The Poisoned Veil: Are Muslim Women’s Rights Worth Fighting For?

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I am pleased to announce that Brad O’ Leary has written this exhaustively researched book on the oppression of women under sharia using, in part, archives from the Counter  Jihad Report. This is the value of a counter jihad news aggregation site for writers and researchers.

In the introducton O’Leary states his reason for writing the book:

I am writing this book because I have six daughters, six grand-daughters, and four great-grandaughters. I don’t want them to become socially or emotionally involved, date, or go into business with people who have brought values with them that are inconsistent with the values my daughters and grand-daughters fought for and won, which is basically the quality and  the personal power as females to decide their lives based on their own views, not someone else’s views.

The book includes some interesting polling data on attitudes in the United States towards some aspects of sharia that O’Leary commissioned in conjunction with Zogby Analytics. The book views the Islamic reform movement favorably and is in favor of a Donald Trump presidency for his stance on immigration. The resource section at the end of the book is impressive. I can recommend this book for anyone looking for a comprehensive and personal analysis on Islam, sharia and Muslim immigration issues.

Press Release:

Flawed vetting process and language barriers bring immigration problems

AUSTIN, TX – 9/27/2016 (PRESS RELEASE JET) — An informative and controversial new book called The Poisoned Veil: Are Muslim Women’s Rights Worth Fighting For? is the 27th by the author, Bradley S. O’Leary.  The book points out that if immigration is indeed increased to 100-200,000, more money has to be spent for the vetting process to hire more Arabic-speaking citizens and females who speak Arabic because most Muslim families won’t allow the female member to be interviewed by a man.

Many of the families coming from the Middle East have lived under political leadership or in a society that has legalized many of the problems outlined in the book. In America, many of these practices are crimes, and Mr. O’Leary gives us suggestions on how to improve the vetting process so women coming into the United States can understand their new rights and privileges, while teaching the men how to live with equality in our democracy.

The book explores Islam and Sharia law in its oppressiveness to women and denial of equal rights with men. It looks at its approval of honor beatings and killings. The law denies women’s voices, keeps them segregated, forbids equal rights and the freedom to work, seek education or have any independent freedoms at all. They are hidden behind a veil and forced to do whatever men demand.

The book delves into the following issues, many of which are crimes under American law:
-the demand for a woman to accept a forced marriage
-the laws which allow Muslim men to have up to four wives and to marry girls as young as ten
-the interpretation of a Muslim man’s right to physically enforce his will on his wife or children
-the barbaric practice of forcing young girls to be subjected to female genital mutilation, or sexual blinding, an act that has been condemned by the United Nations and Western governments, but is allowed and supported by Muslim religious leaders
-the logic behind why a woman’s voice isn’t worth the same as a man’s in court
-the problems nations in Europe and around the world have in blindly accepting Islamic refugees
-the solutions to protect Islamic women from these atrocities

The book is published by Boru Books and is available on Amazon, Kindle and CreateSpace.

Media Contacts:

Company Name: Boru Books
Full Name: Bradley O’Leary
Phone: 3108046957
Email Address: bradoleary@aol.com
Website: www.thepoisonedveil.com

“Violent extremists” do not target women for special subjugation. Islamist groups do.

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The UN’s insistence on treating “violent extremism” as if it were a unified problem leads to all manner of absurd results, especially when it tries to talk about the threat such groups pose to women’s rights.

CounterJihad, Sept. 12, 2016:

A UN panel meeting in Brazil argued that “violent extremist groups” worldwide are eroding women’s rights especially:

Militant groups from Boko Haram in Nigeria to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria target women in their attacks on human rights, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the head of the United Nations’ women’s advocacy agency, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.

“Fundamentalists have an issue with women. They are most cruel against women,” she said. “Fundamentalism is a major burden for women, and it takes away the security of women more than anything else.”…  She cited the example of the Yazidi people of northern Iraq, where women and girls have been brutalized at the hands of the Islamic State. The jihadist group has targeted women with particular cruelty including rape and sex slavery, she said.

She also cited the case of women and girls at the hands of Boko Haram… In the group’s most high-profile attack of April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school in Chibok in northeast Borno state.

Her examples go to show just why the UN’s approach to “Countering Violent Extremism” is unwise and unworkable.  Running all these groups together means eliding essential differences that prevent us from getting at the real causes of the violence.

It is simply not true that “violent extremist” groups per se have an issue with women.  Consider the Philippines, which hosts a number of violent extremist groups.  Some of them are Islamists, such as Abu Sayyaf, which has pledged fealty to the Islamic State (ISIS).  Others are Communists, especially Maoists.  Not all Maoists in the Philippines are violent extremists, but those that are have bled the country white at times.  Nevertheless, gender equality is formally one of the Maoist issues.  This is not unique:  Communist movements throughout the history of the ideology have thought of ‘patriarchy’ as another form of structural oppression almost exactly analogous to the worker/owner relationship.  Yet the Maoists are  not immune to violent extremism, and in fact are some of the most violent extremists of all.  (Especially Mao himself, who may have killed sixty million people in his lifetime, ten times as many as Hitler.)

What is the sense of running Communist terrorists in with Islamist ones?  What do they have in common?

One of the frequent talking points of the left in America is that not all terrorists are Muslims.  This is perfectly correct as a matter of evidence:  the FBI’s numbers suggest that from 1980-2005, 42% of terrorist attacks in America were carried out by Hispanic/Latino organizations such as drug cartels.  Radical left wing groups including Communists carried out another thirty percent of terrorist attacks in that period.  In Europe, meanwhile, the vast majority of terrorist attacks are ethnic separatist groups desiring independence from some central government.*

Are these groups especially hostile to women?  No, again.  Ethnic separatist groups are likely to revere their women as essential to the survival of their nation.  Communists, as noted, treat gender equality as a core issue.  It is only the Islamists who justify sex-slavery of women taken in battle, forced marriages, and in Africa, forced genital mutilation.

The CVE standard is senseless.  Running all of these organizations together leads to weak thinking and bad conclusions about how to address the various threats that they represent.  You cannot solve the drug cartel terror problem while treating them as if they were exactly the same as some Communist organization.  Neither of them are like ISIS.  Why are they fighting, and what are they fighting for?  In the case of a recent study on ISIS volunteers, the answers were clear:

“All, with some consistency, calmly reiterate their desire to achieve martyrdom, and celebrate the martyrdom of others. But they scrupulously asserted that their fate is in the hands of Allah.”

“…most of the fighters we interviewed provided justifications for being a foreign fighter that were largely moral and religious in character, more than explicitly political.”

“…the interactions we recorded are laced with comments about the need to be strict in observing the differences between true Muslims and others.”

These things may look similar, but they are not alike.  Any solution to the problems Islamist groups pose toward the rights of women needs to take into account the treatment of women under this Islamist vision.  That starts with sharia and its structures of oppression, whether you like it or not.

*Note that what is being counted here are number of incidents only.  If we adopted instead “number of casualties” as the standard, Muslim terrorism in America would be by far the worst kind because of the 9/11 murders alone.  Likewise, we might want to be more interested in terrorist attacks on innocents — again, like 9/11 — rather than terrorist attacks targeting a cartel’s rivals in the drug trade.  On either picture, Islamist violence looks worse than the raw number of attacks indicates.  It is only if we take each incidence of terrorism as equally bad that we get this particular picture of the threat.

A Famous Feminist Weighs in on the Burkini Affair

Phyllis Chesler

MEF, Arutz Sheva
September 1, 2016

Originally published under the title “Q & A: Burqas and Burquinis: A Famous Feminist Weighs in on the Burquini Affair.”

Does a democratic government have the right to legislate what women wear?

Phyllis Chesler: In my view, ideally, neither a government nor a woman’s family, both of which are patriarchal entitles, should have the right to legislate what a woman can and cannot wear. It is therefore very dispiriting that so many Western “progressives,” including feminists, are rushing to uphold Sharia’ law and increasingly reactionary Islamist interpretations of the Islamic Veil, (mainly the face mask and full face and body covering), even as they remain silent about the Shari’a based persecution of Christians, homosexuals, Yazidis–and Israelis–by those Muslims who are barbaric Jihadists. Even more ironic, is their relative silence about how freedom-loving Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents, including feminists, are being severely subordinated, tortured, and murdered by Muslim Islamists.

In my opinion, as long as any woman can be beaten, death-threatened, or honor/horror murdered in the West because she refuses to wear any version of the Islamic Veil—for this reason alone, the Western democracies should consider banning it. Doing so, will not protect us from Islamic terrorist attacks nor will it necessarily help foster integration—two very essential priorities, but it may help save the lives of women living in Western-style democracies.

Aqsa ParvezSuch bans concern women’s human and civil rights; her right to sunlight, (without which she will contract all the diseases associated with a Vitamin D deficiency); her right to see, hear, and walk—or swim—easily; her right to be comfortable in the heat by wearing light-weight clothing; her right to see and be clearly identified by others in the public square or at work.

Banning the Islamic Veil is one way of refusing to collaborate with such barbaric misogyny.

There is another reason a ban on the Islamic Veil might be essential. Remember the alarmingly high rates of Muslim male gang-gropes and gang-rapes of naked-faced women all over Europe, both infidel and Muslim? Not wearing the Islamic Veil (burqa, chador, niqab, hijab) is often interpreted as: “The woman is fair game, she’s a prostitute.” Thus, wearing Islamic head, face, and body-gear targets those women who are not “covered.” And, by the way, many “covered” women have, nevertheless, been assaulted anyway.

Does a democratic, post-Enlightenment government have the right to extend the rule of law to all its citizens, including female or immigrant citizens? I’d say that it has the absolute moral and legal obligation to do so.

So what is your problem with the burquini?

On the one hand, this is a false issue. Far more important is finding Islamic terrorists before they attack in Paris, Nice, Brussels, and elsewhere in Europe. Far more important is naming, fighting, and winning the War of Ideas, the Islamic religious war against Western freedoms which has led to terrorist attacks. Far more important, is either finding ways of integrating non-hostile immigrants or of stopping “the hostiles” at the border.

burkiniMy concern with the burkini as follows: It does not seem all that comfortable to be swimming in so much yardage; it is not safe to have one’s ears blocked while swimming either. Not to be able to feel the water directly against one’s skin is equivalent to wearing a monk’s hair shirt. Women are not being permitted the simple God-given pleasures of our sensory beings. Why? What crime have women committed to be so punished?

What about haredi women’s burquini type swimsuits?

I fully support modesty as a woman’s choice. That is the difference. I believe that reasonable modesty is a woman’s choice–and a sane one given the world in which we live. I oppose unreasonable modesty that is also unsafe and uncomfortable.

Why do you think France made an issue of this when there is so much other Muslim evidence of takeover? (Maybe they are afraid of doing anything else, as Giulio Meotti has written, and this is their weak and symbolic way to ‘fight’ Islamization.)

Perhaps Giulio is right and yet, France has a long tradition of “secularism” or lacite. They have banned the hijb in certain settings (schools, government offices), and they’ve banned the burqa (or face mask) entirely. Banning the burkini is just another such challenge on the long and difficult road to integration.

The burquini and the burqa are also on a continuum of demands and challenges which face Europe and America. It is not an isolated instance in which foreign cultural norms are being injected into Western culture. Where does it stop?

Female genital mutilation, polygamy, child marriage, honor based violence and honor/horror killing have dared the West to stop such gender apartheid practices; attacks on infidels, especially Jews in Europe, are another such attempt to import religious apartheid from the Muslim world. The demand for halal food in public, secular schools, demanding that Muslim holidays be recognized as if they were national holidays, etc., are part of this continuum.

Praying, eating halal food, taking holidays, is not the problem. Acting as if such observances are sanctioned by the state which, in the West is separate from religion, is the problem.

Prager U Video: Why Don’t Feminists Fight for Muslim Women

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Ayaan Hirsi Ali on why this matters more than ever.

Truth Revolt, June 27, 2016:

Are women oppressed in Muslim countries? What about in Islamic enclaves in the West? Are these places violating or fulfilling the Quran and Islamic law?

In Prager University’s newest video, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an author and activist who was raised a devout Muslim, describes the human rights crisis of our time, asks why feminists in the West don’t seem to care, and explains why immigration to the West from the Middle East means this issue matters more than ever.

Check out the short video above. Transcript below:

Culture matters. It ‘s the primary source of social progress or regression. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the status of women. The Judeo-Christian culture — and perhaps a more apt word is civilization — has produced over time the law codes, language and material prosperity that have greatly elevated women’s status.

But this progress is not shared everywhere.

There are still hundreds of millions of people that live in a culture  — the Islamic, for instance — that takes female inferiority for granted. Until recently, these cultures — the Western and the Islamic — were, for the most part, separated. But that is changing. Dramatically so.

Large numbers of immigrant men from the Middle East, South Asia and various parts of Africa have brought a different set of values to the West, specifically Europe.  More than a million arrived in 2015 alone. More are on the way.

As a result, crimes against girls and women — groping, harassments, assaults and rape – have risen sharply. These crimes illustrate the stark difference between the Western culture of the victims and that of the perpetrators.

Let me be clear: not all immigrant men, or even most, indulge in sex attacks or approve of such attacks, but it’s a grave mistake to deny that the value system of the attackers is radically different from the value system of the West. In the West women are emancipated and sexually autonomous. Religiosity and sexual behavior or sexual restraint is determined by women’s individual wishes. The other value system is one in which women are viewed as either commodities (that is, their worth depends on their virginity), or on the level of a prostitute if they are guilty of public “immodesty” (wearing a short skirt for example).

I do not believe these value systems can coexist. The question is which value system will prevail. Unfortunately, this remains an open question.

The current situation in Europe is deeply troubling: not only are Muslim women within Europe subject to considerable oppression in many ways, such norms now risk spreading to non-Muslim women who face harassment from Muslim men.

One would think that Western feminists in the United States and Europe would be very disturbed by this obvious misogyny.  But sadly, with few exceptions, this does not appear to be the case.

Common among many Western feminists is a type of moral confusion, in which women are said to be oppressed everywhere and that this oppression, in feminist Eve Ensler’s words, is “exactly the same” around the world, in the West just as in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

To me, this suggests too much moral relativism and an inadequate understanding of Shariah law.  It is true that the situation for women in the West is not perfect, but can anyone truly deny that women enjoy greater freedom and opportunities in the United States, France and Finland than they do in Iran, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia?

Other feminists have also argued that non-Western women do not need “saving” and that any suggestion that they “need” help from Western feminists is insulting and condescending to non-Western women.

My perspective is a practical one: any efforts that help Muslim women — whether they live in the West or under Islamic governments should be encouraged. Every effort to pressure these governments to change unjust laws should be supported.

Western feminists — and female Western leaders — have a simple choice to make: either excuse the inexcusable, or demand reform in cultures and religious doctrines that continue to oppress women.

Nothing illustrates this better than what happened in Cologne, Germany on New Years Eve, 2015. That night, during the city’s traditional celebrations, numerous German women (467 at the last count) reported being sexually harassed or assaulted by men of North African and Arab origin. Within two months, 73 suspects had been identified — most of them from North Africa; 12 of them have been linked to sexual crimes. Yet, in response to the attacks, Cologne’s feminist Mayor Henriette Reker issued an “arm’s length” guideline to women. ” Just keep an arm’s length distance between you and a mob of Arab men, she advised Cologne’s female population, and you will be fine.

Mayor Reker’s comments underline the seriousness of the problem: a culture clash is upon us. The first step in resolving it is to unapologetically defend the values that have allowed women to flourish. Feminists with their organizations, networks and lobbying power need to be on the front lines on this battle. Their relevance depends on it. And so does the well being of countless women, Western and non-Western.

I’m Ayaan Hirsi Ali of Harvard University for Prager University.

SIGN THE PETITION! Demand that feminist activists fight for Muslim women! https://goo.gl/MmS1kq

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Steve Coughlin drills down on the facts of Islamic law that Islam apologists either aren’t aware of or, in the case of stealth jihadists, purposely try to hide.

Responding to Muslim deceptions 1 Honour killings and innocence MRCTV:

Published on Jun 29, 2016 Vlad Tepes

UK: Sharia Courts Abusing Muslim Women

Gatestone Institute, by Soeren Kern, April 8, 2015:

The report shows how the increasing influence of Sharia law in Britain today is undermining the fundamental principle that there must be equality for all British citizens under a single law of the land.

“I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from.” — Muslim woman interviewed for the report.

The report concludes by calling on the British government to launch a judge-led inquiry to “determine the extent to which discriminatory Sharia law principles are being applied within the UK.”

“The government’s response will be a litmus test of the extent to which it genuinely upholds the principle of equality before the law or is so dominated by the fear of ‘giving offense’ that it will continue to allow these women to suffer in ways which would make our suffragettes turn in their graves.” — Baroness Caroline Cox.

Muslim women across Britain are being systematically oppressed, abused and discriminated against by Sharia law courts that treat women as second-class citizens, according to a new report, which warns against the spiraling proliferation of Islamic tribunals in the United Kingdom.

The 40-page report, “A Parallel World: Confronting the Abuse of Many Muslim Women in Britain Today,” was authored by Baroness Caroline Cox, a cross-bench member of the British House of Lords and one of the leading defenders of women’s rights in the UK.

The report shows how the increasing influence of Sharia law in Britain today is undermining the fundamental principle that there must be equality for all British citizens under a single law of the land.

The Arbitration Act of 1996 allows parties to resolve certain civil disputes according to Sharia principles in such a way that the decision can be enforced in British courts.

According to the report, however, many Muslim bodies are using the Arbitration Act to support the claim that they are able to make legally binding decisions for members of the Muslim community, when in fact the law limits their role to that of being a mediator to help reach an agreement. “The mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator who imposes a decision,” the report states.

The report shows how Sharia courts often fuse the concepts of arbitration, in which both parties agree to submit their dispute to a mutually agreeable third party for a decision to be made, and mediation, in which the two parties voluntarily use a third party to help them reach an agreement that is acceptable to both sides.

On top of this lies the problem of “jurisdiction creep,” whereby Sharia courts are adjudicating on matters well outside the arbitration framework, such as by deciding cases relating to criminal law, including those involving domestic violence and grievous bodily harm.

 

Haitham al-Haddad is a British Sharia court judge, and sits on the board of advisors for the Islamic Sharia Council. Regarding the handling of domestic violence cases, he stated in an interview, “A man should not be questioned why he hit his wife, because this is something between them. Leave them alone. They can sort their matters among themselves.” (Image source: Channel 4 News video screenshot)

As a result, Muslim women, who may lack knowledge of both the English language and their rights under British law, are often pressured by their families to use Sharia courts. These courts often coerce them to sign an agreement to abide by their decisions, which are imposed and viewed as legal judgments.

Worse yet, “Refusal to settle a dispute in a Sharia forum could lead to threats and intimidation, or being ostracized and labelled a disbeliever,” the report states, and adds:

“There is a particular concern that women face pressure to withdraw allegations of domestic violence after they make them. Several women’s groups say they are often reluctant to go to the authorities with women who have run away to escape violence because they cannot trust police officers within the community not to betray the girls to their abusing families.”

The report shows that even in cases where Muslim tribunals work “in tandem” with police investigations, abused women often withdraw their complaints to the police, while Sharia judges let the husbands go unpunished.

Meanwhile, most Sharia courts, when dealing with divorce, do so only in a religious sense. They cannot grant civil divorce; they simply grant a religious divorce in accordance with Sharia law.

According to the report, in many cases this is all that is necessary for a “divorce” anyway; many Muslim women who identify themselves as being “married” are not in marriages that are legally recognized by British law. Although a nikah (an Islamic wedding ceremony) may have taken place, if the marriage is not officially registered, it is not valid in the eyes of civil law. The report states:

“This creates a very serious problem: women who are married in Islamic ceremonies but are not officially married under English law can suffer grave disadvantages because they lack legal protection. What is more, they can be unaware that their marriage is not officially recognized by English law.”

This places Muslim women in an especially precarious legal situation when it comes to divorce. In Islam, a husband does not have to follow the same process as the wife when seeking a talaq (Islamic divorce). He merely has to say “I divorce you” three times, whereas the wife must meet various conditions and pay a fee. The report cites women, when speaking of their own talaqproceedings, who referred to their lack of legal protection after discovering that their nikah did not constitute a valid marriage under English law.

The report cites Kalsoom Bashir, a long-time women’s rights activist in Bristol, who discusses the added problem of polygamy. She notes:

“There is an increasing rise in polygamy within Muslim families and again the women who are involved are not in a position to be able to challenge the situation or get any form of justice. They find it difficult to obtain any maintenance as the marriages are not registered legally. Polygamy is used to control first wives who are told that if they are a problem the man has the Islamic right to take another wife. Sometimes just one of the marriages is registered leaving one wife without any legal protections.”

Overall, the report includes excerpts of testimonies of more than a dozen Muslim women who have suffered abuse and injustice at the hands of Sharia courts in Britain. One woman said: “I feel betrayed by Britain. I came here to get away from this and the situation is worse here than in the country I escaped from.”

The report concludes by calling on the British government to launch a judge-led inquiry to “determine the extent to which discriminatory Sharia law principles are being applied within the UK.” It also calls on the government to support Baroness Cox’s Private Members’ Bill — the Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill — which would “create a new criminal offense criminalizing any person who purports to legally adjudicate upon matters which ought to be decided by criminal or family courts.”

Baroness Cox originally introduced the bill in 2011, but it went nowhere due to the lack of support from the main parties. She re-introduced the bill in 2013 and 2014, but it continues to languish, apparently because the main parties are afraid of offending Muslims. Cox has vowed to re-introduce the bill in the next session of Parliament, whose members will be elected on May 7.

The bill aims to combat discrimination by, among other restrictions, prohibiting Sharia courts from: a) treating the evidence of a man as worth more than the evidence of a woman; b) proceeding on the assumption that the division of an estate between male and female children on intestacy must be unequal; or c) proceeding on the assumption that a woman has fewer property rights than a man.

The law would also place a duty on public bodies to ensure that women in polygamous households, or those who have had a religious marriage, are made aware of their legal position and relevant legal rights under British law.

In a letter, Baroness Cox wrote that her recommendations “can by no means remedy all of the sensitive issues involved, but they do offer an important opportunity for redress.” She added that her bill “already has strong support from across the political spectrum in the House of Lords as well as from Muslim women’s groups and other organisations concerned with the suffering of vulnerable women.”

But it remains to be seen whether the next government will agree to support the bill. On March 23, British Home Secretary Theresa May pledged that if the Conservative Party wins the general election, she would launch a review into whether Sharia courts in England and Wales are compatible with British values.

But the Conservative government’s track record on confronting Islam has been patchy at best. In November 2013, for example, the government rejected an amendment offered by Cox to the Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Bill, which would have protected women who are duped into believing that their marriages are valid under British law when in fact they are not.

More recently, the Conservatives quashed a “politically incorrect” inquiry into the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain.

While Cox welcomed May’s commitment to investigate Sharia courts, she also expressed concern that politicians will once again bow to political correctness. It is important, she wrote, that such investigations “do not fall at the first hurdle, as appears to have happened with previous, similar government-led reviews. Without powers to subpoena witnesses, any independent review — no matter how well intentioned — will be another lost opportunity.”

Cox summed it up this way:

“The government’s response will be a litmus test of the extent to which it genuinely upholds the principle of equality before the law or is so dominated by the fear of ‘giving offense’ that it will continue to allow these women to suffer in ways which would make our suffragettes turn in their graves.”

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

The West’s Dangerous Enchantment with Islam: Muslim Women Thrown “Under the Bus”

Gatestone Institute, by Uzay Bulut, Nov. 9, 2014:

There are no women’s rights in Islam; there are no women’s rights in most Muslim countries. And there is no freedom of expression in these countries; people have become virtually voiceless.

To make a positive change in Muslim countries, we need to be able to speak openly, without putting one’s life at risk, and tell the (too-often criminalized) truth about what Islamic teachings and traditions actually contain.

If one is called “racist” or “Islamophobe,” the answer is that these are the accusations bullies always use to silence those who disagree with them. The real Islamophobes are those who degrade, abuse and kill their fellow Muslims.

If oppression of women is rooted in the culture, shouldn’t one be asking, ‘what makes a culture that misogynous?’

There is a situation even more frightening. It now seems to be difficult to speak openly about fundamentalist Islam even in Western countries. The worst thing any Western progressive or feminist can do is to stay silent.

The loudest voices in the West now seem to come from many progressives who say that criticizing of Islam is racist, intolerant, bigoted and Islamophobic. Injustices, they claim, take place all around the world, not just among Muslims or in Muslim countries. The criticism, they go on, comes from wrong interpretations of Islamic teachings. They say that Islam respects women, and that there are good and bad Muslims, just as there are good and bad people in all religions.

In just seven years, however, between 2002 and 2009, the rate of murdered women in Turkey has increased by 1400 percent.[1]

There are also more than 181,000 child brides in Turkey.[2]

When those figures are provided by state authorities, they are based on factual statistics. But when they are expressed in a critical manner by Canan Arin, a lawyer and women rights activist, they are, apparently, a “crime.”

Canan Arin, 72, is a feminist lawyer who has dedicated her life to women’s rights struggles in Turkey.[3]

The Antalya Bar Association, in December 2011, invited her to its newly founded Women’s Rights Enforcement Centre to give training to the lawyers on violence against women. There, she delivered a speech about early and forced marriages, and gave two examples — one from the 7th century, the other from the 20th century — to clarify her point.

The first example concerned Muhammad, the founder of Islam, who married a girl of seven. The second was about Abdullah Gul, then-President of the Turkish Republic, who became engaged to his wife when she was 14 and married her when she was 15, in 1980.

Although both of those examples are supposedly based on the truth, speaking the truth in Turkey now seems to constitute a crime. A year later, therefore, a warrant was issued for Arin’s arrest, and on December 12, 2012, she was brought to court for “insulting religious values adopted by a part of the society” (Turkish Penal Code Article- 216/3) and for “insulting the President” (Turkish Penal Code- Article 299/1).

On May 30, 2013, the court declared its final decision, which was the adjournment of the trial. According to the ruling, if Arin commits a similar crime in three years and receives a punishment for it, her case will be reopened.

“If I do not open my mouth for three years, and do not engage in [discussions of similar] subject matters, this trial will be ignored. Their ruling is like running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. But this trial should have never been opened in the first place,” Arin said to the Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet.

It is bewildering that any prosecutor actually considers child marriage a “value.” According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, in 2012 alone, the rate of parental consent for legal marriage under the age of 18 increased by 94.2%. This increase is not taking place in a country ruled by Islamic sharia law, but in Turkey, the only so-called “secular” Muslim country.

There are no women’s rights in Islam; there are no women rights in most Muslim countries. And as there is no freedom of expression in these countries, people have become virtually voiceless.

Yet many people, especially the so-called progressives, seem to find limitless excuses for fundamentalist Islamic atrocities against women. These include beheadings, stonings, domestic violence, honor killings, female genital mutilation, official legal inequality, home confinement, child marriages, and Saudi Arabia’s prohibition against women driving, to name a few.

Statements that come up with “multicultural” excuses to provide cover for the practices of fundamentalist Islam, however, never have, and never will, help to liberate women who suffer under Islamic misogyny, gender apartheid and jihad.

To make a positive change in Muslim countries, we need to be able to speak openly and tell the (too-often criminalized) truth about what Islamic teachings and traditions actually contain. Yet in Muslim countries, it is impossible speak openly about what is in these Islamic teachings and traditions, without putting one’s life at risk.

There is a situation even more frightening. It now seems to be difficult to speak openly about fundamentalist Islam even in Western countries, in part thanks to the dangerous enchantment of Western progressives and feminists who romanticize Islamism.

Women in the Muslim world desperately need the voice of Western progressives and feminists. But when it comes to finding excuses to neutralize critical questions about Islamic violence, Western progressives seem endlessly creative. Known by an increasing number of women as “Excuses for Abuses,” these include:

Criticizing Islam is racist and reveals “intolerance,” “bigotry” and “Islamophobia.”

For the record, Islam is not a race. Moreover, if you discuss the violent and misogynous teachings of Islam, it does not mean that you hate or are intolerant of Muslims, just of violence and misogyny.

It does mean that you care about Muslim women; that you do not want them to be forced to find four male “witnesses” to “prove” they have been raped, or to be punished by Islamic courts as adulterers if their rapists do not confess. It means you believe that their testimony in court, or their inheritance, should be valued as highly as a man’s; that you do not want them to be the victim of honor killings or child marriages at the hands of their Muslim family members, and that you do not want their husbands to be able beat them with impunity.

It also means that you want children to grow up to be honest, informed, compassionate adults, filled with love for life and fellow human beings, and who can speak up for rights and liberties that can never be taken for granted — all gained as a result of centuries-long wars, struggles and social movements.

It means you do not want to see children blowing themselves up on a bus, or people buying or selling women, or killing their sisters for not wearing the hijab. And finally, it means that you do not want children getting married at the age of seven, especially to men they have never met, or to be hypocrites who have to say, “Islam is a religion of peace” to defend themselves every time another Muslim commits a crime justified by proclaiming Islamic beliefs.

“Injustices against women take place all around the world, not just against Muslims or in Muslim countries.”

If the oppression of women is rooted in the culture, shouldn’t one be asking, ‘what makes a culture that misogynous?’

What is progressivism if its objectives do not include helping emancipate women from Islamic oppression, such as honor killings, child marriages, stonings, flogging and punishing rape victims (while releasing rapists) — all of which are employed in the Muslim world, in line with Islamic teachings, allegedly to “protect” and “respect” women and to keep them “pure,” but more probably to keep women in their place?

“What you are seeing is not the real Islam; Islam has been hijacked.”

The problem with this view is that Islam actually does teach that a woman is worth less than a man. Many teachings in Islam are misogynous — from wearing veils; requiring four male witness to prove rape; issues of inheritance; court testimony; rules of marriage; rules of divorce and remarriage; a man’s “right” to marry up to four women and then beat them, and so on.

If Western progressives and feminists care at all about their Muslim sisters, they need to protest against the actual roots of this injustice: these Islamic teachings.

Many progressives, however, seem not even to want to learn about them, let alone speak out against them. Perhaps they fear that if they knew more, they might actually have to speak out. Or perhaps they remain silent from indifference or inertia. But if all they really care about in the West is their (understandable) ability to get abortions and equal pay for equal work, they have badly failed to grasp the consequences of a theocracy on everyone, not only on women.

If they wished to inform themselves, they might read just the verses of the Quran relating to women and glance at the hadith sunnah literature — all easily found on the internet. Then — if they sincerely wished to raise future generations with humanitarian values, equal justice under law, and a respect for human rights — they might educate others about those teachings, while basing their opinions on knowledge, not on wishful thinking.

“If you accommodate Islamic misogyny,” says the writer Pat Condell, “you legitimize it and you invite it into your own life and into the lives of your children … because it’s coming your way. You also help to ensure that the woman in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, who gets beaten every day, will continue to be beaten and treated as a piece of property, as will her daughters and granddaughters all the way down the line.”

“It is not about Islam. Crimes were committed and are being committed in all places throughout history.”

The world is no paradise, but in the West, if economic, political or social causes of injustices are freely discussed, why should religious, or Islamic, causes be exempt from discussion?

In many Muslim countries, where only Islam — but not the people — has the right to survive, such discussion is impossible without extreme risk. Even in Turkey, considered one of the most “liberal” of Muslim countries, if you dare to discuss or criticize the teachings of Islam, you can be killed, arrested, attacked, exposed to social and psychological lynching campaigns, brought to court and given a prison sentence.

Do progressives not oppose supremacy and oppression? Why then do they turn a blind eye to Islamic supremacy and oppression?

In Gaza, for instance, for whom Western progressives claim to have so much sympathy, women are systematically murdered in honor killings, and the Hamas government does not protect them. Appeals court judge Ziad Thabet, told Al-Monitor that “during his time in the judiciary, he had noticed that honor killing defendants were usually given light sentences. Three years in prison was the harshest…. Life sentences or execution were never a consideration.”

Al Jazeera also reported that “the number of so-called ‘honor killings’ in Palestine doubled in 2013 from the previous year. … For the past three years, the number of women killed has increased each year.”

Can Western feminists not stand up even against a terrorist group, Hamas, on behalf of Gazan women, who cannot speak up for themselves for fear of reprisals? Or would this not be as pleasurable as condemning Israel, the only Middle Eastern country where Muslim women do have equal rights? Or can these progressives only parrot propaganda, such as, “Palestinian women are exposed to honor killings by angry Palestinian men due to the Israeli occupation”?

“Not all Muslims are the same. There are good and bad Muslims, just as there are good and bad people in all religions.”

First of all, thank you very much for this genius discovery. But how can it help reduce the Islamic violence around the world?

Of course it is true that there are many good Muslims, whose values do not follow Islamic teachings verbatim, but also include humanitarian values. They do not wage war on other religions or try to bring them under submission to Islam. In the eyes of jihadis or Islamists, however, who live by the harshest interpretation of most doctrinaire Islamic teachings, such a quality makes them “bad Muslims.”

“All religions are essentially the same.”

Well, not quite. Biblical values are far more benign than Islamic ones, and generally descriptive rather than proscriptive. Furthermore, the most violent of them were long ago abandoned.

No religion, for instance, other than Islam, has ever commanded that those who insult or leave it should be put to death. (See Surahs 6:93, 33:57, 33:61)

On September 24 after being found guilty of “heresy” and “insulting prophet Jonah,” Mohsen Amir Aslani, 37, an Iranian psychologist, was hanged in a prison near the city of Karaj west of Tehran, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency. Aslani, it seems, had given religious classes where he provided his own interpretations of the Quran. In one of his classes, he apparently told his audience that Jonah could not have emerged from the whale’s belly; it was this statement that led to his charge of insulting the prophet Jonah, the Iran Wire websitereported.

Left: Canan Arin, a feminist lawyer arrested in Turkey for “insulting religious values adopted by a part of the society” and “insulting the President,” after she mentioned that the Muslim prophet Muhammad married a 7-year-old girl and the President of Turkey married his wife when she was 15 years old. Right: Mohsen Amir Aslani, an Iranian psychologist who was hanged in Iran for the crimes of “heresy” and “insulting prophet Jonah,” after he said that the biblical prophet Jonah could not have emerged from a whale’s belly.

How much time will pass until Islam is reformed or reinterpreted? How many people will be killed, attacked or enslaved until that happens? How many Muslims have the free will or courage to speak out? Will Islamists even ever allow them to, without threatening retaliation? Are the Islamists so uncertain that what they are preaching can stand on its merits — as the Quran instructs, “without compulsion” — that they cannot even tolerate even a single comment about one of their prophets?

What Western progressives and feminists are doing for the sake of political correctness — or a well intentioned, if misguided, “multiculturalism” — does nothing to help Muslim women. On the contrary, “political correctness,” silence, or making excuses for atrocities caused by Islam, can only add to the suffering of women in the Muslim world.

If progressives truly want to protect Muslims, they cannot achieve this goal by “protecting” Islam from criticism.

If one is called “racist” or “Islamophobe,” the answer is that these are accusations bullies always use to silence people who disagree with them. The real Islamophobes are those who degrade, abuse and kill their fellow Muslims.

The worst thing any Western progressive or feminist can do in the face of the suffering caused by Islamic teachings, is to stay silent.

Uzay Bulut is a Turkish journalist based in Ankara.


[1] According to the Turkish Ministry of Justice, 2009.

[2] According to the data of the Turkish Statistical Institute in 2012.

[3] Arin co-founded the Purple Roof-Women’s Shelter Foundation, the Association for the Support of Women Candidates and the Women’s Rights Enforcement Centre of the Istanbul Bar Association. Between 1994 and 1997, she acted as an expert on violence against women for the Gender Equality Commission of the Council of Europe.