Through my own readings and research into the history of the Middle East, I learned a simple fact—the region wasn’t always this retarded. It seems that the region regressed throughout history whenever there was external influence or pressure.
The position of women in Middle Eastern societies was far better than that of their counterparts in other parts of the world. The Judaeo-Christian perception of women had no place in that region of the world, and if it did, it wasn’t as influential as it is today.
Middle Eastern women, for the most part, enjoyed a unique status within their societies. It wasn’t until the rise of feminism—in its western form—and the attempts of the western world to impose their own definitions of women’s rights on everyone else, it was then when the region regressed and attempted to define women’s roles in a new light. Unfortunately, their search didn’t derive its results from the ancient history of Arab tribes or Islam. It somehow adopted the ways of the west per-feminism; it adopted the Judeo-Christian vein. It regressed to an epoch in western history when women were considered a property and far less deserving than a second class citizen.
In the same manner, the region regressed when it came to LGBTQ rights, or the attitudes towards members of the LGBTQ community.
A quick glimpse through the sexual history of the region, one will learn the following:
1- Sexual orientation categories never existed, and in comparison to its counterparts in other regions, tolerance was present.
2- Europeans used to travel to the Middle East to live freely without the constraints of the conservative and intolerant European societies. Again, we didn’t hear of the prosecutions and violations of rights until external forces attempted to impose their own social definitions onto those societies.
3- Nevertheless, the one thing which I find most troubling and yet entertaining, as the Middle East regressed once again to fight the external pressures, it somehow found ways to adapt the previous stands, which were applied by the west against homosexuality and so on.
In no way, this is an attempt to blame Christianity or Judaism for the retardation of a whole region, because they are woven in the fabric of the region and its history. They originated in the region. However, religious institutions—all religious institutions—have played a role in diverting the collective attitudes towards many issues without any basis in religious texts.