Saturday, April 10, 2010

Modern Romance

From Amy Davidson at the Close Read blog:
Sania Mirza, India’s top woman tennis player ever, and Shoaib Malik, the former captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, announced their engagement last week. Mirza has been honored many times by the Indian government, and so the notion that she’d somehow become Pakistani made people mad; she was labelled a traitor, and their were calls for her to return prizes and never play for her country again, and pleas that she abandon her wedding plans. The Pakistani press, as Foreign Policys AfPak blog noted, acted as though their country had won a prize. But that was just the warm-up. Another woman, named Ayesha Siddiqui, came forward, saying that Malik couldn't marry Mirza because he was already married to her. Malik said that he’d never met her; then he said that, while he’d never met her, he had, indeed, married her over the telephone, except that he didn’t really consider himself married, not so much because of the never-meeting-telephone-ceremony part—which several clerics stepped forward to say was legitimate, setting off a debate about Islam and technology—but because the pictures she’d sent of herself over the Internet weren’t really of her, raising an interesting epistemological question about voices, faces, identity, and recognition.

The Hyderabad police were called in. A fatwa was issued. “Wedding-night bedclothes” were reportedly produced. And much, much more. In the end, Malik agreed to divorce Ayesha, he and Mirza moved up the wedding—it’s tonight—and the South Asian papers turned to the important question of what she would wear.

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