Flirting with Palin earns Pakistani president a fatwa
With some overly friendly comments to Gov. Sarah Palin at the United Nations, Asif Ali Zardari has succeeded in uniting one of Pakistan's hard-line mosques and its feminists after a few weeks in office.
A radical Muslim prayer leader said the president shamed the nation for "indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt."
Feminists charged that once again a male Pakistani leader has embarrassed the country with sexist remarks. And across the board, the Pakistani press has shown disapproval.
What did President Zardari do to draw such scorn? It might have been the "gorgeous" compliment he gave Ms. Palin when the two met at the UN last week during her meet-and-greet with foreign leaders ahead of Thursday's vice presidential debate with opponent Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
But the comments from Zardari didn't end there. He went on to tell Palin: "Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you."
"You are so nice," replied the Republican vice presidential hopeful, smiling. "Thank you."
But what may have really caused Pakistan's radical religious leaders to stew was his comment that he might "hug" Palin if his handler insisted.
Though the fatwa, issued days after the Sept. 24 exchange, carries little weight among most Pakistanis, it's indicative of the anger felt by Pakistan's increasingly assertive conservatives who consider physical contact and flattery between a man and woman who aren't married to each other distasteful. Though fatwas, or religious edicts, can range from advice on daily life to death sentences, this one does not call for any action or violence.