This may be the ultimate blow against Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and ought to have him raging in his cave or perhaps spinning in his grave. His niece Wafah is posing nude in next month’s GQ, providing the ultimate slap in the face to the entire brand of fundamentalist Islam which bin Laden and his followers stand for.
Wafah bin Laden had begun a career as an aspiring pop-singer when her uncle’s followers launched their assault on America. She almost immediately found her career stillborn because of her use of the family name, which made her popular only as a curiosity and not for her talent. She tried changing her name and carrying on under her mother’s maiden name as Wafah Dufour, but after a couple of years in New York City she hadn’t made as much progress as he hoped, so like a lot of hopeful performers she decided to cash in on her physical charms to advance her career. For Madonna and Dr. Laura and Sylvester Stallone this meant posing nude or appearing in a skin flick, but when you’re Osama’s niece someone is going to be willing to pay more money and provide higher profile exposure for your naked pictures.
So it is that Wafah Dufour is appearing naked or very close to naked in the January issue of GQ which should have just hit the stands. You may say that this is just another case of an ambitious young girl allowing herself to be sexually exploited, but in this instance there’s a lot more involved because of her family connections. This makes her very un-fundamentalist behavior take on a greater significance, and makes her actions a statement of liberation for Islamic women and a blow against the sexual repression promoted by Osama’s followers, or at least that’s how many are interpreting it.
Wafah is also putting her life at risk just by doing this, because fundamentalist clerics associated with Osama have been known to issue Fatwas for offenses far less significant than this from people who are less prominent than she is. The punishment among fundamentalist moslems for this sort of behavior is to be stoned to death, and while that’s probably impractical in Manhattan, Fatwas aren’t usually specific about mode of death. Earlier this year a group of clerics issued a Fatwa for immodesty against Indian tennis star Sania Mirza for wearing tennis outfits which were too revealing. If that troubled them, Wafah Dufour’s higher profile near total exposure is going to drive them positively nuts.
Of course, Wafah is very lucky that she has the physical assets and the American passport which make this kind of opportunity available to her. A lot of women trapped in fundamentalist Islamic societies would be happy just to have the ability to reveal their hair and faces in public. Merely possessing a copy of GQ is a criminal offense in Saudi Arabia, but I bet that more than a few copies will be circulating in secret. You can hide a lot more than your body under a burka.