Dominant discourses in the anti-Islamization debate undermine feminism leaving women and young females damned and brutalised by extreme forces of sharia law in Australia and internationally (Robinson, 2011 & Hassan, 1999). Arguments about racism, left wing and right wing politics, multiculturalism, populism, integration, nationalism, Islamic and secular feminism, moderate and radical Islam, position people in power relationships with each other (Robinson, 2011). Reconstructions of these dominant discourses reframe the rank and status of the varying entities involved in the anti-Islamization dispute presenting various hierarchies in order to engage more fully with the oppressed status of women, girls and their human rights (Robinson, 2011 & Hassan, 1999). Discourse is perpetually used to position people in relationship and can marginalise or exclude however people find it more therapeutic, better for health and wellbeing to be included and respected (Drewery, 2005; Robinson, 2011). Feminism is a broad set of beliefs and ideas that belong to the global, social, legal, political movement to achieve equality, freedom from discrimination and human rights for women and girls (Fiss, 1994; United Nations, 2015). Women and girls seek equality, freedom from discrimination and human rights in line with men and boys in all spheres of life and use an array of strategies to achieve that goal (Fiss, 1994; UN, 2015). Law and politics have figured prominently in the world wide fight for girls and women’s equality both as domains to be reformed and as a means to achieve that reform (Fiss, 1994). Anti-Islamists recognise the plight of women and girls in Australia and internationally who have struggled with the male construction of sharia in politics and law to oppress females (Bolt, 2011; Durkhanai, 2015; Nickel, 2014; Solomon & Al Maqdisi, 2015). Opposition to the seemingly obvious humanitarian intentions of anti-Islamists to dismantle the perpetual sinister mechanisms of sharia dominate discourses socially, legally and politically (Ebrahim, 2014; Durkhanai, 2015). Surprisingly these forces of opposition not only come from totalitarian misogynist regimes in support of their traditional values, but also erupt from various left wing factions in Australia and abroad (Durkhanai, 2015). The manifestation of opposing discourses to democratic anti-Islamic ideals has been evident globally such that there is a stalemate in mostly Muslim countries and in Australia that prevents women and girls free speech towards realising their potential and full value as human beings (Hozyainova, 2014;WHO, 2014;Vuga,2015; No FGM Australia). Free speech aids substantial change globally and could be enabled by the anti-Islamic argument that recognises the intrinsic male dominant language of sharia doctrine and its implications (Ebrahim, 2014). Anti-Islamization supporters in Australia intend acting locally to influence national, global, law, politics and social relations with respect to the welfare of women and girls (Nalliah, 2015; Ali, 2006; Vossen, 2011;Vuga, 2015; Bolt, 2011; Bolt, 2013; Elder, & O’Brien, 2015). Although anti-Islamization discourse is diverse their arguments massively favour the best interests of women and girls globally regardless of race as part of an international movement towards female equality (Ali, 2012; Ebrahim, 2014; Alikarmi, 2014).
Islamization can refer to the revival or reterritorialization of law, knowledge, politics, economic and social processes of Muslims (Mehdi, 2013; Hamid, 2007). Islamization involves introducing Islamic signs, symbols, mosques, minarets, cultural artefacts, religious practices, dress codes as well as relationship hierarchies, histories, economic phenomena, law, politics, ideologies and languages into new landscapes within public and private spheres (Gole, 2012; Mehdi, 2013; Carvalho, 2009). The process of Islamization has to be accommodated by the original culture and so involves a response to the signs of Islam (Gole, 2012; Mehdi, 2013). Anti-Islamization is a negative reaction to invading Islam involving sentiments that a person or people are losing their home, their traditions, the lawfulness, safety, freedoms or the morality of their community (Gole, 2012; Carvalho, 2009; Hamid, 2007; Fa,1983). Many people accuse anti-Islamists of being undemocratic and use the term Islamophobic, bigot or racist to insult those concerned about the invasion paralysing their free speech deliberately to obscure the underlying tangible motivations for protest (Gole, 2012; Blakkarly, 2015). Critically examining some of the prominent discourses in the conflict from an evolutionary sociological, humanitarian, feminist perspective can help us to reconstruct relationships to deliver some empowerment to the silenced voices that are lost in the hysteria of this argument (Robinson, 2011; Ali, 2006; Hassan, 1999). In this way Australians will gain from knowledge of international experiences with Islamization in order to achieve conflict resolution strategies that promote fairness prioritising human rights of girls and women (UN, 2010; U N, 2015; Ebrahim, 2014).
Sharia is Arabic meaning “the clear, well-trodden path to water” and is mainly derived from the Quran and the sunna or teachings, life and way of the Prophet Mohammed (Johnson & Sergie, 2014; Taylor, 2014). The Prophet Mohammed is constructed by Muslims as the perfect example and the only messenger of Allah the god of Islam (Al Munajjid, 2015; Warner, 2010; Richarson, 2013). Mohammed the Prophet of Islam at age 50 married a six year old girl Aisha and consummated the marriage when she was nine (Al Munajjid, 2015;Warner, 2010).
The scholars are unanimously agreed that the father may arrange a marriage for his
young daughter without consulting her. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace
of Allah be upon him) married ‘Aa’ishah when she was six years old. End quote
from at-Tamheed, 19/98 (cited in Al Munajjid, 2015).
He kept female sex slaves, was polygamous, had 11 wives whilst advocating that women be worth half the value of a man (Warner, 2010; Al Munajjid, 2015). Mohammed is considered by Muslims to have been a great leader although he organised the beheading of more than 600 Jews at the ‘battle of trench’ and many other atrocities (Warner, 2010; Richarson, 2013). According to a western, democratic, secular, modern standard Mohammed is considered a mass murderer, rapist and a paedophile but this discourse is severely undermined in Australian political narratives and by media sources (Warner, 2015; Richarson, 2013). The teachings’ of Mohammed in the sharia are based on revelations mystically inspired from Allah as his plan for mankind according to believers or Muslims (Johnson & Sergie 2014). Sharia developed several hundred years after the Prophet Mohammed’s death in 632 AD as the Islamic empire expanded from Saudi Arabia to the edge of North Africa in the West and to China in the East (Johnson & Sergie, 2014). The life of Mohammed is the model for all Muslims and information about this has been gathered by scholars of the ‘ulama’ and written in the ‘hadith’ or sayings of the prophet (Johnson & Sergie, 2014). Hadith literature has grown into distinct schools of jurisprudence: the sunni schools of Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanafi; and the shiite school of Ja’fari, all named after the scholars that inspired them (Johnson & Sergie 2014). These are the dominant opinions of what may be called classical sharia but there are diverse interpretations of law by sunnis and shias as well as the various schools (Johnson & Sergie 2014). Muslims may also refer to a ‘fatwa’ which is an Islamic legal pronouncement issued by a religious leader or mufti, pertaining to a specific issue where Islamic jurisprudence is unclear (Kabbani, 2015). A ‘fatwa’ can be transnational, is not legally binding but is optional for the person to respect or not (Kabbani, 2015). Fatwa violence against women and girls is considered a global epidemic that kills, tortures and maims, physically, psychologically and economically (Nigar, 2012). Examples of fatwa in Pakistan are those by cleric Maulana Abdul Haleem who justified honour killing of women and issued a fatwa in a mosque justifying acid attacks on women who use a cell phone (Barducci, 2012). Another fatwa by Libyan Grand Mufti Sheikh Sadeq Al-Ghariani demands that Muslim women around the world protest reports about them by the UN, CEDAW and UNHRC, regarding human rights and quality of life, and deny the oppression and violence being committed against females (Valiente, 2013). Sharia is continuously debated on and due to its diversity has been contested as to whether it is a legal system at all (Otto, 2010). The main concerns when discussing sharia are the assumed supremacy of the law, the legal status of women and girls, cruel corporal punishments and human rights (Otto, 2010).
Sharia law has the potential to guide all aspects of Muslim life including immigration (al hijra), striving (jihad), dress codes, education, daily routines, halal foods, marriage, divorce, family, religious obligations, crime, punishment and financial dealings in Australia and internationally (Johnson & Sergie, 2014; Black, 2010; Vuga, 2015; Solomon & Al Maqdisi, 2015). The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has approached the government numerous times in a quest for legal pluralism openly stating that sharia is already being practised here especially in western Sydney, Greenacre and Bankstown (Vuga, 2015). Sharia can be seen as holistic, all encompassing as a guide to lifestyle whilst also underpinning the motivation of many Muslims to migrate and form an Islamic state (Sookhdeo, 2008; Solomon et al. 2015). Sharia finance is understood to be part of the Islamist agenda to subvert and subjugate the west under the rule of Islam and presents a risk to having connections with radical groups or terrorism according to many anti-Islamists (Sookhdeo, 2008; Warner, 2015; Soloman et al. 2015). ‘Creeping sharia’ is said to be expanding globally through east and west by Islamization and Islamic revival substantially influencing the legal code in nearly all 51 mostly Muslim countries and more (Vuga, 2015; Hamid, 2007; Otto, 2010). It is often questioned whether sharia can co-exist with secularism, democracy or even modernity (Johnson & Sergie, 2014). It has been found in many evidence based reports that a dual legal system involving sharia discriminates against women promoting violence, polygamy, paedophilia, rape, murder, and inequality of gender (Johnson & Sergie, 2014; Buttoo, 2008; Zakaria, 2014). Since Indonesia started implementing sharia law in legally pluralist Aceh province 2009 women are taught that they are responsible for rape and they now have to wear head scarves and strict Islamic dress, no tight clothing (Habib, 2013). If they don’t abide by the dress code they are caned in public with 100 lashes (Habib, 2013). Women are not allowed to straddle a motor bike but have to sit side saddle and aren’t allowed to hold onto the driver when riding behind a man because they ‘will provoke male drivers’ (Habib, 2013). Women applying to work in the police force in Indonesia are subject to a ‘two finger virginity test’ to be eligible and although this is not sharia it contributes to the negative attitude towards women developing in some regions of Indonesia (Wahyuningroem, 2014). In Aceh a woman who was gang raped by 8 men has been sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery a under a sharia bi-law (Wahyuningroem, 2014). The sharia penalty for adultery is now stoning to death in Aceh and it is feared that this may inspire vigilante lynching or honour killing (Wahyuningroem, 2014). These laws are violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (Wahyuningroem, 2014).
In the UK it is known that in their sharia courts some imams are biased against women with problems cited as being domestic violence, underage marriages, divorce, child custody, the value of women’s testimony and forced marriages (Buttoo, 2008). An analysis of sharia in the UK found there is a disparity in the mind set around domestic violence with courts often blaming the women who felt forced into the non-compulsory sharia and were then put in a worse position (Nickel, 2014). The report says Islamic law represents a serious growing threat to the safety and equality of women and girls in the UK (Nickel, 2014). Other reports highlight polygamy which can be regarded as the product of an extremely male dominated sharia culture and is becoming widespread in Britain, despite the fact that polygamy is illegal under British democratic law (Reid, 2011). Cultural sensitivity by welfare organisations is thought to have lead to about 20 000 bigamous and polygamous marriages under sharia in the UK which is considered a problem of welfare cheating according to some activists (Reid, 2011). In Australia like the UK it is illegal to enter into a polygamous marriage but the federal government recognises polygamous relationships that have been legally recognised overseas allowing second wives and children to claim welfare and benefits (O’Brien, 2008).
Sharia in Australia is being used for adult marriages, divorce, business disputes, finance and neighbourhood fights (Vuga, 2015). The Townsville Bulletin reports that sharia has been used to perform Islamic marriages that are unregistered and unlawful in Australia and often they are of under aged children as young as ten (Vuga, 2015). Controversial Islamic organization Hizbu-tahrir came under fire for publishing an article on their website that suggested the practise of adult men taking child brides could be deemed ‘morally acceptable’ if there was no coercion and the girl was mature (Carswell & Wood, 2014). In NSW alone between 450-500 forced marriages have taken place according to the Department of Children’s Services (Vuga, 2015). Vuga (2015) says a legal centre identified 250 forced child marriages in the last 2 years alone. UNICEF (2013) consider marriage before the age of 18 is a fundamental violation of human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says that consent to marriage cannot be ‘free and full’ when one of the parties involved is not sufficiently mature (UNICEF, 2008). Child marriage is discrimination, deprives a girl of freedom, education, is slavery, is degrading treatment, denies equality, constitutes one of the most severe forms of child abuse and usually involves brutal rape and violence (UNICEF, 2008). Having analysed different legal frameworks and human rights dimensions to this crime within a feminist perspective, UNICEF (2008) find a rights based approach is a powerful advocacy tool to monitor child marriage. It has been widely promulgated by Islamic scholars and is very evident in the ’hadith’ and Quran that Islamic law permits and promotes paedophilia and child marriage (Al Munajjid, 2015). The leader of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, famously wrote extensively on Islamic Jurisprudence and stated ‘A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However, he should not penetrate vaginally, but sodomizing the child is acceptable‘ (Salemson, 2011). Child marriage laws have been difficult to reform or enact in some mainly Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Niger, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Gaza where men simply ignore the law anyway (Brown, 2014; Newman, 2014). Saudi Arabia like Yemen has no minimum age for marriage at all and in Afghanistan 60-80% of marriages are forced and if women or girls leave their husband they are jailed (Newman, 2014). Respect for misogynist culture prevails even when there is a Child Rights Act in place deeming a girl must be 18 when marrying, creating conflict with sharia law which allows men to marry very young girls (Brown, 2014; Newman, 2014). Nigerian Senator Ahmed Sani Yerima aged 49 when questioned about his harem and marriage to a 13 year old girl said the Nigerian Child Rights Act of 2003, “must have been enacted in error”(cited in Junior, 2010). The senator justified his actions by saying “I am only following Prophet Mohammed’s footsteps” (Junior, 2010). In the UK it is a warning to us that campaigners against forced marriage, not yet a crime in Britain, say thousands of underage girls including some under the age of five are being forced to marry against their will in Muslim ‘nikahs’ every year (Kern, 2013). A ‘nikah’ is a marriage to an older man and is said to be the fault of what activists against forced marriage call ‘moral blindness of cultural sensitivity’ (Kern, 2013). Ignorance around the Islamic forced marriages in the UK and Australia are a symptom of the all ready embedded misogyny in our psyche and cultures that we are all challenged with (Kern, 2013).
Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions worldwide according to evidence based reports (UNICEF, 2014; WHO, 2014). Violence against females is that which results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering including threats of such acts, coercion or deprivation of liberty (WHO, 2014). Whether this occurs in public or private life it is gender based violence (WHO, 2014). It encompasses, but is not limited to violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and exploitation (WHO, 2014). Gender based violence includes violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere (WHO, 2014). Trafficking in women or girls, forced prostitution, perpetrated or condoned by the state, wherever it occurs is gender based violence (WHO, 2014). Violence against females perpetuates subsequent violence and has lifelong negative consequences for the health and well being of individuals and communities and is a humanitarian emergency (WHO, 2014). Recognising, preventing and responding to violence against women and girls, requires diverse approaches (WHO, 2014). It has been published in statistics from many sources that at least 1 out of every 3 women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or abused by someone known to her (UNICEF, 2014 a.; WHO, 2013). Violence against women and girls is rooted in gender inequality, is often hidden, stigmatized and socially sanctioned (WHO, 2014). One in ten girls has been raped and 2 out 3 between the age of 10-14 experience some form of corporal punishment on a regular basis (UNICEF, 2014 a.). WHO (2014) are advocates for law and policy reform, and they are aligned with international human rights standards to prohibit violence against women and girls, end discrimination, end harmful practices such as FGM, child, and forced marriages to promote gender equality.
Law can be seen as a dynamic tool in development with the capacity to defend the human rights of females old and young (UNICEF, 2011). Australia was a founding member of the United Nations, was involved in drafting the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990 which was signed by all nations except the US and Somalia (AHRC, 2015 a.). United Nations, (1989) say relative to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which proclaims the rights and dignity of everyone, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (DRC, 1959) can aid young females by reason of her physical and mental immaturity (Walther, 2003). The DRC defines a girl’s needs, special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth (Walther, 2003). Also the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 1989) is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations which spells out the basic rights of the child everywhere male or female (Walther, 2003). Gender based violence against younger females can be categorised as child abuse and then the CRC (1989) defines ‘child’ as a person below the age of 18 unless the laws of a particular country set the age for adulthood younger (UNICEF, 2014 b.). Many reports indicate that sharia law can be a barrier to regulating or stabilizing the age of an adult female at 18 years and so legal negotiations are compromised in relation to what constitutes child abuse (Newman, 2011).
‘‘Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment,
sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in
actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context
of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.’’(World Health Organization, 1999 p.15).
Domestic violence by a husband hitting or beating his wife and children is widely accepted in Arab and Muslim countries like UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Palestine and Afghanistan where as many as 90% of women find domestic violence acceptable and 1 in 3 women are beaten (UNICEF, 2013). UNICEF (2013) say examining patterns, social norms and attitudes to violence sheds light, brings about understanding of its magnitude and clues to its prevention. Violence against women within Muslim societies is partly attributed to fatwa, sunna and the Quranic verses eg. 4:34 legitimizes wife beating by stating that a man can strike her under some circumstances (Ibrahim, & Abdalla, 2010; Zakaria, 2014). The narrative that women and girls in societies governed wholly or partly by sharia have far fewer rights than those in the west is repeated in media reports and evidence based statistical analyses in attempts to rectify the situation (UNHR, 2015; Douki, et al.2003; U.N. 2010). 188 countries including 51 Islamic and some partly Muslim countries have ratified a decree or international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW 1979 which is a comprehensive human rights treaty and a tool to end violence and discrimination against all women and girls of any age (UNHR, 2015; Alikarmi, 2014). CEDAW reinforces the rights listed in the UDHR, CRC and other rights agreements (UNICEF, 2011). Ratification of CEDAW gives advocates for girls and women’s rights a framework that they can invoke when pushing for better policies and law (Alikarmi, 2014). There have been a number of reservations regarding some or part of the treaty and those countries, with reservations, referred to the requirements and the supremacy of sharia stating that CEDAW contradicts the moral code of their society (UNHR, 2015). All of the Muslim countries that ratified or acceded to the treaty except Tunisia and Turkey had reservations under Article 28. regarding some main aspects of the treaty and so won’t be obligated to comply whereas Iran didn’t sign the treaty at all (Ebrahim, 2014). States that ratify or accede to CEDAW are obliged to submit periodic reports every 4 years on their own progress but there is no way of enforcing compliance (UNHR, 2015). Australia signed CEDAW, in 1980 under the Fraser Liberal government which showed Australia’s commitment, in principle, to the rights it enshrines, evidencing – ‘Australia’s policy of equality for women and the elimination of discrimination’ (Australian Human Rights Commission, 2015). Forcing women and girls to respect the legitimacy of Islam as a religion or calling them Islamophobic, bigots and racist for objecting, is contradictory (AHRC, 2015). Islam and sharia threaten women and girls with physical, sexual, psychological, financial, social, emotional abuse according to Australian Law, policy and our commitment to CEDAW (AHRC, 2015; DSS, 2010).
’The term violence against women means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or
is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including
threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or
private life.’ (United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women cited
in DSS, 2010 p. 2).
…… Psychological and emotional abuse can include a range of controlling behaviours such as
control of finances, isolation from family and friends, continual humiliation, threats against
children or being threatened with injury or death (DSS, 2010 p.2).
In some Muslim majority countries there are laws in place to address violence and inequality of girls and women but enforcement of these laws is weakened by sharia and most women do not seek health assistance, legal support or police intervention (Hozyainova, 2014). In Afghanistan for instance women are told that they enjoy significant rights which may seem true on paper or in person but don’t manifest in reality (Hozyainova, 2014). The 2004 Afghanistani constitution extends equality to both men and women whilst the Afghan Civil Code provides rights for women to inherit or own property, sets the minimum age for marriage, and codifies a woman’s right to choose her partner or to initiate marital separation (Hozyainova, 2014). These contemporary laws are then contradicted in the constitution of Afghanistan which states that under sharia ‘no law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan’ which is created in the misogynist male image (Hozyainova, 2014). On top of this Afghanistan is now introducing new anti-women laws eg. ‘Prohibition of Questioning an Individual as a Witness’ that allows men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of punishment undoing the years of progress made in tackling violence, honour killing, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse like throwing acid in their faces, cutting their noses off and bashing them (Graham-Harrison, 2015). There have been attempts by women’s rights organisations to engage community leaders, mullahs from India, Malaysia, Turkey, Afghanistan and Egypt with programs to accept the legitimacy of women’s human rights with limited success so far (Hozyainova, 2014). Through reinterpretations of the Quran and sunna or quotes according to an Islamic feminist perspective women’s rights are thought to be partially normalized and framed within the acceptable existing paradigm (Hozyainova, 2014). Feminist activists have assumed that conservative leaders can be more willing to change their stances on the role of women through liberal interpretations of sharia law rather than pushing a western perspective however instead of this the Afghani parliament has recently blocked a law to curb violence against women (Hozyainova, 2014; Graham-Harrison, 2015). There is also a risk for those women attempting to publicly debate interpretations of Islam as they may be prosecuted on blasphemy charges, which incurs the death penalty (Hozyainova, 2014). In Pakistan where violence over blasphemy creates riots and mobs initiate their own vigilante justice for disagreements over the Quran it is suggested that public opinion carries a lot of weight and can influence court decisions (Shams, 2014). Siddiqui (cited in Shams, 2014) says in relation to the case of Christian woman Asia Bibi condemned to death for blasphemy against Islam, we have to create alternative narratives to defeat dominant extremist discourse.
In Australia the practice of female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM) is woven into the fabric of the sharia debate with 120 000 women having undergone the procedure (Johnson & Sergie, 2014). The UN has declared FGM in all its forms a violation of human rights which should be treated as a very serious crime (WHO, 2015). FGM is generally classified according to 4 types:- Type 1. Clitoridectomy: partial or total removal of the clitoris; Type 2. Excision: The most common type of FGM is the removal of the clitoris and the inner labia; Type 3. Infibulation: narrowing of the vaginal opening by cutting and repositioning the inner, or outer, labia; Type 4. Other: eg. pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing the genital area (WHO, 2015). FGM is usually performed on infants and girls aged 0-15 with a piece of glass, blade, knife or scissors without anaesthetic by a non-professional (No FGM Australia, 2015). FGM is a criminal offence that constitutes child abuse under Australian child protection legislation (Commonwealth of Australia, 1994). In spite of this it has been found that in Australia 3 girls per day are at risk of FGM (No FGM Australia, 2015). The Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital alone has reported seeing between 600 and 700 women annually affected by FGM (C.A. 1994). FGM is sometimes known as ‘sunna’ in Arabic meaning ‘duty’ or ‘tradition of the Prophet Mohammed’, is condoned under sharia and has been recommended in ‘fatwa’ by mufti in Malaysia and by Islamic State (Paluch, 2015; C.A. 1994; UNICEF, 2013). As a defence against this issue being related to Islam it has been said that this is not a Muslim problem, it is an African problem (Laufer, 2009). The research however so far indicates FGM is a significantly mostly Muslim problem and is usually considered a religious obligation (UNICEF, 2013; Budiharsana, Amaliah, Utomo. & Erwinia, 2013; von der Osten-Sacken, & Uwer, 2007). In the 29 African countries where FGM is a problem the majority of victims are Muslim, as many as 97% of women and girls in Egypt are affected, 93% in Malaysia as well as many women in Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia and Iraqi Kurdistan (UNICEF, 2013; Budiharsana, et al. 2013; von der Osten-Sacken, et al. 2007). In the UK where 5% are Muslim FGM is illegal, but a total of 578 cases were reported this year in March alone and the issue is said to be worsening with no-one being prosecuted (HSCIC, 2015). It is estimated 20 000 girls in Britain under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM each year but the problem is hidden and so prevention should involve open discussion (HSCIC, 2015).
There is an epidemic of honour killings that are family collaborations and affect 1000- 5000 Muslim women annually in Pakistan alone (Chesler, 2010). Honour killing is rampant in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kurdistan and Jordan but is a worldwide phenomena with some NGO’s estimating about 20 000 cases per year globally (UN, 2010; Chesler, 2010). The statistics do vary and the UN estimate that over 5000 honour murders are occurring internationally per year but that figure only depicts the status of killings known to authorities knowing many more are never recorded (Fox, 2015). It is possible 800 million women and girls in our world live under the threat of honour killing, terrified that if they make one wrong move, or are unfortunate to be sexually abused or even raped, they will be murdered (Fox, 2015). Democratic law makes a difference and honour killing in the US is estimated at 25-28 women or girls per year and in the UK and Northern Ireland the estimate is at 12 per annum on average (Fox, 2015; UNODC, 2013). In Australia the Murder of Muslim women in domestic disputes is said to be in line with the rest of the population with one woman being killed each week but Muslims are over-represented in NSW jails, at 9% to 10% of the prison population, compared to Muslims being less than 3% of the NSW population generally (Safi, 2014; Bashan & Silmalis, 2015). Information and open discourses about why Muslim men are over represented as criminals in NSW could indicate whether family honour crimes are an issue in Australia (Safi, 2014). It is a challenge to differentiate between what Muslims deem honour killings from the broad field of female homicide and data for this particular motive for violence isn’t generated by most police forces (UNODC, 2013). Honour killing is usually carried out by more than one person and often the father of the woman is involved (Chesler, 2010). Honour killing is part of the legal code in some Muslim countries, including Iraq, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Pakistan (News.com.au. 2014). It has also been practised in some states of Nigeria, in Aceh in Indonesia and often involves burying the woman up to the waist or neck and then hurling large stones at her until she dies (News.com.au. 2014). Family honour is used to condone vigilante killings in all countries including Australia and is an extreme form of discrimination, sometimes regarded as domestic violence (UN, 2010). Honour killings are increasingly being uploaded on the internet like the murder of Farkounda bludgeoned and burnt alive in Afghanistan (Qarizadah, 2015). In almost half of honour killings the victim is tortured and dies in extreme agony (Chesler, 2010). In western countries these killings are not reported as honour killings and most do not make it into the news (UN, 2010). In the name of preserving family ‘honour,’ women and girls are shot, stoned, burned, buried alive, strangled, smothered, gang raped, bludgeoned, throat slashed, and knifed to death, stabbed 10-40 times, with horrifying regularity (Carswell & Wood, 2014; Chesler, 2010). 58% are killed for being too western according to perpetrators and for resisting or disobeying religious expectations (Chesler, 2010). Many of these murders are committed because the women make independent decisions, not being subservient, not wearing Islamic clothes, not wanting to marry their first cousin, wanting a career or an education (Chesler, 2010). In 2014 Uthman Badar of Hizbu-tahrir was prevented from giving a sermon at the Sydney Opera House that consented to honour killing by asking ‘whether they were morally justified’ with the presumption that they are (Carswell & Wood, 2014). Honour violence also extends to stalking, harassment, false imprisonment, forced genital mutilation, forced marriage, and every form of sexual, physical, emotional and verbal violence imaginable (Fox, 2015).
All across the globe there are tens of thousands of NGO’s fighting for girls and women’s equality, right to life, human rights, justice and freedom (MADRE et al. 2015). In Iran Society for the Rights of the Child, in Malaysia Sisters in Islam (SIS), Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, Aurat Foundation in Pakistan and Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan employ workers who all risk their lives and freedom in the face of antagonism, by Islamic extremism and revival, in the fight for equality and rights for females WISE, 2015). These organisations are engaged in psychosocial and legal discourses to challenge the overwhelmingly dominant misogynistic, community preference for sharia law and state oppression of females (MADRE et al. 2015). An example of these discourses are by Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq in coalition with more than 100 other Iraqi NGO’s in an attempt to oppose the introduction of the draft Ja’fari Personal Status Law based on shia sharia jurisprudence which has been approved by an outright majority in the current Iraqi cabinet (Brown, 2014; Harbi, 2015). The Ja’fari Law if passed would only apply specifically to the shiite majority in Iraq and this sort of sectarianism in law is criticised for provoking an absence of nationalism and invoking instability and conflict (Harbi, 2015). The act is a typical example of Islamic revival and Islamization where the current legal age of marriage may be at 18 but is being downgraded (Brown, 2014). The law describes girls as reaching puberty at 9 years of age therefore ready for marriage, grants fathers sole guardianship of girls at age 2, legalises unconditional polygamy and rape in marriage (Brown, 2014). The draft Ja’fari Law violates Iraq’s obligations under CEDAW and CRC but its advocates say it allows multiculturalism and freedom of choice for all citizens (Harbi, 2015). At the same time the Iraqi penal code continues to mitigate sentencing in cases of killing and crime where honour is a motive (MADRE et al. 2015). An Iranian NGO the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC) say their main goal is to publicize and promote the principles of the CRC (Tait, 2012). SPRC expressed that they expected a surge in mental illness, teen runaways and girls turning to prostitution because fathers in Iran like those in Iraq, Afghanistan and other states where sharia is dominant sell their daughters into slavery in marriages with older men to pay off debts (Tait, 2012). Iranian MP Ali Asefenani says Iran like Iraq has a religious obligation to legally recognise the weddings of girls as young as 9 as to do otherwise is to contradict and challenge Islamic law (Tait, 2012). In this way violence and abuse of women is increasing in spite of the amazing efforts of a multitude of NGO’s to negotiate law whilst often invoking treaties like CEDAW, CRC and DRC all over the Muslim world (MADRE et al. 2015).
The whole Muslim world has been Islamized and this process is progressing globally with a population of about 1.6 billion growing to a projected estimate of 2.8 billion in 2050 (Otto, 2010; Hassan, 1999; PRC, 2015). Pew Research Centre (2013) surveyed 39 000 Muslims in 39 Countries and concluded that a solid majority want sharia to be the law of their land including 99% in Afghanistan and 40% in the UK. The Islamization of law severely weakens the legal position of women, girls, gays and other religious minorities (Otto, 2010; Hassan, 1999). Anti-women laws have been promulgated in Muslim countries under the guise of Islamization so that the system has been used for incredible oppression with women and girls being primary targets (Otto, 2010; Hassan, 1999). Men can divorce wives arbitrarily under sharia, have up to four wives without permission from anyone as he likes, a woman can hardly initiate divorce, and women only inherit half as much as male heirs in a similar position (Otto, 2010: Hassan, 1999). Muslim women under sharia have been kept separate from men and if in ‘men’s’ spaces they have to be inconspicuous and use veiling to do this (Hassan, 1999). Laws in Islamic countries discriminate against women’s testimony in rape trials (requiring 4 male witnesses) at the risk she may be tried for adultery instead therefore put to death, and blood money can be paid in women’s murder cases which often go unpunished (Otto, 2010). Sharia typically reduces women’s status to that of half a man or less (Hassan, 1999). Low levels of literacy in Muslim countries, especially between women in rural areas, has meant women have not understood their human rights, law or that they have a low status, or that the problem is theological (Hassan, 1999). Muslim feminist academics seek to resolve their political problems through analyses of Islamic doctrine, significantly Quran and hadith, but this has been mostly futile because their cultures and doctrine remains overwhelmingly patriarchal and violent (Hassan, 1999). There is a major problem when discussing the inequality and misogyny of sharia in Australia and that is the assumption by all Muslims of the god-made nature of Islamic law over what they insist on is the man-made nature of secular or democratic law (Ibrahim, & Abdalla, 2010).
Jamila Hussain (2011) is a research associate in the faculty of Law University of Technology Sydney who says fear of Islam and sharia has grown over the last decade in Australia partly because most of the information about these issues came from the media which present what she calls exotic and sensationalist stories about beheadings, lashings, polygamy and terrorism rather than sober explanations of law. Hussain (2011) claims, that, the Australian public has connected with sharia through hudud punishments of stoning and amputations and with the oppression of women in countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. She goes on to say that oppressed women in such countries are none of our business labelling those concerned as Islamophobic, right wing, extremists involved in inciting fear and hatred (Hussain, 2011). An anti-Muslim and anti-sharia rhetoric has infected the US, Europe, the UK and Australia so that wearing the burqa has been banned in some countries as well as praying in public in France and minarets prohibited in Switzerland (Hussain, 2011). Hussain (2011) says it is only fringe radicals in the Muslim community who conspicuously demand Australia adopt sharia as its legal system but there needs to be a rational well informed dialogue around the issue. An inclusive voice for Muslim women, religious leaders and a government campaign that informs the public of the true meaning of sharia in the Australian context would reduce misunderstanding and fear (Hussain, 2011). Attorney-General Robert McClelland ruled out sharia being introduced to Australia saying “Australia’s brand of multiculturalism promotes integration. If there is any inconsistency between cultural values and the rules of law then Australian law wins out” (Hole, 2011).
It can be said in relation to Muslims that the rights of freedom of religion and gender equality are well established principles within the international human rights framework, but even in the multicultural context of Australia they are very contradictory (Krayem, 2010). Muslim women in Australia adamantly defend their own status repeating Islam promotes gender equality and supports the full participation of women in all aspects of community life which makes anti-Islamists wonder if we are speaking the same language or if they are only saying this because they now live in democracy, are obeying fatwa, using ‘taqiyya’ (lying for Islam) or involved in ‘jihad’ (Krayem, 2013; Warner, 2013). If a woman in Australia is recommending men follow in the footsteps of Mohammed then wouldn’t those men be paedophiles and women victims and sex slaves to mass murderers? (Krayem, 2013; Ali, 2006).
The Life of Muhammed
….Then he (the apostle) sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they
were brought out to him in batches. …There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put
the figure as high as 800 or 900 ( Ishaq, A H 27-152, translated by Guillaume, 2004 p. 464).
Islamic feminists are reconstructing Islam conveniently in their own ideal but this is far from the reality of existing, previous totalitarian Islamic regimes or western experiments with pluralism and the discourse that they are espousing is obviously biased – even delusionary (Ghorashi, 2003). They are saying that what anti-Islamists see as Islam is not really Islam, its misogynist culture, ignoring everything we have discovered about the prophet from sunna, his biography or the challenges faced by ex-Muslims who speak out at the risk of being murdered as apostates (Krayem, 2013; Ali, 2006). Islamic feminists extract excerpts from Islamic doctrine to justify the validity of a Muslim idea of equality but what is needed in Australia is an integrated progressive feminism that applies to every girl and woman (Krayem, 2013; DSS, 2010). Equality and human rights for women is not the Islamic tradition that has been practiced from a secular feminist view point but oddly this Islamic feminist perspective using a tradition of ‘ijtihad’ (independent reasoning) to debate on and reconstruct the meaning of the Quran whilst ignoring negative aspects of sunna has become a prominent discourse globally (Ghorashi, 2003). Ex-Muslim apostates and secular feminist anti-Islamists often share similar views on this issue whereas Islamic feminists have been granted more credence by some who assumed that they Muslims alone are the subject and expert in the multicultural or global context (Krayem, 2010). In order to criticise Islam and sharia effectively people have to criticise the legitimacy of Mohammed himself as a moral compass to be imitated and feel absolutely free and right to do so (Ali, 2006). Islamic feminist views in Australia are alienating, dismissive and don’t apply to the global humanitarian crisis regarding women and girls anti-Islamists are referring to when they discuss Islam (Hussain, 2011). Some writers and researchers are asserting that you can’t have women’s rights and separatist multi-culturalism, you have to choose between these competing interests (Hari, 2007; Jain, 2005).
The notion of multiculturalism across the west and in Australia has come under fire in the last decade or so, critiqued and attacked by opponents who have declared it a failure, heralded its death and say it prevents or limits assimilation (Roose, & Akbarzadeh, 2013; Kymlicka, 2012). The events of 9/11 have been marked as a time when a renaissance of right wing populism arose in several Western European countries in contrast to what some refer to as the relative ease of Australia’s multicultural history (Cesari, 2009). In the decade following the attack on the World Trade Centre on September 11th 2001, Australia and many other western states have redefined securitisation of government approaches to Islam and Muslims which Hiz bu-tahrir describe as state paternalism, scapegoating and demonizing (Roose, & Akbarzadeh, 2013; Hiz bu-tahrir, 2015). There has been the questioning of loyalty and identity thrown at Muslim citizens who have become a commonplace mainstream issue in political discourses and media here and overseas (Cesari, 2009; Roose, & Akbarzadeh, 2013). In Australia Muslims have been viewed as culturally incompatible, whilst in Europe they have been seen as a common enemy, and Islam has been used as a political platform for cultural elites and politicians who have Europeanized or nationalised whilst establishing contacts with populist movements against Islam (Cesari, 2009). Muslims generally have been seen as a potential political threat to national security (Roose, & Akbarzadeh, 2013). There have been ongoing debates about Muslim identity in Australia and Europe which questions the viability of continued multiculturalism as a social system (Roose, & Akbarzadeh, 2013).
In the Netherlands Pim Fortuyn was a forerunner of national populism and wrote a book Against the Islamization of Our Culture in 1997 which established him as a prominent critic of immigration policy (Rembrandt, 2014). Whilst populism can mean society is divided into two camps, the good people and the corrupt elite this can be constructed differently (de Ruiter, 2012). The populism of Fortuyn called for the disappearance of an alien minority culture, Islam, to preserve Dutchness (de Ruiter, 2012). In this context Islam is considered fascism, anti-semitic, considering themselves to be the best community in the world, a superior ideology with the will to exterminate homosexuals, apostates, blasphemers and subordinate women (Fernandez, 2008). Fortuyn appeared on Dutch television and in newspapers criticising the government and Islam (Rembrandt, 2014). Fortuyn was openly gay claimed he was a leftist however he wanted a cold war with Islam which he considered a world view, political ideology, an extraordinary threat and a hostile religion (Rembrandt, 2014). In a television debate he flaunted his homosexuality at a Muslim cleric who responded with anti-homosexual invective so Fortuyn explained to the audience that this is the kind of Trojan Horse we are letting into the country in the name of multiculturalism (Rembrandt, 2014). Fortuyn was famous for saying that Islam was backward, that he would like to close Hollands borders to Muslims, that Muslims had no understanding of democracy or of the rights of women, homosexuals or minorities (Rembrandt, 2014; de Ruiter, 2012). Fortuyn said that when Muslims had sufficient numbers they would try and impose sharia law and he thought it might be necessary to repeal anti-racism laws to protect freedom of speech (Rembrandt, 2014). In 2002 Fortuyn founded the Lijst Pim Fortuyn (LPF) which attracted a huge number of voters from the entire political spectrum but especially from the left (Rembrandt, 2014). He was criticised and seen as a threat himself, called ‘right wing’ and ‘racist’ but he rejected these labels saying he had no objection to Muslims because of their race (Rembrandt, 2014; de Ruiter). He received death threats, was assaulted with a pie full of urine and faeces, was spied on by Dutch secret services and followed (Rembrandt, 2014). Fortuyn was friends with Theo van Gogh (great grand nephew of the painter) who was a columnist and known for criticising multiculturalism (Rembrandt, 2014). Van Gogh made a film with feminist Aayan Hirsi Ali the Somali born ex-Muslim politician, Submission about the abuse of women in Islamic society (Rembrandt, 2014; de Ruiter, 2012). In 2002 Fortuyn who could have become the Dutch president was shot in the head by Volkert van der Graaf who resented his anti-Islamic views and then in 2004 Van Gogh was also killed by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim who shot him eight times and slit his throat on the street in Amsterdam (Rembrandt, 2014;de Ruiter, 2012).
Geert Wilders of the ‘right wing’ Netherlands PVV, Freedom Party, was considered the heir of Pim Fortuyn and famously said that the Quran “incites hatred and killing and therefore has no place in our legal order”. Together with Ayaan Hirsi Ali in the early 2000’s Wilders developed a so called ‘critique of the Islamic religion’ in which he saw the behaviour of Muslims as determined by their religion and blamed the socio-economic misery and lack of democracy in many Islamic countries on their backward culture (de Jong, 2015). In 2006 Wilders and PVV Party won 9 out of 150 seats in the parliament but later in 2010 his popularity declined partly due to a focus by major parties on socio economic issues but the PVV Party connected these problems with Islamization claiming it to be the root cause of social problems, crime, the national deficit and deteriorating social services (de Jong, 2015). In 2010 Wilders was tried for inciting hatred but was found not guilty because of the distinction between Muslim and Islam (de Ruiter, 2012). Wilders like many other anti-Islamization activists declared he is against Islam not Muslims (De Ruiter, 2012). De Ruiter (2012) claimed that this distinction made in the trial of Wilders can hold in a court case but doesn’t work in politics because it would put pressure on Muslims to renounce their religion or leave the country. De Ruiter (2012) says that in order for anti-Islamization to become a political reality the Netherlands would have to abolish key articles of their constitution and terminate their commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (de Ruiter, 2012). De Ruiter (2012) is like other writers who claim free speech allowing anti-Islamization discourse leads to deeds of exclusion and repression. These writers are regarded as apologists for Islam who blatantly omit the fact that Islam and sharia profoundly excludes, represses and discriminates against females and other minorities (Ali, 2006). Discourse involving the Dutch Constitution and UDHR can be constructed to argue in favour of misogynist, andro-centric values of Islam or to act in favour of feminism depending on the hierarchical preference of the author (de Ruiter, 2012; Ali, 2006). In spite of pro-Islamic concern, since 2013 the PVV Party have ordered that the Quran should be banned, there should be a special tax for those wearing a niqab, Muslims should not be allowed their own schools and there should be a closing of all mosques in the Netherlands which can be seen as a profound dedication to human rights and female equality (de Jong, 2015). De Ruiter (2012) believes that Wilders’ ultimate aim is to lure Muslims in the Netherlands to renounce Islam as if that would be a sin. Wilders now needs 24/7 security after a decade long leadership of a political party where he regularly used his platform to denounce violent jihadists and Islam itself (Ross, 2015).
In France where 8% are Muslim anti-Islamization politician Marine Le Pen leads the Front National, ‘right wing’ populist party which was founded by her father Jean Marie Le Pen who calls her left wing (von Rohr, 2011). Le Pen is considered a feminist by some, described as mannish and phallic by others, while she says that globalization is ruining France and proclaims she is a Francophile (von Rohr, 2011). Gole (2012) wrote Le Pen has shifted the political discourse of her father’s extreme right party Front National to a new agenda by describing Muslims praying in the streets as like Nazi occupiers and like many but not all anti-Islamists Le Pen condemns anti-semitism. Le Pen’s adoption of discourse about gender equality, gay rights and anti-semitism is viewed with cynicism at times as it has been with Wilders and Fortuyn as if it is a ploy to be recognised as ‘left wing’ (Gole, 2012). Right wing has represented patriarchal, authoritarian, conservative religious, sex discriminatory and even anti-semitic values and so writers have claimed that by advocating for women’s rights, Judeo-Christian values and gay rights these European anti-Islamic politicians are abusing a leftist progressive agenda (Gole, 2012). The left wing usually support women’s rights, gay rights, religious freedom and the separation of church and state, which is not the case under Islamic rule (Warner, 2015; Jain, 2005). Anti-Islamists are often accused of fabricating politics of fear and resentment but exaggerating or twisting their argument is confusing and claiming them all to be racist diminishes the options for Muslims (Gole, 2012). Leftist intellectuals and centre right politics are apparently challenged and even disempowered by the rise of populist anti-Islamist discourses (Gole, 2012). Disorientation within and outside the movement is being used to denigrade and incited condemnation from the moderate population often by the ‘hijacking’ of the word race, rather than stating religion or political ideology, by the assumed leftists who see themselves as morally superior (Brunn, 2004; Faruqi, 2014; Fekete, 2010). In Australia both anti-authoritarian leftists and pro-authoritarian rightists have equally been found to be racist (Ray, 1984). The anti-Islamist perspective can be constructed legitimately in left wing discourse to support their agenda of human rights but has more commonly been used to determine politicians as right wing in Europe and Australia (Brunn, 2004).
Media in Australia and elsewhere can take advantage of the lack of accurate facts and figures about moderate and radical Muslims and the complexity of anti-Islamist rhetoric with the controversy surrounding it to ridicule deeper authentic feminist concerns (Spielhaus, 2009; Rogers, 2015). Feminists globally are asking how we can stop violence against women and girls and what can be done about the competition between anti-Islamists and the assumed leftist campaign that equates them with racist white supremacists (Rogers, 2015). The ‘leftist’ campaign privileges the human rights of some, like empowered or public Muslim women and men whilst compromising feminists like Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her determination to criticize misogyny in Islam (Rogers, 2015; Pinahi, 2014). Muslim women are sometimes thought to be objectified, or orientalised, because their plights and remain mysterious which is a symptom of the multiculturalism under the microscope (Rogers, 2015). There is a concern that the achievements of feminists towards equality, globally, to end oppression and preserve life as is recommended by Amnesty International, CEDAW, UNICEF and WHO is being mocked in the name of left wing anti-racism unnecessarily (Rogers, 2015; A.I., 2015, Pinahi, 2015). The constructs of secular, ethnic, cultural and moderate Muslims has emerged in defence of Muslims wanting to separate themselves from extremists, fundamentalists, militants along with attempts to compile estimations of typologies and groups that can be used in socio-political negotiations locally and globally (Spielhaus, 2009; Aly & Green, 2008). In Australia several studies have attested to Muslims being positioned as other in political and media discourses that deny them democratic access to public spheres as equal citizens (Aly & Green, 2008). Quantitative and qualitative surveys and polls indicate higher or lower significance of religiosity and gender role stereotypes for Islamic immigrants in Europe, US and Australia (Spielhaus, 2009; Bagheri, 2012; Aly, et al. 2008). Literature concentrates on organised forms of religious life, identification and practices, associations, initiatives, political parties, practices of exclusion, conflicts, mosque building, head-scarf controversies, preference for sharia, support for terrorism, expressing paranoia about the whereabouts, connections and involvements of both public and invisible Muslims (Spielhaus, 2009; Bagheri, 2012; Aly, et al. 2008). It has been noted that new migrants identifying as Muslim get involved in politics to declare solidarity with people from their origins against discrimination because of their religion (Spielhaus, 2009). Media reports and systematic empirical studies have also been used to measure levels of Islamophobia and Islam related hostility (Spielhaus, 2009; Strabac, & Listhaug, 2007). Moral panic has been expressed in Europe, the US and Australia with debates on citizenship rights of Muslim minorities and the related use of public funding (Spielhaus, 2009; Morgan & Poynting, 2012). There is a globalised Islam crisis and a notable lack of common established leadership or authority figures so that in spite of extensive research politicians, activists and media representatives have been declaring “Who can speak for Islam?” (Spielhaus, 2009).
Several studies have been undertaken internationally in attempts to try and answer questions, about who has the authority to speak for Muslims or Islam, and resolve some of the issues involved in the competing discourses (Spielhaus, 2009). There are currently multiple groups in a variety of states that simultaneously claim to speak on Islam’s behalf (Tlili, 2006). The scholars of the religion, who have traditionally been considered the authentic interpreters of Islamic doctrine and law known as the ‘ulama’ is divided into schools of jurisprudence to which the scholars belong as well as their political orientations (Tlili, 2006). There are also leaders of political regimes who claim to speak for the Muslim world who often use Islamic discourse to further their own personal, state or regime agenda (Tlili, 2006). Other claims to speak for Islam include the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafi groups, extremist groups, transnational terrorist groups like ISIS, and Muslims can access advice and fatwa online from various imams and mufti of the different sects (Tlili, 2006). Al-Azhar in Cairo is considered by many to be one of the oldest and most prestigious Islamic universities in the world and Dr. Sayed Zayed of Al-Azhar has published a critique of fatwa including one by the Muslim Brotherhood which says about women going swimming – “the water touches the woman’s private parts, she becomes an ‘adulteress’ and should be punished” (Ibrahim, 2013). The Brotherhood has issued that women touching or eating bananas or cucumbers is forbidden due to their phallic appearance (Ibrahim, 2013). Malaysian Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria issued a fatwa in 2015 that a Muslim woman has “no right” to reject her husband’s call for sex and a man has the right to force himself on her saying that there is no rape in marriage (Hidayah, 2015). In short there is no single locus of authority in the world who can claim to speak for all of Islam today but there are many sources that are both diverse and highly respected (Tlili, 2006). Muslims confirm that the main motivation for their action is their faith as is represented by the Five Pillars of Islam and in the trilogy of the Quran, the hadith and the bibliography or Life of Muhammed (Spielhaus, 2009). The idea of a worldwide, religious community across all borders, languages, ethnicity, nationality and spatial distance is referred to as the ‘ummah’ and is still regarded an important concept in Islam but Islamic doctrine has to be considered the most important representation of discourse in the debate about Islamization and anti-Islam (Weidner, 2010).
In Australia we have been told that the Sydney based imam Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali of the Lakemba mosque is an Islamic leader and he referred to himself as the Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand (Kerbaj, 2006). He retired in 2007 but before he did he made his mark by making reference to a number of gang rapes by Muslim men blaming the women and describing them as meat (Kerbaj, 2006).
Sheik Hilali said: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the
garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose
fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?” (Kerbaj, 2006 p.1).
The Australian National Imams Council has unanimously appointed Ibrahim Abu Muhammed to the role of grand mufti and patriarch after his predecessor, al-Hilali stepped down (Damouny, 2013). The Grand Mufti is not considered a voice for all but speaks for many of Australia’s 2.2% now 500 000 Muslims (Damouny, 2013). He says he is there to safe guard the values of Islam in Australia but he has been criticised for not speaking English (Damouny, 2013). When discussing Australia’s national anti-terror laws Muhammed was mostly concerned about the privacy of Muslims travelling abroad and said radicals need to be re-educated but not banned from coming home (Damouny, 2013). In 2014 the president of the Australian National Imams Council, Imam Abdel Aziem, has appealed to Islamic religious leaders to speak out against family violence (Safi, 2014). Aziem said “It’s the religious duty upon men to treat their women folk with kindness, respect and mutual love and care. Islam disapproves of oppression and ill treatment of women.” This reconstruction of Islamic teaching from a Muslim feminist perspective had been long awaited as the subject of family violence was a taboo for 14 years according to the executive director of the Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights, Joumanah El Matrah (Safi, 2014).
In 2010 the Muslim population of the EU was 13 million making up only 6% of the greater demographic with projections of immigration estimating they will make up 8% by 2030 (Hackett, 2015). Some Muslims have been integrating successfully but many have been living in what critics call separate, subsidized worlds, ghettoes with traditional tribal elements, Islamic values prevailing over European values especially in the crucial domain of women’s and girl’s rights (Lebl, 2010). Elements of sharia have been replacing Western law and ‘no go’ zones are emerging so that even European authorities dare not enter (Lebl, 2010). Kern (2011) confirms that the ‘no go’ zones function as microstates governed by Islamic law and authorities have lost control over these areas so that in many instances they are unable to provide public aid such as police, fire and ambulance services (Kern, 2011). The ‘no go’ zones have been seen as the by product of decades of multiculturalist policies that have encouraged immigrants to create parallel societies and remain segregated rather than integrated into their host nations (Kern, 2011). The sharia ‘no go’ zones are prolific and involve large swathes of Muslim neighbourhoods which are extensive in Britain, France, Germany, Begium, Netherlands and Sweden (Kern, 2015). Police in Sweden have mapped and reported extensively on 55 ‘no go’ zones, where law enforcement has all but handed control to criminal gangs, saying that gang violence, rape, daily arson, bank robberies, gun fueled shootouts, drug peddling and human trafficking have become common due to Muslim immigration (Daneilsson, 2014). Kern (2015) reports the problem is escalating especially in France with terrorism, waring Muslim gangs, drug trafficking, fire arm availability, lawlessness, mob attacks on police who risk fatal shootings, Islamic fundamentalism and communalism. Lebl (2010) reports massive violations of women’s rights with family honour taking precedence over self determination of females. Women going into these zones receive death threats if they do not wear a veil, some mosques in France have begun broadcasting sermons and chants of Allahu Akbar via loudspeakers into the streets of the zones, police and fire fighters have been pelted by rocks and there has been massive youth unemployment of up to 80% (Kern, 2011). There are media reports and research findings about these zones stating that there is a flourishing of child sex abuse, female genital mutilation, honour killings, household slavery of young women, physical abuse, gang rape, domestic violence, extremism and sexual grooming of young girls (Lebl, 2010). The ‘no go’ zones are known as mini caliphates and Islamic states featuring polygamy, hudud punishments, bans on criticism of Islam, Salafist patrols (guardians of public morals) posing as sharia police and anti-semitism (Lebl, 2010; Kern, 2014). PEGIDA Australia have posted on Facebook ” ‘no go’ zones not wanted in Australia” echoed by Daniel Nalliah of Rise Up Australia anti-Islamization party, whilst Tim Blair of the Daily Telegraph says that Lakemba NSW is already a seething hot-bed of radical Islam and anti-woman, anti-infidel hatred (Parkin, 2014; Fife-Yeoman, 2013).
Shahin Mehdi is an Islamic Mufti in Copenhagen in 2004 sparked a political outcry from the left wing Unity List and right wing Danish People Party by stating in an interview that women who don’t wear a head scarf are “asking for rape” (Fjordman, 2005). Reports claim that Sweden had the highest Muslim population in Europe and said the Swedish National Crime Prevention Council Bra have studied rape in relation to immigration (Fjordman, 2005). It is stated that in the first seven months of 2013, over 1,000 Swedish women reported having been raped by Muslim immigrants in the capital of Stockholm (Edwards, 2014). Over 300 of those raped were under the age of 15 (Edwards, 2014). The number of rapes was up 16% that year compared to 2012 with a large proportion of the increase including rape of pre-teen girls (Edwards, 2014). A number of sites repeat the story that in Sweden it is 4 times more likely that a rapist will be an immigrant from Algiers, Libya, Morocco or Tunisia attributing a phenomenon of ‘Rape Jihad’ directly to Muslim immigration (Fjordman, 2005). In Norway, Denmark, Sweden and UK new reports claim sexual assaults have sky rocketed after countries opened their borders to multiculturalism (Watson, 2015). There are numerous reports like this that support each other by saying that there is a rape epidemic sweeping Europe that is primarily being perpetrated by Muslim men from Africa, Middle East and Asia (Watson, 2015). Watson (2015) refers to a controversy in 2012 where 1400 mostly young white girls as young as 11 in Rotherham UK were groomed, trafficked, beaten and sexually abused by rape gangs of Pakistani Muslim men. The local UK Labour government, council and police covered up this issue for 15 years because they said they were afraid of being characterized as racist or politically incorrect and instead the girls were labelled liars, stupid, naughty and ignored after being raped and beaten (Watson, 2015). The question arises about whether we can morally racialise the issue but the fact remains that there were 8 different groups of only Muslim Pakistani men with 56 convicted of sexual grooming in Oldham, Rotherham, Derby, Nelson, Telford, Rochdale and Oxford (Sardar, 2013). There is a religious and cultural context, which encouraged these men to see young white women as ‘fair game’ or ‘pieces of meat’ that could be legitimately exploited according to authorities exceedingly respected in Islamic global culture (Sardar, 2013). Other reports read there is a pattern of excessive child rape and molestation committed in the UK that we should be concerned about with a 95% incidence of Muslim convictions in relation to non-Muslims between 1997 and 2013 (Rogers, 2013). Andrew Norfolk was awarded the Orwell Prize for Journalists, Britain’s most prestigious prize for political writing, for breaking the shocking story on the Muslim grooming gangs in the UK (Rogers, 2013).
In Australia the term ‘no go’ zone has been appropriated into a Foreign Fighters Bill that makes it illegal for Australian citizens to enter an area designated as where a terrorist organization like ISIS is engaged in Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq (Yaxley, 2014). A website says it’s a cause for concern that 25 737 terrorist attacks have been committed by Muslims
at a rate of about 5 per day since 9/11 (TRP, 2015). Those listed are deadly violence committed out of religious duty as determined by the perpetrator (TRP, 2015). In the Middle East there is escalating sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya involving militia and arms from Lebanon, Iran and Saudi Arabia (Bishara, 2015). A report by UNRWA provides evidence based diagnosis of the Syrian war and the death toll is estimated at 210 000, with 840 000 wounded, 6.8 million people live as internally displaced persons, and 1.55 million have migrated as refugees whilst 80% of Syrians now live in poverty (UNRWA, 2015). The report hopes to be a tool for support, building alternatives to break the cycle of violence and subjugating powers through a framework grounded in respect for human dignity (UNRWA, 2015). Other reports say 3.9 million have fled the Syrian and Iraq conflicts and 10 million are displaced (UNHCR, 2015; AEDT, 2015). The conflict in Syria started in 2011 with protests against alawite Shia Bashar al Assad’s regime and a responding crackdown on the sunni protesters who the president accused of sedition and called terrorists (UNRWA, 2015). Several writers have described the rise of ISIS as resulting from a power vacuum in Syria and Iraq being filled by fanatical Islamists (UNRWA, 2015). Up to 40 Australian women are known to have taken part in or supported terrorist activity in Syria, Iraq and Australia, including becoming jihadi brides despite the knowledge that women and girls are being used as sex slaves and suicide bombers by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (McDonald, 2015). In 2015 several NGO’s including OWFI wrote:
ISIL fighters started……
….. abducting women and girls in Mosul and Tel Afir.
Once detained, women must convert to ISIL’s extremist interpretation of Islam. They
are then sold as brides to Islamist fighters in an open market held in former bazaars
and cinema buildings. If they refuse to convert, the punishment is daily rape—in some
instances by dozens of men over the course of only a few hours—and a slow death
(OWFI, MADRE, IWHR & CUNY, 2015 p.2).
ISIS has published a book which is a manual for its fighters on how to rape slave girls even if they have not reached puberty (Taher, 2014). The document, published by the Research and Fatwa Department of Islamic State, applies to unbelieving women, Christians and Jews describing the women and girls status as property of a master to be bought, sold or given as presents and includes how to beat them (Taher, 2014). A report by the UN(2014) details gender based violence, sexual violence by IS in Iraq saying the sexual violence perpetrated is often targeted at minority groups, ethnic, religious groups and Yazidi’s who have been abducted, tortured, raped and murdered. The women and girls in areas under the control of IS have to obey strict codes of behaviour including being fully covered, veiled and are restricted to only leaving their homes with a male relative (UN, 2014). There are tales of Syrian refugee girls as young as 12 who have escaped to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey being bought and sold to old Arabs from Saudi Arabia for 1 or 2 hundred dollars as ‘temporary brides’ and then resold (Crimi, 2013). In the context of this extreme crime of discrimination, paedophilia and rape occurring, Saudi Arabia’s religious leader, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Asheikh, has confirmed that he does not plan to restrict the minimum age for marriage for women (Maloof, 2015). This contravenes a recent proposal from the country’s Ministry of Justice hoping to secure the minimum age for marriage of girls in Saudi to 15 years (Maloof, 2015). Boko Haram Islamist militant group in Nigeria has abducted at least 2000 girls and women to use as sex slaves, servants, suicide bombers and fighters since the beginning of 2014 according to Amnesty International (Al Jazeera, 2015). Boko Haram means western education is not allowed and militants often target Christians (A.J, 2015). More than 5,500 civilians have been killed by their insurgency and more than 1.5 million people, including 800,000 children, have fled their homes due to the violence (A.J, 2015). Sectarian violence between Islamic groups especially shia and sunni erupts in occasional outbursts with Taliban bombings directed at school children, churches and mosques in and Pakistan (Bishara, 2015). Al-Shabaab in Somalia typify some of the agendas of terrorist militia by advocating for the Saudi-inspired Wahhabi strand of sunni Islam, while most Somalis and many Muslims in east Africa have long embraced the more tolerant Sufi Islam (Mutiga, 2015). Determination by different factions of Islam to impose their brand of sharia on another sect or religious group has been inspiring heavy conflict in Africa and the Middle East since Mohammed went to Medina (Bonner, 2006). This jihad can be expressed as an attachment to local traditional misogynist values and resistance against the homogenizing trends of contemporary globalization (Bonner, 2006). Muslim Jihad can also represent a universal, globalizing force of its own, Islamization but still about this there is a wide spectrum of views (Bonner, 2006). Some say anti-Islamic polemicists use jihad as proof of Islam’s innate violence and its incompatibility with civilized democratic norms (Bonner, 2006). Trying to instil in anti-Islamists that Islam is a religion of peace isn’t working, it only makes them more adamant that the governments in the west have a major agenda to disguise the seemingly intrinsic violence within this massive cult and its adherents (Bilgrami, 2003). Islam is perceived as a religion at war with itself, females and everyone else (Bishara, 2015). Zakaria (2014) wrote “there is a cancer of extremism within Islam today,” but is that anything new?
“A small minority of Muslims celebrate violence and intolerance and harbour deeply
reactionary attitudes towards women and minorities. While some confront these
extremists, not enough do so, and the protests are not loud enough.”(Zakaria, 2014 cited in
Miller, 2014p.1 ).
Some say the protests from within the Islamic community weren’t loud enough following the massacre at Charlie Hebdo in Paris that was an objection to free speech (Bishara, 2015). The reaction by Je Suis Charlie rallies drawing a million against terrorism in Paris 2015 were impressive but weren’t directed strongly enough towards the issue of Islamization itself for those who attribute Islamic violence to the teachings of Mohammed (Bishara, 2015; Zakaria, 2014). The following riots, killings of Christians and protests around the world against the makers of mere Hedbo cartoons highlighted the irrational nature and extent of Islam’s extremes (Zakaria, 2014). Germany saw some support for anti-Islamist rallies in Dresden by Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Gather In Democratic Assembly) attracting crowds of up 25 000 apparently ordinary people alarmed by a rise in refugee arrivals linked to global Islamic violence (Robinson, 2015). The anti-Islamists with a banner reading No Sharia Law in Europe were associated with Nazism even though many support Israel and the movement seeks to protect women’s rights and Judeo-Christian culture (Robinson, 2015). Sure there are extreme right wing gangs and a neo-Nazi National Democratic Party but to characterize groups like Pegida as totally or mostly neo-Nazi is unlikely to be accurate (Robinson, 2015). Like many western democracies large scale immigration in Germany over several decades was thought to be needed to offset an ageing population but brought some side effects (Hill, 2014). Pegida says it is against radicalism and hate preachers and calls for stricter immigration controls rejecting simplistic claims that it is just xenophobic or racist (Robinson, 2015). Like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands Lutz Bachmann of Pegida said he sought to protect Germanys Jewish-Christian roots that have shaped their constitution determined by humanism and enlightenment which assumes he supports an evolution from Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft in Muslim quarters (Foucault, 1984; Goldmann , 2010). Pegida have now held rallies in Canada, Spain, Scotland, UK, Czech Republic, Denmark and Norway and sympathiser groups have formed in European countries such as Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and in Australia (Robinson, 2015). Anti-immigration politician Nicolai Sennel’s of the Danish Peoples Party at a Pegida march said their goal is to give the middle class a chance to express their concerns about violent Islam and to send a signal to politicians that they are worried (Robinson, 2015). Reclaim Australia (a bit like Reclaim the Night) anti-Islamists rallying in Australia in 2015 carrying placards stating ‘No FGM’, ‘No Sharia Law’, ‘Ban the Burka’, ‘No Halal Certification’, ‘No More Mosques’ were accused of racism, hatefulness, fear and failing to separate moderate Muslims from radicals as if they have the job to do so or even the capacity (Durkhanai, 2015). Anti-Islamist Reclaim Australia say our women are equal, reclaim equality of law, reclaim gender equality, no sharia, reclaim free speech and seem determined in their discourse to prevent the misogyny of Islam subjugating other Australian women who don’t feel safe enough in their legal equality when confronted by the pro-Islam counter ralliers or bloggers (Brull, 2015). At the Newcastle Reclaim Australia Rally in NSW there was a crowd of Muslim men in a counter protest shouting Ayaan Hirsi Ali burn in hell, burn in hell as a mantra (ABC News, 2015).
The transnational feminist paradigm that favours the human rights and equality of women and girls demands discourses, incorporating ethics of care, urgently to subvert the male dominant anti-female constructions of sharia and Islamic doctrine promoting violence (Parekh, & Wilcox, 2014; UNRWA, 2015). The current male dominant paradigm assumes that women and girls in Australia must submit to the authenticity of the Prophet Mohammed as a moral guide or be insulted as Islamophobic (Ali, 2006 & Durkhanai, 2015). The evidence for our submission exists in the signs and symbols of Islam in our communities – Islamic schools, mosques, halal certified foods and slaughter houses, niqabs, hijabs in the street and the media, imams and muftis in cahoots with our politicians, admissions of practicing sharia on the internet, incoming Muslim migrants, Islamic organisations, sharia lawyers and prayer rooms in our universities (Gole, 2012 & Krayem, 2013). The morality of the personality of Mohammed needs to be disputed as problems like FGM, paedophilia, child marriage, rape, honour violence, terrorism, slavery and murder are against our laws (S.A. 2005). The right to freedom of religion in relation to Islam and gender equality for girls and women in Australia and internationally has presented us with an ethical dilemma that should be resolved publically with transparency (Ehrich, Cranston, & Kimber, 2015). The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child says that we should prioritise the rights of children in our discourses and actions and in this case the focus is the girl child (UNCRC, 2010). The UN post 2015 framework is an opportunity to ensure that girl’s rights are front and centre in the global development agenda to effectively prevent and address violence (UN, 2015 b.). Our agenda in Australia should address inequalities that heighten the risks of violence, abuse and exploitation of girls bringing to justice those responsible for acts, including physical and emotional violence, child sexual abuse and exploitation (UN, 2015 b.). Promoting the Prophet Mohammed as morally superior can be constructed as institutional and private child grooming towards paedophilia and sets girls up for further exploitation like honour related oppression or violence and should be made illegal in all nations (UNICEF, 2014; UNICEF, 2010, & S.A. 2005). Support for the legitimacy of Islam intrinsically assumes the personality and actions of the prophet are being supported as a dominant discourse and this is not democratic in line with women and girls human rights and equality as is expressed normally in our legal system (Richardson, 2013; S.A. 2005). There is a political struggle for the rights of women and girls internationally and Islamic forces advocating for sharia threaten the equality and respect for all females and human life generally so anti-Islamists globally are taking risks by using free speech to engage people in solidarity against Islam (Richardson, 2013; Warner, 2015). Muslim women and girls are suffering stagnation in their evolutionary development towards equality due to their own androcentric submission to sharia either voluntarily or involuntarily all over the world (Alikarmi, 2014). Violent conflicts over the legitimacy of schools of sharia, authority to impose sharia on others is displacing, maiming and killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims and other groups in Africa and the Middle East (UNRWA, 2015). Displaced people are migrating to the west including Australia bringing their ideology and moral designs with them (UNRWA, 2015). International experiences have demonstrated that Islamization brings underground sharia and Islamic values to western societies that threatens, maims and kills females (Lebl, 2010). Muslims are reknown for demanding formalised sharia and halal financial deals to help build mosques and expand the ummah therefore sharia influences (Hussain, 2011; Krayem, 2010). Discourses about these phenomena are challenged because of the assumed unity of the ummah in contrast with the diversity of individual discourses by specific Muslims creating misconceptions about anti-Islamists politically (Krayem, 2013). An integrationist approach to Islam in Australia could ask that citizens restrict the practices of their minority religion that cause civil unrest to the private domain (Jain, 2005). Australian women with girls should declare unambiguously the superiority of the right to gender equality over demands by religious or cultural groups that endanger us (Jain, 2005).
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