Denmark: Criticism of Islamic ideology is not anti-Muslim

Denmark: Criticism of Islamic ideology is not anti-Muslim

The following article repeats the views expressed by Norwegian Prof. Unni Wikan in her book "Generous Betrayal: Politics of Culture in the New Europe" (which I reviewed here).  Westerners are not doing Muslims a favor by accepting cultural norms they wouldn't accept for 'their own'.  The idea that we need to 'understand' culture and that 2nd generation Muslims in Europe are not allowed the same rights to choose their destiny for themselves just like any other European is simply racism.


Shortly before Christmas, the head of the Free Press Society (FPS), Lars Hedegaard, said some grossly generalizing statements about violence, rape and incest in Muslim families in an interview on the Snaphanen blog, which he really deserved to be lambasted for.  He got that, and more.
Under no circumstances should insulting generalizations about group of people happen.  Hedegaard also regretted it and corrected for that.  But in the middle of the public scandal, it shouldn't be overlooked that Hedegaard has identified a serious problem not just for integration of Muslims in modern Western culture, but for the entire Muslim world, namely women's lack of equality and the widespread violence against women and children within the Muslim cultural sphere.

It's naturally necessary to provide documentation for his claims, which the FPS's net paper Sappho later did.  Below we will supplement this documentation, as relating to Lars Hedegaard's statements on violence, rape and sexual abuse of women and children in the Muslim context.

Danish-Pakistani researcher Anusheh Hussain argues in an article about sexual abuse of children in Pakistan (1997), that though research on sexual violence against children in Pakistan is limited, it's a widely practiced phenomenon.  Studies conducted in the Punjab show that 62.5% of children have been sexually assaulted.

She thinks that these assaults come from the prevailing culture and is reinforced by the general imbalance in the power-relations between children and adults.  It's therefore no longer possible to consider sexual assault against children as 'deviant behavior' simply exercised by a few 'psychopaths'.

In Hussain's opinion, sexual assaults of children is a consequence of the highly repressive social order, where the the patriarchal structure together with the hypocritical sexual norms support the exploitation of the vulnerable.  Though the family is considered sacred, it is precised in the family where most of the assaults against children take place.  But it is kept quiet for the sake of family honor.  This is the reason that incest is the least reported form of sexual assault.

An Amnesty International report from 2009 shows that violence against women in Pakistan, both in the private sphere as well as in police custody, is extremely bestial.  Just one example is the description of 24 year old Zainab Noor, whose husband bound her and put a red-hot iron on her stomach.  Women are subjected to slavery, kidnapping, acid attacks, forced marriages, whipping and murder.  A women who reports violence or rape is in great danger of being abused, tortured or raped by the police.

Women's welfare doesn't look better in Iran, according to Human Rights Briefs (1994), which specifically cites the Islamic rule that virgins can't be executed.  Female children are therefore raped before execution.  In Arab countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Algeria, according to Syrian researcher and author Bhouthaina Shaaban's own life experience and her interviews with Muslim women (1988), aren't better than Pakistan or Iran when it comes to grave physical and emotional abuse of women.  And in Somalia women who walk alone in the streets risk being raped by both boys and men.  The genitally mutilated women are opened with a knife before the rape, which not rarely leads to death due to blood-loss and shock. (

In lands where sexuality is a taboo subject, and where women's private parts are predestined for childbirth and men's sexual pleasure, it is significant that it's this part of the women's body which is particularly a target for men's violence.  We can not ignore the fact that the special disdain for women, for which the violence is an expression, is supported by the overall culture's medieval religious traditions.  Numerous passages in the Koran as well as the hadith literature express disdain for women and ascribe women a subordinate status.  Men has the right to beat women and demand total obedience, while the women's religious duty is to always be sexually available for the man (for example, Sura 2, 282; 4, 34; 2, 223).

Attacks on women and children aren't accepted in Western countries.  That doesn't prevent, though, that power and control over women, which is man's privilege in the homeland, are steadily practiced in some patriarchal, Muslim families in the West.  How extensive the abuse is in Denmark can't be quantified.  There are no studies and it will be quite difficult to get scope-research going, when the abuse is concealed and deeply taboo-based.  (see also: Denmark: Muslim women hide rape)

Until then we must avail ourselves of the few existing studies of conditions in the countries of origin as guidelines also for such Muslim immigrant communities in Denmark.  Annual statistics for LOKK (National crisis center organization) shows in any case, a tendency in the direction of over-representation of Muslim women. (See also: Denmark: Shelter reports 70% of women are immigrants)

Muslim women who turn to help in Denmark to the National Hospital Center for Victims of Sexual Assault (Annual Report 2003), express particular fear of the family's reaction.  The strictly enforced sex-segregation requires that unrelated women and men are never alone together.  Therefore it's the women's responsibility that she put herself in an situation where a man can attack her.  (See also: Denmark: Women should stop tempting men)

To report a rape therefore require great courage.  Most rapes are surrounded by the deepest silence.  When the attacks are finally recognized, it's also likely rejected that they have anything to do with Islam.  Nevertheless, we must agree with German-Turkish lawyer Seyran Ates' statement (FrontPage 2005) that she who is a lawyer for women who suffered attacks, must relate to the Islam which exists, and which is interpreted by men.

When Westerners play down the oppression of women by Muslim culture, or think that we shouldn't 'meddle', it reflects cynical condescension, which hands over some of our Muslim women and children to boundless suffering, which we would never tolerate concerning our own women and children.  As a young, forcibly married, raped woman says: "I can't understand that there are Danes who are so gullible that they (...) respect traditions which harm women.  They wouldn't allow it if it were about Danish women, would they?"  (

Likewise, people should characterize it as a form of 'master race racism' when Red Barnet [save the children] in Sweden deleted some 'stigmitizing' sections in a report dealing with honor-related violence, marriages and sexual exploitation in the Middle East, written by Swedish researcher Pernilla Ouis, who at the time was herself a Muslim.  Her conclusions (published on the net in 2008) which Red Barnet wanted to suppress - in exceptional disregard to the victims - correspond very closely with the conclusions in the above referenced reports.

Democratic and humane societies, we pride ourselves of it, should treat all their citizens inclusively and equally, including helping suffering people regardless of their original culture or religious affiliation.  Therefore it's necessary to discard all fears of dealing with the issue and honestly deal with reality.  Criticism of some totalitarian, inhumane and, not least, women-oppressive sides of the Islamic political-religious ideology, as well as behaviors and norms related to this ideology, is not 'anti-Muslim', as is repeatedly mentioned in the public debate.  It is beneficial to our Muslims and their right to equal and well-integrated lives in the West.

Kirsten Sarauw, priest and psychotherapist, and Britta Mogensen, Msc in anthropology.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

See also: Germany: "We Muslims have to lead these discussions, because they are about us"

No comments: