Thursday, October 26, 2006

Mufti's Sexist Comments Create Storm.

By Neville D' Cruz

A senior Muslim cleric is facing a storm of criticism and has been urged to leave Australia after saying immodestly dressed women provoke sexual attacks, the Australian Associated Press reports.

Australian Mufti Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali has enraged Muslim women and the wider community by comparing women to meat left out in the street that only has itself to blame if eaten by animals.

Islamic community leaders quickly moved to distance themselves from the comments, reported in "The Australian" newspaper but which were made during a Ramadan sermon to 500 worshippers in Sydney last month.

"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," the sheik told the congregation. "The uncovered meat is the problem. "If she was in her room at her home, in her hijab (Islamic headdress), no problem would have occurred," he said.

Sheik Alhilali also spoke of women who "sway suggestively" and wear immodest dress, appearing to suggest rapists are not entirely to blame.

Islamic Friendship Council of Australia president Keysar Trad said the sheik's comments had been misrepresented although he admitted his analogies could have been better.

"From what I understand, he was talking about the context of encouraging people to abstinence before getting married. His references to exposed meat was a very poor example that was meant to be a reference to both men and women, he wasn't talking about Islamic dress, he wasn't talking about rape," he said.

But a former member of the Australian Government's Muslim Advisory Board, Iktimal Hage-Ali, said she had listened to a recording of Sheik Alhilali's speech and believed he should be stripped of his position. "I was just flabbergasted," she told ABC radio.

Waleed Aly, from the Islamic Council of Victoria, predicted a backlash against Muslims, saying: "I am expecting a deluge of hate mail. I am expecting people to get abused in the street and get abused at work."

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward believes the comments are an incitement to crime. "Young Muslim men who now rape women can cite this in court, can quote this man...their leader in court," she told the TV Nine Network.

She wants him to go but did not make clear whether she wanted him to leave the country or step down as a leader of the Islamic community. "It's time we stopped just saying he should apologise. It is time the Islamic community did more than say they are horrified. I think it is time he left," Goward said.

Victorian Liberal backbencher Sophie Mirabella wants the sheik to consider moving back to the Middle East. "I have a message for Sheik Alhilali: This is Australia, not Iran, and violence and degradation of women are not acceptable," she said.

More senior members of government are also scathing. "Certainly I think if a religious leader in the Catholic Church or the Anglican Church or in Judaism is to make these sort of statements, they would be getting a very severe rap over the knuckles, at the very least," Health Minister Tony Abbott told the Nine Network. Treasurer Peter Costello urged other Muslims to pull the sheik into line." I hope moderate Muslim leaders will speak out today and condemn these comments," he told the TV Seven Network. Opposition Leader Kim Beazley said the sheik's comments were offensive and must be corrected by the Islamic community.

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma said the sheik did not have a good track record on making statements about women. Iemma said Sheik Alhilali had made such comments before. "He doesn't has a clean record as far as these sort of statements are concerned and what's in the paper this morning is offensive and outrageous and ought to be condemned. "To me in some way suggest you can justify sexual attacks on women on the basis of how they might walk or dress is outrageous," Iemma told reporters.


The views expressed above sound a lot like those of our Tok Guru Dato' Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, Menteri Besar of Kelantan. And just as one was feeling nice reading Mahaguru58's post on The Reality of the Status of Women in Islam and those in Christianity and Judaism.


Anonymous Testa said...

I think the more significant part of the analogy was not that women were compared to meat - it was that rapists were compared to cats. Mufti's analogy appears to treat humans on the same level as mere animals, as if they MUST give in to their urges.

This is not true. Humans should be held to higher standards; even if there really was "uncovered meat", they should resist the urge to eat it. Hence, comparing rapists to cats is invalid, and only serves to diminish their culpability.

7:14 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Shai-Hulud said...

Hahaahahaha! Does this sound familiar or what? :D
"'The board is satisfied with the notion that certain statements made by the mufti was MISINTERPRETED,' Tom Zreika, head of the Lebanese Muslim Association, told local radio."

"Howard, who had hoped an outcry over al-Hilali's defence of rape would force the mufti to resign, expressed frustration.

'What has to happen in relation to this man is that the issue has to be resolved by his own community,' Howard said. 'He was not expressing Australian values, I can say without fear of contradiction that what he said is repugnant to Australian values.'"

Oh dear... is that's the 'silent cough moderate cough majority'??

2:02 AM GMT+8  

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