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» 03/07/2007 19:08
ISLAM – EUROPE
Multiculturalism and Islam: suicide of the West and women’s rights
by Samir Khalil Samir, sj
So-called “dialogue with the Islamic world” and juridical relativism on marriage and polygamy play havoc with the dignity of women and equality between sexes. The Koran: it’s o.k. to beat women.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The ideology of multiculturalism, i.e. blind tolerance toward any culture and tradition, is destroying European identity and is above all doing away with human rights and, more specifically, women’s rights.  A prime example is the increasing tolerance in European countries toward polygamy.

In theory, polygamy is prohibited in Italy and in Europe.  But it increasingly happens, in the name of multiculturalism, that Muslim immigrants are registered as polygamists in the European continent: if a man is Muslim and married in his country of origin with 4 wives, we cannot but accept this as a given.  All this goes against European laws and constitutions – which affirm monogamous families – but, in the name of a misplaced respect for cultures, any solution is deemed acceptable.

 Tolerance for polygamy?

 In Italy, some constitutionalists are suggesting, for the sake of letting people have it both ways, that only one wife be recognized as such, while the others are considered concubines: this would settle the situation of various Muslims who already have a wife in their country of origin and take another in Italy.  Others think that a distinction could be made between civil marriage (at City Hall, with just one wife) and religious marriage in a mosque, where polygamous marriages could be celebrated.  Naturally, to do this, they are proposing that the articles of Italian civil law, which affirm monogamy and the equality of men and women, not be read.  A similar trend is spreading in Greece.  In certain areas where Muslims are the majority, the government has accepted the principle that they manage themselves with their own norms.  And so, in Athens, polygamy is prohibited, but in Muslim-majority areas, it is allowed, again in the name of cultural respect.

 Multiculturalism is doing a lot of damage.  Firstly to common sense: if a man is married in Senegal with a woman and in Italy with another, this cannot be defined as monogamy.  A crime remains such whether it is committed in Italy or abroad.  Such tricks are actually a way to suggest loopholes for polygamy.  Thus, if an Italian wants to have more than just one wife, all he needs to do is to convert to Islam!

 But multiculturalism is above all damaging to the dignity of women.  Polygamy in Italy is prohibited in that it is contrary to the principle of equality between men and women.  It would be useful to Islam too to affirm this principle.  In Islamic society, in fact, women cannot be polygamous (only men have that “right”).  The same is true for repudiation, which is permitted to a man, but not to a woman who, however, can ask her husband the favour of repudiating her.  Affirming monogamy is thus the way forward on the path for an overall effort in favour of women’s rights.

 The Imam of Vénissieux and women

 To understand the humiliation in which women live in the Islamic world, I would like to recall a fact that sparked much debate in France.  Last February 20th, the courts definitively rejected an appeal made by Imam Abdelkader Bouziane.  An Algerian-national, Sheikh Abdelkader, imam of the mosque of Vénissieux, near Lyon, a polygamist and father of 16 (sixteen) children (14 of which French citizens) had been living in France since 1980.

 He had been ordered on February 26, 2004, to leave the country by Interior Minister Sarkozy, for his inflammatory speeches and for incitement to hatred, but the ordinance was not enforced.  On April 20, following an interview in the “Lyon Mag” newspaper, he was again served an expulsion order for his statements against women, in particular for having said that “the Koran authorizes a Muslim, in certain cases, to beat his wife,” that women must subjugated themselves to their husband and were not equal to men.

 On April 23rd, the administrative tribunal of Lyon suspended the expulsion ordinance and rejected the Interior Ministry’s request.  The imam went back to France in May 22.  On October 5, 2004, the State  Council cancelled the expulsion suspension, and the next day the iman was again expelled to Orano in Algeria.  On June 21, 2005, the Lyon court declared him once again free, but on October 14, he was convicted in absentia.  The imam filed an appeal, but on February 6, 2007, the courts definitively rejected his case.

 The “Régards de femmes” Association of Lyon, which had sued the imam, declared: “The right to dignity, to respect, to the integrity of her body belongs to every woman in France.  It will not be possible from now on to legitimize violence against women on the pretence of religion.”

The Imam’s interview

 ere are a few extracts of the (famous) interview with Sheikh Abdelkader on the male-female relationship.

 

In your opinion, are women equal to men?

 No.  For example, women do not have the right to work alongside men, as they [women]   could be tempted by adultery.

 Must women necessarily be subjugated to men?

 Yes, because the head of the family is always a man.  But he must be fair to his wife: he must not beat her for no reason, nor consider her a slave.

 Is this why you are favourable to polygamy?

 Yes, a Muslim can have more than one wife.  But not more than four!  Plus, there are conditions.

 But why can women not have more than one husband?

 Because no one would know who fathered the children!

 Are you in favour of the stoning [1] of women?

 Yes, because beating one’s wife is allowed by the Koran, but under certain conditions, in particular if she betrays her husband.  Please note however: the man does not have the right to beat her everywhere: not on the face, but in the lower parts, her legs, her stomach, her bottom.  He can beat her vigorously so as to induce fear, so that she does not start again!

 The Koran: wife beating is allowed

Various readers were up in arms, but in the end the imam defended himself saying that this is the Koran.  And he’s right.  If we open the Koran at Sura 4, verse 34, we can read:

“Men have authority over women due to the preference that Allah concedes to them over the other and because they spend their property [for women]; Good women are therefore obedient, guarding under secrecy that which Allah has preserved [sex]. [2] ; As for those on whose part you fear insubordination, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do nothing further against them; Allah is high and great.”

Last week on Al Jazeera, I heard another imam explain the four conditions for beating a wife: not on her face; without drawing blood; without breaking bones; not in the presence of children.  If all this is insufficient, one must resort to extreme punishment, i.e. the man deprives his wife of sexual relations.

 The Koran is also explicit on the question of the superiority of men to women; according to the Koran, Charter 2 (The Cow), Verse 228:

 “Divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three periods; and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day.  And their husbands have priority to take them back during this time if they wish for reconciliation; and they [women] have rights equivalent to their duties, on the basis of good custom, but the men are superior. Allah is Mighty, Wise.”

 The Italian edition published by the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII) includes a long footnote (absent on the on-line version) on the phrase “but men are superior”:

 "In a pitiful effort to standardize Islam to Western culture, certain modernist commentators have written that superiority has only to do with the right of men to repudiate their wife, a faculty which is not reciprocal.  In reality, it is a much more important and fundamental matter for the maintaining of balance at the individual, family and social levels.

  “Man and Woman are two complementary realities that exist unto each other.  If this were not so, Allah (glory be to Him the Most High) would not have formed Eve from Adam’s rib, he would have furnished each gender with complete reproductive organs, etc., etc.

 “The physical structure of men is capable of great exertion and significant exploits, that of women, of steady labour and great endurance of pain.

  “Male sensitivity is entirely exterior, projected outside the realm of family and tends to become public and political.  That of women is interior, careful of oneself, aimed at the protection of that which has been acquired and to the acquisition of simple means of sustenance and security.

  “Male psychology is imaginative, creative, experimental, risk-loving, desirous of novelty, of affirming the Self, usually ample and superficial.  That of women is concrete, traditional, risk-hating, desirous of certainty, of conserving what is “mine”, usually profound and limited.

  “In the realm of family, the respect of the Laws of Allah and of the Sunna of the Messenger can create situations that require an affirmation of power that mortifies the complementarity of spouses.  But apart from complementarity, there is the problem of leadership, in the family and in society, which does not mean predomination, oppression or the lack of recognition of female predominance in a number of sectors and circumstances.  Allah (Glory be to Him, the Most High) assigns this management role to the male.  It is an onerous and difficult task that men would often willingly do without, and for which he must respond before Allah.”

 This apologetic comment, written by an Italian converted to Islam, mirrors the opinion of traditionalistic ulemas, avoiding their excesses.  It assigns specific tasks to men and to women, tasks which are unchangeable because determined by God, which claim to correspond to the nature of one and the other.  It is obvious that such a distribution of roles, established by God for eternity and valid for all times and cultures, is hardly compatible with Western mentality and is often incompatible with the laws and constitutions of Europe.

 Conclusion

 Is it possible to accept this teaching in the name of the respect for cultures and religious tolerance?  This is the serious question faced by all Western countries.

 I don’t know if the flag-wavers of multiculturalism realize how much human damage they cause.  Actually, it is increasingly clear that so-called multicultural tolerance is only acquiescence to a subtle form of racism.  In the name of cultural difference, in fact, everything is left to proceed on parallel tracks, without envisaging any progress, integration or betterment in the name of human dignity.

 It is time for Europe to understand that religious law cannot prevail over civil law and that, above every form of tolerance, there is a country’s constitution.  If this does not happen, Islam will be given carte blanche to colonize our customs.

 

NOTE :

 1)  The imam, who had lived in France for 24 years, did not understand the word “stoning”, which he understood to mean “beating”.  Hence, his reply.

 2)   In UCOII’s translation, generally attributed to Hamza Piccardo (Imperia, 1994), the following note can be read “This is the ideal of the believing woman: ‘patient and modest.’  Says the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): “The best of women is she who rejoices at your gaze, obeys you, guards her person and the property of the husband in his absence.”


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See also
03/27/2007 ISLAM
Multiculturalism and Islam: Muslims in Europe, no to ghettos, yes to integration
by Samir Khalil Samir sj
03/23/2007 ISLAM
Multiculturalism and Islam: Sharia vs European constitutions
by Samir Khalil Samir, sj
10/19/2010 VATICAN - ISLAM
Synod: Christians and Islam demand religious freedom, to fight extremism
by Samir Khalil Samir
08/29/2007 ISLAM - EGYPT
Hegazi case: Islam’s obsession with conversions
by Samir Khalil Samir, sj
06/13/2011 EGYPT - ISLAM
The future of the "Arab Spring", held back by poverty and fundamentalism
by Samir Khalil Samir

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