Women in Afghanistan (Photo: © Reuters)
Earlier this year I wrote a short article on the political, societal and legal tensions associated with the large-scale Muslim immigrations to Europe in the late 1960’s and early 70’s – a period when I lived in both England and Germany.
I wrote the piece because I disagreed fundamentally with the suggestion by some of our senior political leaders that violent incidents - such as the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris - could have been avoided had Europeans worked harder to “assimilate” their Islamic immigrants.
The article included discussion of traditional Muslim “proprietary” doctrines toward women and girls. I wrote, “We still have brutal ‘honor killings’ of women – even in the United States – and young girls are murdered, raped and enslaved (in the name of religious law) throughout the more ‘modern’ Muslim world” and explained how such doctrines and practices were fundamentally inconsistent with the law in Western democracies.
Shortly after the article appeared, I was surprised by an email from my editor at the time - who had previously declined to run the piece - saying: “I have reached the unfortunate conclusion that your views on the matter are well outside the spectrum that we are willing to publish…”
I also wondered, was this “conclusion” a clear example of our “big media’s” reluctance to publish on the negative aspects of Islam? Was such critical coverage, whether reporting or commentary, “well outside the spectrum that [they] are willing to publish”?
Here’s another example: After my article appeared, a scholarly report on the practice of “female genital mutilation and cutting” (or “FGM/C”) of some Muslim women and girls was published by the independent American Population Reference Bureau (PRB).
The findings of this report are shocking:
“Girls under age 18 made up one-third of all females at risk…. While some of these girls were born in countries with high prevalence rates, the majority are U.S.-born children of parents from high-prevalence countries. Anecdotal reports tell of U.S.-born girls being cut while on vacation in their parents' countries of origin and of people traveling to the United States to perform FGM/C on girls here.”
Mainstream American media has simply ignored this report. Is it because even totally objective factual coverage of the report could somehow be considered “Islamophobic” -- an editorial descriptor for all things critical of Islam?
In a larger context, has U.S. big media learned anything from the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, the killings in Copenhagen, the brutal attack at a Kenyan university and the recent mass shootings in Tunisia? Doesn’t our media see these vicious acts as a direct threat to their – and our – basic freedoms of thought, press and expression -- the very fundamentals of a democracy?
This is not a new tension in the West. More than a hundred years ago, Sir Winston Churchill observed - in reference to the conflict between fundamental Islam and democracy - that “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.”
In short, an Islamic reformation is long overdue, as I wrote, “…Muslim integration into Western cultures – especially ours – requires the abandonment of laws, rules and practices inconsistent with living in free societies. This is nothing radical or new – most other organized religions have done it for the past few hundred years, some far more than others.”
Whether one agrees or not with this conclusion is perhaps less important than the willingness to address it, and therefore it must remain an important concern for Western lawmakers and our legal scholars.
Yet, some of our media continues its reluctance to publish on the anachronistic and negative influences of Islam and sharia law - especially as it affects women – and this while attempting to “assimilate” itself into Western democracies and modern legal systems.
And, the idea that media criticism of Islam or sharia law is somehow off limits – especially as it teaches or condones violence toward women - is also fundamentally inconsistent with our democratic values. This is an aspect of Islam or Sharia Law that can never be “assimilated” in Western democracies.
Daniel Gallington is the Senior Policy and Program Adviser at the George C. Marshall Institute in Arlington, Virginia.
Anti-Islamist Muslims who were left out of the White House's summit “Countering Violent Extremism”
On February 18, the White House hosted a three-day summit on “Countering Violent Extremism” to “counter hateful extremist ideologies that radicalize, recruit or incite to violence.”
Great care was taken by the Obama administration to avoid any mention of words associated with “Islam” or “Muslims.” Thus, “violent extremism” became the catch-all phrase to refer to Islamism, Islamist or Islamic extremism during the conference.
It soon became evident the three-day summit was a theatre of the absurd. The very people who have preached Islamism and promoted sharia in their sermons were invited to recommend how to undo the damage done by their teachings.
Imams from American mosques which practise gender-segregation and homophobia, representatives of Gulf Arab states who funded and promoted the ideology and the government of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and women sporting Muslim Brotherhood-mandated hijabs dotted the audience and speakers.
Conspicuous by their absence at the summit were prominent Muslims who have for the past decade been fighting the doctrine of the Islamic State (ISIS), which was the real focus of the conference.
One of the American Muslims not invited was the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser.
Reacting to President Barack Obama’s speech at the conference, he said: “(Obama) is insulting millions of reform-minded Muslims who are trying to reject and push back theocracy … And the leader of the free world in the meantime is saying, ‘Well, these terror groups are sort of coming out of thin air and it’s just sort of a crime, education and a job problem’ — which is absurd.”
Defeating ISIS might have been the stated intention of White House officials, but they did not find it worthwhile to talk to the only groups that have defeated Islamic State on the battlefield. Those are the fighters of the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization, and their Syrian allies, the Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG).
Another Muslim politician who should have been at the table was Ahmed Aboutaleb, the outspoken Muslim mayor of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Born in Morocco, Aboutaleb first came into the international spotlight when he addressed Dutch Muslims on a Dutch TV network following the Charlie Hebdo attack saying, “if you do not like it here … may I then say you can f… off.”
Aboutaleb, who spent 15 years in Morocco living off “one meal a day,” and “walking without shoes” took a stab at the Obama administration’s suggestion that a growth in job opportunities may reduce radicalization.
“I know how it is to be a product of poverty, and I cannot accept that poverty leads to terrorism,” he said. “Poverty must lead to a seek to knowledge, to sciences, to be better, to climb on the social ladder …”
The frustration of anti-Islamist Muslims was best reflected in the headline of an essay by two American Muslim feminists, Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa, that appeared in The Daily Beast days after the White House conference ended. The headline read:
“Will It Take The End of the World For Obama To Recognize ISIS As ‘Islamic’?”
My fear is by the time America wakes up to the reality of the Islamic State, it may be too late to stop them.
Tarek Fatah, is a Canadian writer, broadcaster and anti-Islamist Muslim activist. He is the author of Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and the founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress.
From a video made by the Islamic State showing the beheading of a group of Syrian pilots
The threat that the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and other Islamist terrorist organizations pose can only be understood in terms of their nihilist ideology that is bent on destroying current civilization.
This nihilism stems from the age-old ideology of the so-called implementation of the “Al-Shari’a,” which is a way of life that rejects everything but itself. It is futile to deal with this Islamist terrorist phenomenon without addressing this ideological problem of sharia law.
At the outset, it needs to be stated that sharia is a gross distortion of Islam, and it is not Islam itself as is commonly held. It is based on the rulings of human Islamic scholars, denoted in the Quran as Ulu Al-Amr. Sharia is therefore a set of man-made laws that govern a specific society at a specific time. It is fallible and should be subject to change through consensus.
Sadly, most Muslims are not aware of these basic facts.
In the name of this sharia, religious establishments demand that the people obey these despotic laws as their “Islamic duty.” This travesty continues to this day in theocratic states like Iran and Saudi Arabia.
This abuse of Islam by the sharia cult is almost as old as Islam itself. It started with the establishment of hereditary monarchism by the Umayyad dynasty approximately 1,400 years ago.
The Ummayads used tyrannical laws they called “sharia” to stifle the democratic spirit of Islam and to turn it into a totalitarian religion so they could keep their hold on power indefinitely. They totally excluded the people from politics, thus depriving them of their liberties and political rights in the name of implementing sharia, falsely presenting it as the divine law of God.
The Quran grants people all their freedoms, while sharia comprehensively denies them such freedoms.
Diabolically, the religious establishment of the Umayyads and the consequent ruling dynasties asserted that sharia was religion itself, practically making the Quran redundant. Unsurprisingly, the proponents of sharia simply cannot tell the difference between freedom and tyranny, and between justice and oppression, for they have their concept of good and evil completely muddled by this false ideology.
It is time that we Muslims become aware of this sad fact in order to do something about it.
Clearly, what the Umayyads did to Islam is yet to be undone. We Muslims urgently need to go back to the Quran to sort out this ideological mess of sharia. Our salvation lies in the Quran and not in sharia and not anywhere else.
We need to liberate the mosque from the shackles of state power and revert to the teachings of the Quran.
We need independent judiciaries who base their judgments on civil law, enslaved neither to sharia nor to royal families and police states.
We need to formulate an ideology of liberation strictly based on monotheism so that human determinations are no longer imbued with divine status. Only God is divine and infallible. This clear separation between the divine and the human is Quranic.
Politically speaking, this clear separation is called secularism. The adoption of secularism will enable us to do away with the theocracy of sharia so that we are all equal, in accordance with the message of the Prophet Mohammed, peace and blessings be upon him.
In a Muslim secularist state, the people, as represented by their democratically elected parliament, will be the source of legislation. This arrangement needs to be constitutionally enshrined.
The success of this campaign requires confronting the theocracies of Iran and Saudi Arabia. There can never be democracy, normalization and peace in the Middle East while these two vile regimes spread their theocratic poison among the young.
The Arab world is experiencing an ideological vacuum due to decades of vicious Islamist campaigns portraying democracy as apostasy. This has been staunchly supported by the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist organizations.
This lack of a political vision threatens to derail the Arab Spring revolutions. The vision that Arabs must adopt is one of democratic secularism, understanding that democracy is impossible without secularism and its freedoms enhance the understanding and study of Islam.
Ahmed Shebani is the founder of the Democratic Party in Libya, the first political party created after the anti-Qaddafi revolution began and the only one that is actively calling for the establishment of secular democracy with international help and explicitly recognizes the state of Israel.
He was an anti-Qaddafi dissident in Misurata and founded the Libyan Freedom & Democracy Campaign that supported the revolution through Internet-based activism. He and his party calls on the Arab world to ban the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to national security.
You can read Shebani’s previous interview with the Clarion Project here.