Analogies are useful ways to explain complex phenomena, usually by placing the phenomena in another context. For example, comparing war to sports (and vice versa) is a favorite tactic. Comparing the last days of the insurgency to the death throes of a dying man is another. Here, a Muslim cleric in Australia compared an unveiled woman to “uncovered meat:”
“[Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali was] quoted in the Australian newspaper as saying in the sermon: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside … without cover, and the cats come to eat it … whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s… The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred,” he was quoted as saying, referring to the headdress worn by some Muslim women.
Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali denied he was condoning rape when he made the comments in a sermon last month, and said Australian women were free to dress as they wished.”
The analogy sparked outrage, but not because Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali compared women to meat, but because of the implications. He suggests in the analogy that men are like cats; without an ounce of willpower when confronted with unguarded meat.
“Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward said Hilali’s comment was an incitement to rape and that Australia’s Muslims should force him to stand down. She also called for the Egyptian-born cleric who arrived in Australia in 1982 from Lebanon to be deported.
“This is inciting young men to a violent crime because it is the woman’s fault,” Goward told television’s Nine Network. “It is time the Islamic community did more than say they were horrified. I think it is time he left.” Prime Minister John Howard also rejected the comments as unacceptable.”
Thus, analogies can be useful. However, the analogy maker must accept full responsibility for all the ties between the actual situation and the analogy. Perhaps the Shiek didn’t think this one through well enough.