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.