Just as it is important for Islam to present the illusion that it is a religion (it is in fact a military/political system) so also do young Muslim women in Europe fork out thousands of dollars in order to present the illusion of virginity by undergoing "hymenoplasty," - restoring of the hymen. This is no mere short-sighted pursuit of vanity - not correcting this bodily blemish will in most cases result in the poor girl's death.
I reported on this phenomenon in my post Why there are only 72 Muslim Virgins in Heaven back in June of 2006. Recent events in France have brought the issue to national attention again:
International Herald Tribune, For Muslim women in Europe, a medical road back to virginity
The issue has been particularly charged in France, where there has been a renewed and fierce debate about a prejudice that was supposed to have been buried with the country's sexual revolution 40 years ago: the importance of a woman's virginity.
The furor followed the revelation two weeks ago that a court in the northern city of Lille had annulled the 2006 marriage of two French Muslims after the groom discovered his bride was not the virgin she had claimed to be.
The domestic saga has gripped the nation. The bridegroom, an unidentified engineer in his 30s, left the nuptial bed and announced to the still-partying wedding guests that his bride had lied about her past. She was delivered that night to her parents' doorstep.
The next day, he asked a lawyer to annul the marriage. The bride, then a nursing student in her 20s, confessed the truth to the court and agreed to an annulment.
In its ruling, there was no mention of religion. Rather, it cited breach of contract, concluding that he had married her after "she was presented to him as single and chaste."
But the story does not end here, the highest-ranking person of North African descent in France and her new Minister of Justice, the Christian Dior-garbed Rachida Dati, upheld the ruling which infuriated the French public. The article continues:
In secular, republican France, the case touches on several sensitive subjects: the intrusion of religion into daily life, the grounds for dissolution of a marriage and the equality of the sexes.
There were calls in Parliament this week for the resignation of Rachida Dati, the minister of justice, after she upheld the ruling. Dati, who is a Muslim, backed down and ordered an appeal.
Some feminists, lawyers and doctors warned that the court's acceptance of the centrality of virginity in marriage would encourage more French women from Arab and African Muslim backgrounds to have their hymens rebuilt. But there is much debate over whether the procedure is an act of liberation or repression.
"The judgment was a betrayal of France's Muslim women," said Elizabeth Badinter, a feminist writer. "It sends these women a message of despair by saying that virginity is important in the eyes of the law. More women are going to say to themselves: 'My God, I'm not going to take that risk. I'll recreate my virginity."'
It should be noted that Dati herself had her marriage annulled twenty years ago:
Two decades ago Rachida Dati, a French daughter of north African immigrants, got married to a man that she barely knew. It was not quite an arranged marriage. It was a marriage "to please her family". She immediately regretted her decision. She persuaded her Algerian husband to agree to an instant annulment.
Rachida Dati was in her early twenties at the time and making her way as a young lawyer and businesswoman in Paris. Through hard work, as a law student and by taking menial jobs, she had already fought her way clear of her impoverished, immigrant family of 11 brothers and sisters just north of Lyons.
Mme Dati, 43, now finds herself at the centre of a dangerous but, in many ways, foolish, national controversy. By one of the great ironies beloved of novelists and filmmakers, the controversy turns on an annulled marriage between two young French people of north African origin.
Into this wasp's nest of sincerity, confusion and deliberate bad faith, Mme Dati innocently reached her hand. No, she said, she saw no reason why the Government should appeal against the Lille judgment. "The annulment of a marriage is a way of separating rapidly – a way of protecting someone who wishes to be free of a marriage," she said.
"I think that this young woman, for her own part, also wanted to be separated from her husband as soon as possible.
"The justice system is there to protect the weak and the modest when they are in difficulty."
No one has asked Mme Dati about her own annulled marriage. No one in the French press has tried to make a connection between the two episodes 20 years apart. It is telling, however, that Mme Dati's sympathies were with the young woman. Remembering her own narrow escape from a loveless marriage, she had perhaps, thought that the young woman was fortunate to have escaped from life with a narrow-minded, religious and sexual bigot.
Politically, however, Mme Dati's reply was a catastrophe. Everyone from the far left to Marine Le Pen on the far right piled in to accuse her of insensitivity, of lack of understanding of France's secular tradition and – implicitly – of being soft on Islam.
Finally, yesterday Mme Dati was forced to retreat. The justice ministry acknowledged that the Lille ruling had, "provoked a heated social debate". In the circumstances, it said, "the ruling could be said to have wider significance than the relationship between two individuals. It touched all citizens of our country and especially women."
Times Online, 13 Dec 2007,
Rachida Dati courts trouble in a little Dior dress
By posing in a Dior dress and high-heeled boots, President Sarkozy’s glamorous Justice Minister has fuelled a revolt by judges and lawyers who are accusing her of destroying the fabric of the French justice system.
As Rachida Dati, 42, defended herself yesterday over supposedly frivolous pictures for Paris Match magazine, 37 lawyers chained themselves to a courthouse in the southern town of Bourgoin in protest against her decision to close 300 tribunals across France.
Ms Dati, who is Mr Sarkozy’s closest protégée and Cabinet icon of racial diversity, has drawn the wrath of the legal profession since she began to prune the sprawling court system this autumn. Judges’ unions, court staff and lawyers are staging marches, hunger strikes and working to rule in order to reverse her reforms.
For many judges and lawyers, Ms Dati’s decision to flaunt her looks in Paris Match was a provocation by a woman who has shown contempt towards the hardship that she is imposing. Bruno Thouzellier, president of the Syndical Union of Judges (USM), lamented "the contrast between her show of riches, dresses by grand couturiers and grand hotels and the difficult reality that justice personnel are living through".
With Europe's largest Muslim infestation, life in France should be a lot of fun in the coming decades.