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.