Herald Sun, by Rita Panahi, April 16, 2017:
IT’S hard to imagine anything more ludicrous than two Muslim women trying to defend their faith against claims of misogyny, by discussing the implements that husbands can use to beat their misbehaving wives and describing the abuse as “a beautiful blessing”.
Striking a blow for women’s rights everywhere, the women demonstrated the correct manner in which they should be hit and the type of tools appropriate for the job, including a small stick.
If it was a comedy skit it would bring the house down, but sadly what was posted on Facebook by the Women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia was a serious discussion that served only to show the deep gulf that exists between devout adherents of the Koran and the Australian mainstream.
Atika Latifi was keen to dispel the notion that Islam has a women problem. She did that by advising the veiled female audience in Lakemba, and those watching the video, that wives who display “disobedience to the husband” can be hit, but only after being scolded and deprived of sex: “Advise them first; leave them alone in bed; and hit them. He is permitted, not obliged, not encouraged, but permitted to hit her. That is what everyone is talking about. It should not cause pain. Not harsh.”
Fellow panellist Reem Allouche, who disturbingly identifies herself as a primary school teacher, agreed that a husband disciplining his wife could “promote tranquillity” and that “Islam is not gender biased”.
Allouche told the audience that a husband could hit his wife if she strayed from the teachings of the Koran because “he loves his wife, he fears for his wife, it’s almost a natural consequence”.
Feeling empowered yet, ladies?
It’s easy to dismiss Hizb ut-Tahrir as extremists whose views are not shared by the wider Muslim community, but the fact remains that the discussion between Allouche and Latifi came after prominent Muslim leader Keysar Trad caused outage by saying husbands could hit their wives “as a last resort” if buying chocolates and flowers didn’t fix the problem.
It’s also worth remembering it was Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Wassim Doureihi that ABC host Yassmin Abdel-Magied sought advice from after her appearance on Q&A, where she claimed that Islam was “the most feminist religion”.
Yet there are no outraged feminists, Muslim or otherwise, aiming at the group’s meetings and lectures. The courageous Ayaan Hirsi Ali — herself a victim of FGM, who campaigns for subjugated women in the Muslim world — was a target of Australian feminists but the hate preaching of Hizb ut-Tahrir doesn’t result in online video campaigns or street protests.
Trad, often presented as the moderate spokesmen for the Muslim community, is president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils and a married father of nine who has spoken openly about his desire to take a second wife. Displaying incredible chutzpah, Trad was on Nine News to condemn the attitude of the women in the video. But simply attacking the women and ignoring the problematic passages in the Koran is too convenient.
If we are serious about tackling such viewpoints then we must look deeper at the belief system that not only permits but encourages this type of submission.
A statement by the Australian Muslim Collaborative claimed that “Islam categorically prohibits and denounces the abuse of women” and “any promotion of violence is against the spirit and letter of Islam”. But anyone familiar with history and the Koran would snicker at that.
Sheik Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, is one of the most influential scholars in the world and is among many Islamic theologians who are clear about how the Koran’s teachings about husbands disciplining wives should be interpreted.
“It is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive areas,” Al-Qaradawi explains.
“To be specific, one may beat only to safeguard Islamic behaviour and if he sees deviation only in what she must do or obey in relation to him.”
The AMC statement was signed by 30 prominent Muslims, including the president of the Australian National Imams Council, Sheikh Shady Alsuleiman, who in the past has expressed disturbing views about women, homosexuals and jihad, and The Project host and “terrorism expert” Waleed Aly who, despite being a lecturer at Monash University’s Global Terrorism Research Centre, speculated that the Boston bombings were the work of homegrown “American patriots” and seems bewildered about what motivates the Islamist terrorists of Boko Haram.
It’s extraordinary that Sheik Shady, who has said AIDS is a divine punishment for homosexuals, women should be “hung by their breasts in hell” and those guilty of adultery should be stoned to death, is judging the women in the video.
It’s also perverse that at a time when efforts to combat domestic violence see preschoolers exposed to contentious gender theories in the hope that they don’t one day become perpetrators or victims of violence against women, we have clear examples of ugly, problematic attitudes all but ignored by activists.
The Left’s disdain for the values that underpin Western secular democracies sees them continually give cover to Islamists. They would do well to heed Hirsi Ali’s words: “Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.”