When Alaska Governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin met with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at the United Nations, the meeting was friendly, with Zardari calling Palin "gorgeous," and telling her "Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you."
He also made remarks about hugging Palin if his handlers told him to.
These comments outraged a "radical religious leader, enough to issue a fatwa, which according to the dictionary means an Islamic religious decree.
The mosque that issued the fatwa was the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad, and the religious leaders comments about Zardari accuses him of "indecent gestures, filthy remarks, and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt," according to the Christian Science Monitor.
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.
The religious leaders wasn't the only one offended by Zardari's words, albeit for different reasons, feminists also took issue with him, not for "cozying up" to Sarah Palin but for what they perceived as "sexist remarks" towards her.
A member of the Women's Action Forum, Tahira Abdullah, says "As a Pakistani and as a woman, it was shameful and unacceptable. He was looking upon her merely as a woman and not as a politician in her own right."
While Abdullah called the religious leader who issued the fatwa "ranting", she also goes on to offer her own criticism against Zardari, stating "He should show some decorum – if he loved his wife so much as to press for a United Nations investigation into her death, he should behave like a mourning widower," referring to former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated on December 27, 2007.
Others saw nothing wrong with the exchanges between Palin and Zardari, with columnist Fasih Ahmed in the Daily Times writing "It was a sweet and innocuous exchange played as an international incident on Pakistani and rascally Indian front-pages with one English daily [writing] it in a scarlet box, half-implying Mrs. Palin would ditch Alaska's First Dude and become Pakistan's First Babe. As if."
Still others think there are more important things to worry about other than how politicians behave.
I gather from all accounts, the world leaders were mighty impressed with Palin, they found her likable, pleasant and for those who claim to be s worried about other countries "liking us", well they should be happy with how her UN meetings went.
Think they are?