Women’s oppression in Bosnian cosmopolitan areas is probably similar to women’s oppression in…
Pedro Carrion
1

I’d argue that religiosity is not incompatible with a pluralistic cosmopolitanism. What Jonathan Bowman calls “cosmoipolitanism” (cosmoi is the plural of cosmos) might be the better label, as we move forward into a postsecular era. A strong, liberal Islamic culture can exist within a secular state and retain its character as distinctively Islamic, not somehow watered down or corrupted (presumably for the better) by benefiting from secular advancements.

I can’t say anything about Bosnian women outside of the cities, where families and neighbors are likely to be oppressors — but that’s not religious so much as the local culture, it’s the local interpretation and not the text per se. The Islamic text certainly lends itself most easily to fundamentalist interpretations, but that’s the nature of fundamentalism. Most of the older Judaic and Christian texts are the same in this regard.

By the same reasoning, if Israel succumbed to a radical fundamentalist political wing and started up all kinds of human rights abuses, you could claim that all Jewish states will always oppress their Arab residents. Is there no chance for peaceful coexistence? If there is any chance for Jews and Palestinians, and I believe that we are all human enough that it’s possible, then there can also be a chance for a liberal Islam and a relatively conservative feminism to coexist.

A nationally dominant religion and a group oppressed by its fundamentalist interpretations can coexist without oppression if fundamentalism, not the religion, is culturally abandoned. Gays and Christians, too.

I still think Bosnia is the best model of liberal Islam we have, culturally, and it deserves more attention for that fact alone.