meaning.
Never mind, for the moment, Sheik Hilali's demented world view; let's have a look at his speechwriting abilities. For a start it's not even an original image; he's paraphrasing al-Rahifi. But has he chosen well here? Is it a good, successful, rhetorically effective figure of speech?
If the women are the meat, then all those sexually incontinent men must be the cats, right?
So here's what I want to know. If the women are the meat and the men are the cats, then who are these cat-owners and neighbours? Is there some sinister extra dimension to this little fairytale that I'm not picking up? Or is it just incoherent as well as repulsive?
Be afraid. Be very afraid.