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The Independent: Rape in marriage: Islam doesn’t tolerate rape

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Letter published in The Independent, 15 Oct 2010, here

Islam doesn’t tolerate rape

I was appalled by the assertion by Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, president of the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain, that rape within marriage is “impossible” and that men who rape their wives should not be prosecuted because “sex is part of marriage”. Sex is indeed a part of marriage, but rape is not. Rape is a type of violence expressed through sexual assault; it has nothing to do with sex, love or intimacy.

Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said: “The best amongst you are those who are best to their wives.” How this cleric believes his assertions fit with the preceding statement is unfathomable. Rape within marriage constitutes domestic violence and should be treated with the same severity.

Allegations that many rape victims are lying betray a most cavalier attitude to this serious and heinous crime.

His statement that “in Islamic Sharia, rape is adultery by force” is misleading. The Sharia is a body of law which can be interpreted in differing ways, much like any other body of law. This is not the “Sharia” position on this issue, but Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed’s. This not an issue of Sharia law being in contradiction with British law, but rather of the Sheikh’s interpretation of Sharia being in contradiction with universal principles of justice and fairness.

Until Muslim scholars wake up to the reality that rape is not and never will be adultery (which is voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a partner other than the lawful spouse), we will continue to let women down and betray the fundamental ideals of our noble faith.

Myriam Francois-Cerrah, Oxford University Islamic Society

Written by Myriam Francois

October 15, 2010 at 23:06

The Times: Banning veils is not an option

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Terrorism has as much to do with Islam as Abu Ghraib does with Western culture

Sir, Lord Pearson of Rannoch (letter, Jan 20) could not be more wrong. Airport authorities consistently check the identity of women wearing a veil by asking them to lift the garment when going through airport security. They do so with full co-operation of the women involved, and rightfully so. Failures in this regard demand an investigation into airport security, not women who happen to wear a veil. Terrorism has as much to do with Islam as Abu Ghraib does with Western culture; there is not a single ideological outlook in the world that hasn’t been abused to justify atrocities.

Sharia, or Islamic law, is a complex set of legal maxims which, while requiring inspired and enlightened application, can hardly be described as “gender apartheid”. Historically, Muslim women have been an integral and active part of Islamic civilisation, partaking in business transactions, such as the Prophet’s own wife Khadija, participating in battle like Aicha or founding centres of Islamic learning, such as the University of al-Karaouine, established in 859 by Fatima al-Fihri. While the vast majority of Muslims shun the face veil and a number of scholars do not consider it to be a requirement of Muslim dress, Britain is ruled by a liberal system of law, not an Islamic one.

Banning the face veil is not an option if Britain aims to remain a liberal country that cherishes its individual freedom and revels in the richness diversity brings to our nation. UKIP and its BNP kindred spirits are symptomatic of a societal malaise that requires us to fight back all together against ignorance, discrimination and hate, and not sink into the defensive posture of rejection that their vitriolic discourse feeds on.

Myriam François-Cerrah
Oxford University Islamic Society

January 22, 2010

Written by Myriam Francois

January 17, 2010 at 23:08