Archive for the ‘Islam and females’ category

Increasing Numbers of Young People Seek Help Against ‘Honour Culture’ Violence

January 15, 2018

Increasing Numbers of Young People Seek Help Against ‘Honour Culture’ Violence, Breitbart,  Chris Tomlinson, January 15, 2018

David Ramos/Getty

Many have speculated on the backgrounds of sex attackers in Sweden as ethnic criminal data is not released to the public. Lawyer Elisabeth Fritz has claimed that the vast majority of suspects in cases she has dealt with have come from migrant backgrounds.

**********************

The number of young people, mainly women, seeking help for honour culture violence has dramatically increased over the last several years with a support worker claiming a 50 per cent increase since 2015.

Dick Baladiz, a manager at Onigo, a Swedish centre designed to help young people suffering honour violence get support, claims that the number of young people coming forward to the centre has dramatically increased, TT reports.

Sara Mohammed from the anti-honour violence nonprofit GAPF claims the violence is becoming far more elaborate, as well. She described an honour killing in Årsta, Stockholm, where a man mutilated a woman’s face.

He cut off her nose, lips, and ears. It has symbolic significance in the culture of honour. The cutting of the ears means that you have not listened to the norms and values,” she said.

Honour culture tends to be the most prevalent in heavily migrant-populated suburbs, according to Baladiz. “In some areas there is repression. The more compatriots in an area, the more pressure there is to live according to the norms of honour and the more watchful eyes,” he said.

240,000 young people in Sweden with migrant backgrounds live under oppressive ‘honour’ culture. http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/05/30/240000-young-people-sweden-migrant-backgrounds-honour-culture/ 

<

A new report has revealed a large number of young people with foreign backgrounds in Sweden are subject to “honour culture” with many being forced into arranged marriages and are at risk of honour killings.

The true scope of honour-related violence is unknown in Sweden though Stockholm University research has claimed that every third student from an immigrant background likely lives under some form of honour culture.

The Swedish government is currently conducting a new survey to determine the pervasiveness of the problem which will be released next year.

Violence against women is increasing in general across Sweden. In the district of Skaraborg, 1 in 5 women say they have been the victims of crimes and police are currently investigating 30 rape incidents that have occurred in the last six months. 

Many have speculated on the backgrounds of sex attackers in Sweden as ethnic criminal data is not released to the public. Lawyer Elisabeth Fritz has claimed that the vast majority of suspects in cases she has dealt with have come from migrant backgrounds.

Sexual Harassment East and West

January 5, 2018

Sexual Harassment East and West, Gatestone InstituteDenis MacEoin, January 5, 2018

“I say that when a girl walks about like that, it is a patriotic duty to sexually harass her and a national duty to rape her.” — Nabih Wahsh, Islamist lawyer, on Egypt’s al-Assema TV, October 19, 2017.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 sparked off increasingly revolutionary movements across the Islamic world, and in the process saw women in many countries denied the freedoms they had started to acquire under earlier regimes. The veil returned widely, notably in Turkey, following the growing power of authoritarian and fundamentalist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with women’s rights being increasingly denied.

We urgently need to drop our unwillingness to contrast Western and Islamic values — whether regarding violence, treatment of religious minorities, anti-Semitism, or treatment of women. There are also growing numbers of Muslims, as we are seeing today in Iran, who find wider Islamic attitudes abhorrent and work hard, mostly against the odds, to bring their faith closer to modern values.

For a time, one could not open a newspaper or visit an online news site without finding yet another scandal about sexual harassment. Lawyers are presumably going to have a field day for years to come. In the UK, a further wave of accusations has shaken an already shaky parliament and the Government, whose Cabinet is increasingly in disarray. In the US Congress, Hollywood and elsewhere, similar claims are still being made, with #MeToo stories being shared by women, while there is an unknown number of accusations in US statehouses.

Sex scandals in the West are far from new.[1] The irony is that this brings us face to face with attitudes to the same problem in the Islamic world.

For many years in the West, it was common practice for sexual harassment and rape among celebrities and public figures to be hushed up. To secure silence, abusers often used bribes or threats. Young women feared the loss of their careers or reputations; in many instances, the police would reject claims of abuse. This happened more than once in the UK, when young victims of “Asian” grooming gangs were not believed by social workers and police; in Europe authorities tried — and still try (see herehere and here) — to cover up harassment and rape committed by Muslim migrants. There will be a lot of work to do to protect women and children from the excesses of so many men.

Just watch and marvel at this short clip from a debate on Egypt’s al-Assema TV, aired on October 19, 2017, or read an English transcript. The Director-General of al-Assema is Brigadier-General Muhammad Samir, a former spokesman for the Egyptian armed forces. His appointment has been criticized on the grounds that it is “a miserable attempt by the military regime authorities to nationalize the media, unify its message, and block any opposing voices against the government”. In that sense, al-Assema represents a semi-official voice.

The debate on Egypt’s al-Assema TV included a lawyer, Nabih [el] Wahsh, an Islamist who has filed countless hesba [2] cases against intellectuals, artists, religious leaders and government ministers for acts he deems immoral or blasphemous. With Wahsh on air were three women: Shadia Thabet, a member of the Egyptian parliament, Abeer Soleiman, a women’s rights activist, and Ashgaan Nabil, a life coach.

Wahsh began by stressing that, regardless of Egypt being a civil state, it had to conform to Islamic religious rules and norms. On that basis, he engages in an argument which leads him to the following confrontation with Soleiman, whom he effectively silences by bullying her:

Nabih Wahsh: “Are you happy when you see a girl walking down the street with half of her behind showing?”

Abeer Suleiman: “Do you think that we don’t care about our girls?”

Nabih Wahsh: “I say that when a girl walks about like that, it is a patriotic duty to sexually harass her and a national duty to rape her.”

Abeer Suleiman: “No, no, no, no! I totally oppose this kind of talk. This is sexual harassment live on air…”

Nabih Wahsh: “It is a national duty to rape such a girl! What she allows herself to do constitutes depravity.”

Egyptian lawyer Nabih Wahsh recently advocated on television for sexual harassment and rape in retaliation for the temptation caused by uncovered women. (Image source: MEMRI)

This open espousal by a lawyer of sexual harassment and rape in retaliation for the temptation caused by uncovered women was backed by a heavily-covered member of parliament and followed by a “life coach” urging ten-year prison terms for homosexuals — all during a television broadcast — would, of course, finish their careers anywhere in the Western world within minutes. Men behave badly in Europe and the United States, and some very badly indeed; but to boast publicly about wishing to do so would be unthinkable.[3]

In the West, however, women have been fighting back for generations. The rise of sane feminism (as distinct from its shrill and politically-correct cousin)[4] has elevated the status of women in all the democracies and given courage to the many women who now find themselves empowered to call out powerful men who have sexually abused, groped and raped them.

There are feminists in the Islamic world. Countless books have been written about them and the growth of feminism in countries from Egypt and Iran to Indonesia. During the twentieth century, progress in establishing women’s rights was made in several places: the veil was abandoned, more women moved into professional life and even into politics — notably, the assassinated Benazir Bhutto, the first Muslim woman democratically elected (twice) as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Real advances, nevertheless, have been slow. Even as things were starting to improve for women, religious minorities, and others in some countries, such as Turkey, the Salafi style of fundamentalist Islam, based on a demand to return to the practices of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the first three generations of his followers (salaf means “predecessors”), was already underway from the early years of the twentieth century, notably through the work of the Egyptian writer Rashid Rida. For Rida, and later for Salafis down to the Islamic State enterprise, reform meant turning away from the Western models that had inspired new legislation, and back to the earliest days of Islam as embodied in the Qur’an, the ahadith (sayings and acts of the prophet), and the biographies of Muhammad. In 1928, another Egyptian, the schoolteacher Hasan al-Banna, established the Muslim Brotherhood, the leading revivalist movement in Islam since the 1920s, which remains to this day a major international force for reviving fundamentalist Islam.

Ironically, one prominent individual to have been caught up in the current wave of harassment revelations is Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University. Ramadan’s grandfather was none other than Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Masquerading as the respectable voice of modern Islamic thought and practice, Ramadan has been exposed by several writers as a front for the Brotherhood and its anti-Western values. French journalist Caroline Fourest published an exposé, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, in which she shows how he says one thing to his Western audience and quite another to Muslims in France and abroad.

The American author Paul Berman wrote clearly of this in a long article about Tariq Ramadan in New Republic:

Ramadan’s harsher critics would argue that in speaking… the way he did on these abstract and historical questions, not to mention on his grandfather’s ideals, he was cagily deploying a “double discourse” — a language intended to deceive Western liberals about the grain of his own thought. An accusation of “double discourse” has dogged Ramadan for many years in France. It is a chief complaint against him, and a big source of anxiety among his critics. Fourest, in Brother Tariq, documents what appears to be rather a lot of “double discourse,” instances in which Ramadan appears to have said one thing to the general public and something else to his Muslim audiences.

In his many books and lectures, Ramadan has promoted the worldview of the hardline Brotherhood while posing as a Western-style philosopher in tune with modern liberal values. That is the basis for his duplicity: the Islam he promulgates in carefully phrased and disingenuous terms has nothing in common with Western values at all. It is this ability to pull the wool over the eyes of thinkers and politicians, a deception that has given him a professorship at Oxford University, that makes him a truly dangerous individual.

In addition to Caroline Fourest’s series of articles in the French journal Marianne, detailing Ramadan’s use of sexual harassment, rape, and general misogynist practices, he has also been accused by the American academic Phyllis Chesler “of having violently raped, battered, humiliated, confined, and death threatened them [his victims] if they talked”.

In response to these claims, Oxford University acted promptly, placing him on leave while his predations are investigated and, as seems likely, subjected to criminal charges. Not surprisingly, as the journalist Abigail Esman has pointed out:

Tariq Ramadan’s many fans – more than 600,000 people follow him on Twitter and he has more than 2 million Facebook followers – have had plenty to say. He is innocent, they are certain. In their comments on both social media sites, they assure him that Allah will protect him. The women are liars, or part of a conspiracy: against Muslims, against the Muslim leader himself, against Islam – all the insidious, but entirely predictable, work of the world’s Jews.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979 sparked off increasingly more revolutionary movements across the Islamic world, and in the process saw women in many countries, across the Islamic world, denied the freedoms they had started to acquire under earlier regimes. The veil returned widely, notably in Turkey, following the growing power of authoritarian and fundamentalist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with women’s rights being increasingly denied. Erdogan recently condemned Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad ibn Salman’s vow to engender a “moderate Islam,” calling it a fake Islam supposedly imposed by the West.

Men in Western democracies certainly have much to be ashamed of; the women who call out predators are right to do so. If identifying powerful figures who manipulate vulnerable women will help create a more level playing field for both sexes in countries that have worked hard to put all citizens on a basis of equality, it cannot but be a boon for democracy. Whatever we have done wrong, we have also done much to rectify distortions in our societies. The very fact that in the West, such men are considered shameful and contrary to our better values is itself a sign of how far things have changed.

The Islamic world in general remains enmeshed in ancient attitudes, going backwards rather than forwards, despite sterling efforts by various reformers to confront patriarchy in several Muslim countries, efforts backed by many Muslim women.[5] Those attitudes are rooted in a wide range of assaults on women and their lives: female genital mutilation (FGM) sanctioned by religious tradition; honor killings even for girls who have been raped; legally-enforced marriage to a woman’s rapistfloggings and stonings for women suspected of marital or pre-marital adultery, or even who have been raped; veiling; marital rape; and denial of independence (a woman must always be subject to a male guardian – father, brother, uncle, male cousin — whose permission is needed for most things). Beyond this, it has always been permissible for Muslim men to capture or buy non-Muslim women as sex slaves, as we have seen recently with Boko Haram and Islamic State, and in Saudi ArabiaMauritania, Singapore, Sudan, Mauritius, Libya, the United States and Europe.

Muslim men, however, have enormous freedoms. They may marry four women; they can divorce a wife by merely pronouncing “I divorce you”; if they are Shi’is, they can take temporary wives through nikah mut’a,[6] (“pleasure marriage”), that can be contracted for hours or months or years, and as easily terminated. If they are Sunnis, they can take temporary wives through nikah misyar, (“traveller’s marriage”), used in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to allow men to keep wives in towns they visit from time to time or, more widely, by married men who seek legal mistresses.

Polygamy continues to be popular, even for Muslim men living in the West. A website set up by British businessman Azad Chaiwala, “Secondwife.com“, which enables men to find further wives in the way non-Muslims use dating sites, has over 100,000 members, including 25,000 in the UK. Although polygamy in Britain carries a seven-year prison term for men, the Muslim version is seemingly exempt as it is considered a religious arrangement. Muslim men in Britain and on the Continent are never prosecuted as polygamists, even though Islamic marriage laws place women in jeopardy in respect of divorce and child custody. The government has even encouraged polygamous marriages to be contracted abroad, and at one point offered £10,000 in benefits for families with four wives.

We urgently need to drop our unwillingness to contrast Western and Islamic values — whether regarding violence, treatment of religious minorities, anti-Semitism, or treatment of women. It is not only non-Muslim Westerners who are entitled to make such comparisons — there are also growing numbers of Muslims, as we are seeing today in Iran, who find wider Islamic attitudes abhorrent and work hard, mostly against the odds, to bring their faith closer to modern values.

Many Western politicians, churchmen and sundry do-gooders choose to find no fault in Islam and describe any form of criticism as “Islamophobia” — even punishing honest critics of the religion or the actions of some of its followers for daring to breach the code of silence and multicultural acquiescence. These would-be moralists do no favours to us, to Muslim women and children, or to Muslim reformers. Ours is not a perfect civilization. But crying mea culpa, while passing over the problems of a civilization that also has faults, does not seem the way to assuage a communal guilt.

Dr. Denis MacEoin taught Islamic Studies at a UK university, has published books and articles on Islamic themes, and contributed to academic encyclopedias dealing with the subject, such as the second edition of the massive Encyclopedia of Islam. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.


[1] The harm they do has been dissected by Northwestern University professor Laura Kipniss, in her study How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior, New York, 2010, and in her recent exposure of witch hunts in US colleges, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, New York, 2017.

[2] Hesba or hisba is the duty to identify and prevent or punish contraventions of Islamic law in Muslim states.

[3] To give credit to the Egyptian government, Wahsh was arrested for these remarks and is currently serving a three-year prison term. See here.

[4] For an intelligent discussion of the differences, see Christina Hoff Sommers, Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women, New York, 1995.

[5] Note, in particular, Ida Lichter, Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices against Oppression, Amherst, NY, 2009. See here.

[6] For a full academic account, see Shahla Haeri, Law of Desire: Temporary Marriage in Shi’i Iran, rev. ed., Syracuse University Press, 2014; and see Sachiko Murata, Temporary Marriage in Islamic Law, privately published, 2017.

Britain: The “Islamophobia” Industry Strikes Again

December 20, 2017

Britain: The “Islamophobia” Industry Strikes Again, Gatestone InstituteBruce Bawer, December 20, 2017

The new report is a remarkable document. Among its premises is that “anti-Muslim hate crime” is a major crisis in the U.K. that demands urgent action by politicians, police, educators, employers, civil-society groups, the media, and pretty much everybody else. As for the far more serious matter of crimes committed by Muslims, the report mentions them only within the context of discussions of anti-Muslim hate. In the town of Rotherham alone, for example, in accordance with orthodox Islamic attitudes toward “uncovered” or “immodest” infidel females, over 1400 non-Muslim girls are known to have been sexually abused by so-called Muslim “grooming” gangs in recent years – but the epidemic of “grooming” is cited in the Runnymede report only as one item on a list of practices and phenomena that it identifies as contributing to British “stereotypes” about Muslims. Similarly, here is the Runnymede Trust report’s solitary reference to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie: “In Britain…many Muslims felt unsupported in their reaction to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and faced a backlash from those who they felt prioritized freedom of speech above respect for minorities.” The point here is apparently that Britons who stood up for Rushdie’s right not to be slaughtered for writing a novel were guilty of Islamophobia.

The British government’s program Prevent, the part of its counterterrorism strategy that seeks to inhibit the radicalization of British subjects, also comes in for criticism in Runnymede’s report. Prevent is faulted both for being rooted in the notion (which it finds offensive, true or not) that the chief terrorist threat to the country is posed by “Islamist terrorists” (a term that the report puts in scare quotes) and for “put[ting] the onus on Muslim communities.” The report charges that because the British government, as part of the Prevent program, monitors (for example) imams who preach violence against the West, Prevent represents a violation of free speech. I can find no record of the Runnymede Trust ever criticizing the zealous attempts by British authorities to silence critics of Islam – a practice that has led to the banning from the U.K. of prominent American critics of Islam, even as the government has continued to permit preachers of violent jihad to enter the country

********************************

The Runnymede Trust report’s solitary reference to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie states: “In Britain… many Muslims felt unsupported in their reaction to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and faced a backlash from those who they felt prioritized freedom of speech above respect for minorities.” Apparently, Britons who stood up for Rushdie’s right not to be slaughtered for writing a novel were guilty of Islamophobia.

Much of Runnymede’s report is devoted to the high levels of Muslim poverty and unemployment in the U.K. — but instead of seeking reasons for this problem in Islam itself, it blames this problem primarily on “institutional racism,” while avoiding the ticklish question of why Hindus, whom one would also expect to be victims of “institutional racism” in Britain, are economically more successful than any other group in that nation, including ethnic British Christians.

The Runnymede report points out that domestic violence and child abuse are also committed by Westerners; the difference, needless to say, is that while FGM and honor violence enjoy widespread approval in Muslim societies and communities, where they are viewed as justifiable (if not compulsory) under Islam, domestic violence and child abuse are universally condemned in Western society and are never defended on cultural or religious grounds.

Founded in 1968, the Runnymede Trust describes itself as “the UK’s leading independent race equality think tank.” Its chair is Clive Jones CBE, a former executive at Britain’s ITV; its director is Omar Khan, a Governor of the University of East London and member of a variety of advisory groups involving ethnicity and integration. Runnymede’s reports are taken extremely seriously, and its recommendations heeded, at the highest levels of the British government.

In 1994, Runnymede published a report on anti-Semitism. Its title, A Very Light Sleeper, was borrowed from a statement by the author Conor Cruise O’Brien: “Anti-Semitism is a very light sleeper.” Now, anyone familiar with contemporary Britain knows that the alarming contemporary rise in Jew-hatred in that country – as in all of western Europe – is principally a consequence of the growing population of Muslims. But the Runnymede Trust’s report seemed designed mainly to divert attention away from that fact. Tracing anti-Semitism through Luther, Voltaire, Marx, Henry Ford, and Hitler, the report did a splendid job of implicitly identifying anti-Semitism as a Western phenomenon – a product of what the report presented a distinctively Western tendency to divide the world into “us” and “the Other.”

Of course, no civilization is more virulently anti-Semitic than Islamic civilization. But the Runnymede Trust’s 1994 report presented as gospel the at best exaggerated notion that medieval Islamic societies were tolerant of Jews, who were thus “able to play a full part” in those societies. To the extent that the report acknowledged the reality of today’s Muslim anti-Semitism, it depicted that prejudice (a) as being confined to “extremist” groups, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, that (it was quick to emphasize) are also hostile to many Muslim countries; (b) as being caused by anger over the fact that Jerusalem, “the third most sacred place for Muslims after Mecca and Medina,” is controlled by Israel; or (c) as being caused by irrational fears of the sort that also exist in Christianity and other religions.

But when it came to Jews and Muslims, the thrust of the report is summed up in its assurance that the Koran also “refers to Jews and Christians as People of the Book” – never mind that the Koran also refers to Jews as “apes and swine,” describes them as cursed, calls on Muslims to kill them, and forbids Muslims from befriending them. Reading Runnymede’s report on anti-Semitism, one gathered the impression that it was compiled mostly so that Runnymede could be able to point to it and say that it had, in fact, issued a report on anti-Semitism.

The reality is that the Runnymede Trust does not appear to be terribly interested in anti-Semitism. For many years, it has seemed to be far more exercised about the purported pervasiveness of anti-Muslim prejudice in the U.K. In 1997, it published a report, Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All, which “was launched at the House of Commons by then-Home Secretary Jack Straw.” Of its 60 recommendations, many were ultimately implemented. This year, on the twentieth anniversary of that report, Runnymede issued a new, 106-page report, Islamophobia: Still a Challenge for Us All, edited by Farah Elahi and Omar Khan.

The new report is a remarkable document. Among its premises is that “anti-Muslim hate crime” is a major crisis in the U.K. that demands urgent action by politicians, police, educators, employers, civil-society groups, the media, and pretty much everybody else. As for the far more serious matter of crimes committed by Muslims, the report mentions them only within the context of discussions of anti-Muslim hate. In the town of Rotherham alone, for example, in accordance with orthodox Islamic attitudes toward “uncovered” or “immodest” infidel females, over 1400 non-Muslim girls are known to have been sexually abused by so-called Muslim “grooming” gangs in recent years – but the epidemic of “grooming” is cited in the Runnymede report only as one item on a list of practices and phenomena that it identifies as contributing to British “stereotypes” about Muslims. Similarly, here is the Runnymede Trust report’s solitary reference to the fatwa against Salman Rushdie: “In Britain…many Muslims felt unsupported in their reaction to Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and faced a backlash from those who they felt prioritized freedom of speech above respect for minorities.” The point here is apparently that Britons who stood up for Rushdie’s right not to be slaughtered for writing a novel were guilty of Islamophobia.

In the town of Rotherham, England, in accordance with orthodox Islamic attitudes toward “uncovered” or “immodest” infidel females, over 1400 non-Muslim girls are known to have been sexually abused by so-called Muslim “grooming” gangs in recent years. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)

The report does acknowledge the reality of what it euphemistically calls “the terrorist threat,” but it never seriously addresses this threat and excuses this failure by explaining that “this report is about Islamophobia.” While noting, moreover, claims that some individuals that Islam “should be subject to criticism” because it “is a system of beliefs,” the report maintains that this “focus on ideas (or ‘ideologies’) has obscured what instead should be a focus on people.” The point apparently being that even if you’re criticizing Islam strictly as a set of ideas, that act of criticism is still being directed at people – which, again, makes you an Islamophobe. Several paragraphs of the report are, indeed, devoted to a convoluted “explanation” of why, even though Islam is not a race, Islamophobia is nonetheless a form of racism.

The British government’s program Prevent, the part of its counterterrorism strategy that seeks to inhibit the radicalization of British subjects, also comes in for criticism in Runnymede’s report. Prevent is faulted both for being rooted in the notion (which it finds offensive, true or not) that the chief terrorist threat to the country is posed by “Islamist terrorists” (a term that the report puts in scare quotes) and for “put[ting] the onus on Muslim communities.” The report charges that because the British government, as part of the Prevent program, monitors (for example) imams who preach violence against the West, Prevent represents a violation of free speech. I can find no record of the Runnymede Trust ever criticizing the zealous attempts by British authorities to silence critics of Islam – a practice that has led to the banning from the U.K. of prominent American critics of Islam, even as the government has continued to permit preachers of violent jihad to enter the country.

Much of Runnymede’s report is devoted to the high levels of Muslim poverty and unemployment in the U.K. – but instead of seeking reasons for this problem in Islam itself, it blames this problem primarily on “institutional racism,” while avoiding the ticklish question of why Hindus, whom one would also expect to be victims of “institutional racism” in Britain, are economically more successful than any other group in that nation, including ethnic British Christians.

There is nothing in the Runnymede Trust report about Islamic theology – about jihad, sharia, the caliphate, the systematic subjugation of women, the execution of adulterers and apostates and gays. Audaciously, a chapter on women and Islam reduces the whole question to “Western stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed, passive victims.” Female genital mutilation (FGM) and honor violence, the report asserts, have been “sensationalized” by the British media. In an effort to downplay the importance of these phenomena, the Runnymede report points out that domestic violence and child abuse are also committed by Westerners; the difference, needless to say, is that while FGM and honor violence enjoy widespread approval in Muslim societies and communities, where they are viewed as justifiable (if not compulsory) under Islam, domestic violence and child abuse are universally condemned in Western society and are never defended on cultural or religious grounds.

As for Islamic patriarchy, the report insists that patriarchy exists in the West as well as in the Islamic world. The report’s repeated endeavors to draw this kind of moral equivalency are so patently absurd – and desperate – that they do not even merit a civilized response. Indeed, the report itself – whose authors are manifestly determined throughout to absolve Islam of any blame for anything whatsoever, and to attribute every ill afflicting the British Muslim community to Islamophobia – would not merit any comment at all if the Runnymede Trust were not taken as seriously as it is in the corridors of British power.

Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.

Report: Hundreds of Islamic State Sex Slaves Face Honor Killings if They Escape

November 25, 2017

Report: Hundreds of Islamic State Sex Slaves Face Honor Killings if They Escape, BreitbartEdwin Mora, November 24, 2017

AFP/File DELIL SOULEIMAN

Akram reportedly indicated that Turkmen “families are so deeply ashamed that they often don’t want their abducted girls to come back for fear they were violated. If they do escape and return, they face being honor killed.”

The Iraqi Turkmen community, the third-largest ethnoreligious group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, identifies with either Shiite or Sunni Muslim traditions.

“Many girls won’t return,” Hasan Turan, an Iraqi lawmaker from the Turkmen Front Party, told Fox News. “Many girls were held as slaves. … I can only hope families accept them if they return. They are the victims.”

While the ISIS kidnapping of thousands of women and girls from Iraq’s ethnoreligious minority group known as Yazidis (or Yezidis) has been well-documented, the abduction of females from other ethnic minorities has been underreported by members of their community out of shame, reports Fox News.

According to the news outlet, an estimated 640 Turkmen girls and at least another 59 women and children from the Shabak minority group remain missing after ISIS swept them into sexual brutality.

******************************

The estimated 640 young girls from Iraq’s Turkmen minority community who remain under the shackles of sexual slavery at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) face honor killings if they escape and return to their families, a former Iraqi lawmaker representing the ethnic group told Fox News.

“We are very conservative. If our wife or sister was raped, we cannot talk about it,” Fawzi Akram, the former Iraqi member of parliament (MP) who now serves as a prominent aid and community leader, told Fox News.

He revealed that “640 of our girls—some younger than 12—are missing by ISIS.”

Last year, the Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, and the nonprofit In Defense of Christians unveiled a detailed store-like price list maintained by ISIS for selling sexual slaves as young as 1-year-old “in the name of Allah.”

Honor killings across the globe often involve Muslim males murdering or mutilating a female family member accused of bringing shame and dishonor to their families and Islam.

Akram reportedly indicated that Turkmen “families are so deeply ashamed that they often don’t want their abducted girls to come back for fear they were violated. If they do escape and return, they face being honor killed.”

The Iraqi Turkmen community, the third-largest ethnoreligious group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, identifies with either Shiite or Sunni Muslim traditions.

“Many girls won’t return,” Hasan Turan, an Iraqi lawmaker from the Turkmen Front Party, told Fox News. “Many girls were held as slaves. … I can only hope families accept them if they return. They are the victims.”

While the ISIS kidnapping of thousands of women and girls from Iraq’s ethnoreligious minority group known as Yazidis (or Yezidis) has been well-documented, the abduction of females from other ethnic minorities has been underreported by members of their community out of shame, reports Fox News.

According to the news outlet, an estimated 640 Turkmen girls and at least another 59 women and children from the Shabak minority group remain missing after ISIS swept them into sexual brutality.

About 2,900 Yazidi women and girls remain missing, Vian Dakhil, a female representative for Yazidis in the Iraqi Parliament, told Fox News, echoing testimony from Yazidi survivor and human rights activist Nadia Murad before a congressional panel in June 2016.

“The scale of the sexual violence extends far broader than many Iraqis previously documented,” notes Fox News. “The minority Shabak—who reside mostly in villages east of Mosul, their faith and rituals centered on Christian, Yazidi and Islamic adherences—are also suffering in silence.”

Hunien Kaddo, an Iraqi MP who represents the estimated 35,000-strong Shabak community, revealed that ISIS raped at least 28 Shabak women and subsequently poured gasoline on them in cages before setting them ablaze in Mosul.

As ISIS lost Mosul to the U.S.-led coalition and its allies late last year, the jihadist group abducted an additional “59 Shabak women and children” from the surrounding villages, revealed Kaddo.

“I have been visiting displaced and devastated families in recent weeks,” he told Fox News. “They’re daughters are missing. Sadly, there is a lot of shame.”

He pointed out that many Christian women and girls remain in captivity as ISIS sex slaves.

The Yazidis requested help in recovering their missing women and children, Fox News learned from northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Meanwhile, the other minority groups stayed silent.

The United Nations and the United States have determined that ISIS committed genocide against minority groups in Iraq and Syria, including Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen, and Shabak.

American Islamists’ Silence on Tariq Ramadan Rape Allegations Speaks Volumes

November 7, 2017

American Islamists’ Silence on Tariq Ramadan Rape Allegations Speaks Volumes, Investigative Project on Terrorism, November 7, 2017

(Please see also, Tariq Ramadan’s Fans Insist He’s Not A Rapist: It’s The Women’s Fault. And the Jews’ and Girl Forced to Walk Naked to ‘Restore Honor’ [Pakistan]

Armed men forced a girl to parade naked through her village in Pakistan to “restore the honor” of their family.

The girl was targeted after her brother had an affair with the wife of one of the men. She was taken in broad daylight by a group of men, who cut off her clothes with scissors and forced walk through the streets of in the village of Chaudhuan, according to local residents.

— DM

It’s never fun when one of your favorite celebrities gets accused of wrongdoing. The home team quarterback faces a DUI, or a politician gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar. You can choose to face reality that the hero may not warrant your devotion, or try to pretend you never saw it.

When it comes to Tariq Ramadan, heir to modern Islamist thought and one of the world’s most recognizable Muslim scholars, American Islamists seem intent on looking the other way.

At least four women have accused the Oxford University professor of sexual assault or harassment – making him one of the latest high-profile men to be accused of past misconduct after Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s fall last month. Oxford announced Tuesday that Ramadan is taking a leave of absence “by mutual agreement.”

Compared to Weinstein and others, there are few voices taking up the cause for Ramadan’s accusers. Some of it may be cultural: Ramadan often has urged Muslims to treat controversial religious issues such as stoning adulterers and female genital mutilation as an “internal discussion.” But there’s also the fact that Ramadan has been quite helpful to American Islamists over the years.

He addressed the two largest gatherings of Muslim Americans last year, speaking to conventions organized by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and a joint Muslim American Society-Islamic Circle of North America (MAS-ICNA) gathering. That September, he spoke at California’s Zaytuna College with its founder Hatem Bazian.

The subject? “Resistance: Combatting Oppression, Inspiring Action.”

Rape is a form of oppression.

Ramadan was the keynote speaker for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Chicago chapter fundraising banquet. He served the same role for CAIR National’s 2010 fundraising banquet.

Last month, he spoke at a conference organized by Georgetown University’s Saudi-endowed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

Center Director Jonathan Brown, Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Chair of Islamic Civilization in the School of Foreign Service, also spoke at the conference. Brown generated attention earlier this year with a lecture that argued it isn’t “morally evil to own somebody” and that sexual consent is a bit of a myth because no individual is genuinely autonomous.

In the wake of the Ramadan allegations, Brown linked without comment to a Huffington Post op-ed on his Facebook page emphasizing that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Beyond that, leaders from Georgetown, CAIR, ISNA, ICNA or MAS have had little to say about the possibility Ramadan may be a sexual predator. Some were less reticent when it came to judging people in similar cases.

For example, Zainab Chaudry, CAIR’s Maryland outreach director, praised Netflix’s decision to end its popular series “House of Cards” after star Kevin Spacey was accused of assaulting a teenage boy 30 years ago.

“Hopefully the first step in justice for the survivor(s),” she wrote Monday. She has not expressed concern for the women who say Ramadan assaulted them.

As the Weinstein scandal unfolded, CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab took to Facebook to call out the powerful producer as “Another bloated old predator creep – to add to the list alongside Roger Ailles [sic] and Bill O’Reilly – fawned over by society and rewarded with wealth and fame, even as he luxuriated in sociopathic predatory behavior for decades with no accountability.

“Well, it is time for liberals and those on the left to quit the double standard. The same outrage rightly shown to the fallen icons of the right better be shown to this trash human.”

He urged people to “Pay close attention to what happens to Weinstein if anything, and how the mainstream media and Hollywood deal with this.”

Five days later, Rehab noted that three women accused Weinstein of rape – one accuser fewer than Tariq Ramadan has today – and blasted the “hundreds of enablers, including the biggest stars…” A news outlet called 26 actors and directors to ask about Weinstein. “None responded,” Rehab wrote.

Rehab has made no direct comment about Ramadan. On Oct. 28, however, he reposted Ramadan’s statement announcing his plans to sue one accuser for slander. In an exchange with a commenter, Rehab predicted “the truth will eventually prevail in such a way that will be indisputable.” While he generally believes a woman accuser, “the specifics of any case take precedence for me over the generally speaking.”

Weinstein threatened to sue the New York Times after it published a story detailing the number of women he paid to stay quiet about abuse allegations.

At least in the initial claim against Ramadan, those who sided with him were quick to argue that his accuser disagrees with them politically, so she must be making it up. Henda Ayari is described as a former Salafi Muslim who left the faith and became a secular activist.

Ahmed Bedier, a former CAIR chapter director who still helps the organization raise money, called Ayari a mentally ill Islamophobe and “a hero to the anti-Muslim movement and Israeli groups in Europe.”

In a New York Times profile, Ayari does acknowledge losing custody of her children for two years following a nervous breakdown. But Bedier failed to provide the context: it was brought on by the stress of fleeing from an abusive Salafi home that was described by a social services worker as a prison. She wore the jilbab and niqab – full body coverings – with the story describing her husband’s view that it was “the female garb that most pleased Allah.” She rarely was allowed out of the home.

In a related exchange that same day, Bedier said he would normally give the accuser the benefit of the doubt. But in this case, blaming her is okay because “the accuser is an anti-Muslim activist accusing the leading Muslim figure in Europe.”

He does appear to have weighed in on subsequent accusers.

As we showed Monday, Ramadan’s European fans reacted similarly, attacking the accuser and buying into conspiracy theories.

After trying to discredit the alleged victim, Ramadan may be targeting one of the messengers. His lawyers say they may sue French journalist Caroline Fourest for “witness tampering,” she wrote Friday, adding that she met alleged victims as far back as 2009.

A self-described Muslim feminist has stayed mum about the prospect a leading Muslim voice, and the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, could be a rapist. Linda Sarsour is a leader of the Women’s March movement.

As the number of Weinstein accusers increased, the March’s Twitter feed expressed appreciation and admiration for their courage. “You are not alone,” it said.

Tuesday morning, after the New Yorker published Ronan Farrow’s follow-up detailing Weinstein’s use of private investigators, including one company comprised of ex-Israeli security officials, to try to thwart investigations into his sexual predations, Sarsour wrote that the story “literally gave me chills.”

Neither the March nor Sarsour has expressed similar solidarity with Ramadan’s accusers. He defended Sarsour in January, when she faced criticism from liberals who were uncomfortable with her leadership for the Women’s March. “There is nothing bigots fear more than strong Muslim women,” he wrote, “and that this community will not stop standing up for itself and all the marginalized in the face of hatred and bigotry.”

What about sexual assault?

Tariq Ramadan remains innocent until proven guilty. But public judgment changed dramatically with other men as more accusers emerged and a pattern of behavior became clear. A former French official has acknowledged that Ramadan long has had a reputation for womanizing, and that it sometimes included violence. At least four women say that they can attest to that.

At some point, attacking the victims or imagining it will all go away no longer works.

Tariq Ramadan’s Fans Insist He’s Not A Rapist: It’s The Women’s Fault. And the Jews’

November 6, 2017

Tariq Ramadan’s Fans Insist He’s Not A Rapist: It’s The Women’s Fault. And the Jews’, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, November 6, 2017

Tariq Ramadan’s many fans – more than 600,000 people follow him on Twitter and he has more than 2 million Facebook followers – have had plenty to say. He is innocent, they are certain. In their comments on both social media sites, they assure him that Allah will protect him. The women are liars, or part of a conspiracy: against Muslims, against the Muslim leader himself, against Islam – all the insidious, but entirely predictable, work of the world’s Jews.

*****************************************

From the moment news broke of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual aggressions, men and women alike rushed to express their disgust and disappointment. As the number of accusers mounted, so, too, did the number of those who condemned him. From actors to producers, film festivals to the Oscars and dozens of politicians, the once-celebrated movie mogul has been disparaged and denounced.

Compare that to the response to women who accuse Islamic scholar and guru Tariq Ramadan of similar, even more violent behavior – four at last count, with more rumored to be preparing to step up. In France, where Ramadan faces charges of sexual assault; in Switzerland, his birthplace; and in England, where he lives and teaches at the University of Oxford, his fellow Muslim leaders, as well as Muslim and civil rights groups, have yet to say a word against him. Even the Ligue France des Femmes Musulman – the French League of Muslim Women – has failed to speak out, although three of Ramadan’s alleged victims, including French writer and activist Henda Ayari, are French Muslim women. (The fourth is Belgian.)

Even the French authorities, it turns out, have kept quiet. “That he had many mistresses, that he consulted sites, that girls were brought to the hotel at the end of his lectures, that he invited them to undress, that some resisted and that he could become violent and aggressive, yes, but I never heard of rapes,” Bernard Godard, who worked in the French Ministry of the Interior from 1997 to 2014, told the French magazine L’Obs. It is hard to understand how Mr. Godard knew that girls “resisted” and that Ramadan became violent, and did not somehow understand that there might be rape involved, or that violence against young girls might be worth reporting. And so he said nothing.

New allegations continue to emerge, including from four Swiss women who say he came on to them when they were teenagers.

On the other hand, Tariq Ramadan’s many fans – more than 600,000 people follow him on Twitter and he has more than 2 million Facebook followers – have had plenty to say. He is innocent, they are certain. In their comments on both social media sites, they assure him that Allah will protect him. The women are liars, or part of a conspiracy: against Muslims, against the Muslim leader himself, against Islam – all the insidious, but entirely predictable, work of the world’s Jews.

Of course that’s somewhat to be expected. Ramadan is vehemently anti-Israel, so it comes as no surprise that his fans and followers would be, too. Besides, the charges against him describe such heinous behavior – dragging a woman by her hair through a hotel room, repeated beatings and sexual assaults, sexual abuse of a disabled woman and more – that only the Zionists, the Jews, could have come up with them.

Which is why one fan posted on Ramadan’s Facebook page (translated from Arabic) “One of the ways of the Zionists is to use women as a sexual commodity to pressure their enemies and threaten to expose them to become their servants.” Another added, “The Muslim asses are waking up and can see clearly why these accusations are launched against Muslims and especially one who is a proponent of the Palestinian cause.” And yet another wrote from Canada: “[the episode stands in the center] of the whole Emirati war on Qatar, and the war of the Zionist and secular lobby in France.”

Even after the revelations of another rape came to light, Ramadan’s minions remained unmoved. While one admitted that “I don’t believe and I won’t believe what they invent about you even if it happens in front of my eyes, I will lie and believe you,” another posted: “The Zionist lobby realized that the first complaint was not enough to smear Mr. Ramadan’s reputation and integrity, so they fomented another story with a more violent accusation in order to shock the public…. We know Mr. Ramadan and we know as well the Zionist lobby and its Zionist dogs (media and politics) who struggle since long ago to smear Tariq Ramadan’s reputation and academic work… in vain. Mr. Ramadan, we will NEVER let you down, no matter how loud the Zionist dogs’ barking is.”

Others have pointed to the “immodesty” of his accusers: what were they doing going to his hotel room? (He invited them when they requested spiritual guidance.) And why did they not wear hijabs? After all, as Ramadan has taught, women should always remain covered, as protection against the unbridled lust and weakness of men. On Twitter, one follower posted: “France is the capital of vice and prostitution where hookers are cheaper than a cup of coffee. Its [sic] probably lies to sell her book.” And in a diatribe defending Ramadan on Facebook, Mohamad H. Elmasry, an Egyptian-American activist and political analyst, criticized Ayari’s opposition to the hijab, of which she has written, “It is not for women to hide because of sexual and perverted frustration that is unable to control themselves [sic] by the beauty of a woman!”

And yet, covered women are also raped, both in the Middle East and in the West, where Shaista Gohir, the chair of a UK-based helpline for Muslim women, told the Independent, some “have been fully dressed. Some have been wearing the headscarf, [full robe], and even the face veil. The offenders have included family friends, family members, and also respected religious leaders in the community.” As Claudia Landsberger, a former colleague of the late Islam critic and filmmaker Theo van Gogh, wrote in an e-mail, such incidents demonstrate “how the whole issue of modesty, or chastity, in order not to make men go wild, does not make any difference in the heads of these men. So first they imprison these women in their hijabs, burqas, or whatever, making them even believe it is for their own benefit – and double-betray them.” Van Gogh, the producer of “Submission,” a film that criticized the treatment of women in Islam, was murdered by a Dutch Muslim extremist in 2004.

For his part, Ramadan has filed a countersuit for slander against Ayari, who claims that he attacked her in a hotel room in 2012. “He choked me so hard that I thought I was going to die,” Ayari told a French newspaper Oct. 30. Ramadan had tried to convince her to be his sex slave, she said. When she refused, he threatened to harm her children. It was this threat, she claims, that kept her from speaking out earlier. Only in the aftermath of the Weinstein scandal, as women around the world joined the social media “#MeToo” campaign, did she find the courage to come forward.

Her example, in turn, gave courage to his three other accusers. It is not clear whether Ramadan plans to sue them as well. For now, he has said on Facebook, his attorneys have advised him to keep silent on the case.

But what all this shows is that in the court of Muslim public opinion – even among so-called civil rights groups that act in the name of Islam – Tariq Ramadan is not just innocent until proven guilty. He is innocent, and the others guilty: the Jews, the Zionists, the secularists, the unveiled women.

This is not a new refrain: we’ve heard similar chorales legitimize terrorist attacks like the Charlie Hebdo shootings, or the attempted murders of others who have dared to lampoon Mohammed. They echoed, too, in the response of many Dutch Muslims to the slaughter of Theo van Gogh. Ramadan could, of course, intervene. He could say that no, this has nothing at all to do with Jews. No, rape is not the fault of women. Instead, he is silent. This, his silence, is his assault. And of this, he alone is guilty.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Tunisian Religious Reforms Challenge Egypt’s Al Azhar

September 19, 2017

Tunisian Religious Reforms Challenge Egypt’s Al Azhar, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Hany Ghoraba, September 19, 2017

(Please see also, Look Who’s Fighting Extremism. — DM)

Essebsi is implementing reforms he deems necessary for his country’s social progress. These reforms already are having a ripple effect in the region and might lead to further social progress. Essebsi has done what al-Sisi called for about for more than two years ago, but never took any tangible steps to implement. These reforms may be not exactly what al-Sisi wanted when he called for a complete change of Islamic rhetoric that shuns all forms of extremism and violence. Nevertheless, Essebsi’s reforms are a bold step forward for total social and religious reforms that the Middle East desperately needs.

*********************************

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi marched straight into a battle with Egypt’s highest Sunni authority, Al-Azhar’s mosque and university, when he proposed social and religious reforms giving women more freedom in marriage and guaranteeing them equal inheritance rights.

A substantial part of that agenda became law last Thursday when Tunisia’s parliament ended the ban on Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men. It is a direct result of controversial reforms Essebsi proposed, ending a ban imposed in 1973.This was done while proposing new law to secure gender equality in inheritance rights.

Egypt’s Al Azhar has ferociously condemned these reforms as un-Islamic, contradicting what it called the “Fundamentals of the Faith.” Marriage to non-Muslims may harm Muslim women due to differences in faith and traditions and could lead to women being prohibited from practicing their faith freely, said Al Azhar Deputy Imam Abbas Shoman.

Essebsi’s proposals mark the first time the leader of a Muslim-majority nation personally announced critical social reforms, which also include giving women equal inheritance to men despite traditional Shari’a-based laws. These reforms aim for gender equality in Tunisia.

Al-Azhar also opposes the inheritance changes, Shoman said, saying they contradict the Quran’s guidance. “Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females,” it says.

Though not wielding the same influence as the Vatican Pope’s over Catholics, the moral authority wielded over Muslims by Al Azhar’s grand imam is recognized in all four corners of the globe. Al Azhar once represented a pillar of modernity and moderation in the Islamic world, but that changed when ultra-conservative Wahhabism and Muslim Brotherhood Jihadist doctrine ascended during the 1950s. More radical Salafi doctrines became part of the core curriculum.

Opposing Modernity

Essebsi’s call for gender equality is a step toward a secular path, which is a radical departure from most predominantly-Muslim countries. It’s not surprising, therefore, that it generated a storm of protest and condemnation from the Al Azhar sheikhdom (administration). To them, Tunisia’s reforms counter straight-forward Quranic versesconcerning the distribution of the inheritance between women and men and marriage to non-Muslims.

Those verses dictate that a man receives twice as much inheritance as a woman. That’s because men traditionally pay for the expenses of the house that includes the family’s women until they get married and move into their own homes. Thus, a man should acquire twice as much as his sister or women counterpart to carry on with his duties. That mayhave made sense 1,400 years ago, but in the 21stcentury that is hardly the case anymore.

Women have attained huge milestones in the past two centuries and even in the Muslim majority nations. For example, Egypt’s feminist movement started in the early 20th century, and by the 1950s, Egyptian women had voting rights even before women in Switzerland. Egypt has a major representation of women in all political, economic and social fields. Countries such as Pakistan, Indonesia, and Turkey had a female presidents or prime ministers.Today, more than a third of Egyptian households are financed by women, the Egyptian National Centre for Social and Criminological Research (NCSCR) reports.

The issue of Muslim women marrying non-Muslims has been a source of debate and conflict for centuries. Advocates of Tunisia’s reforms argue that the Quranic verses governing marriage outside the faith apply to men and women. The only prohibition is marrying an atheist or a follower of polytheistic religions.

Nevertheless, for more than 1,400 years it became the norm that Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslim men. Scholars argued Muslim women who married outside the faith might not be free to practicing their religion. Reform advocates believe that 21st century women freely choose their own life partners and are aware of any consequences.

Renouncing Al Azhar’s criticism, Essebsi condemned “foreign interference” in internal Tunisian affairs. Tunisian religious bodies, including the Diwan of Fatwa, support his reforms.

Counter-Reform Syndicate

Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Al Tayeb was reputed to be a moderate Sufist who many in Egypt hoped would counter the growing influence of the university’s radical alumni. Alas, he has faced criticism from liberal Egyptian intellectuals and secularists for blocking any tangible Islamic reforms. During his reign, Al Azhar has waged witch hunts against Egyptian Islamic reformers such as Islam Al-Beheiry. Al-Beheiry spent a year in prison for blasphemy because he dared to condemn some major Islamic traditionalist scholars’ works, calling them the source of modern terrorist ideologies. He was later released after being granted a presidential pardon.

More than two years ago, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made a historic call for a religious revolution targeting interpretations and misconceptions of religious scripture that drives jihadist ideologies. Al-Azhar’s sheikhdom met the call with defiance, despite displaying fake enthusiasm for the government and the media. As a result, no new laws have been introduced and no curricula have changed with Al Azhar’s influence on Egyptian state affairs is growing stronger.

Yet al-Sisi is not challenging the religious institution enough out of fear that the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian Salafists might use the pressure to restore their influence in Al-Azhar. However, a confrontation with Al Azhar seems inevitable since it has already been infiltrated by the very Salafists and radicals whose influence al-Sisi wishes to eradicate.

Ironically, Tunisia’s Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Ennahda Party has been mostly vague about the social reforms. Despite the protest of some of its main leaders, no official statement has been issued Ennahda vice President Abdel Fattah Mourou said that marriage is a matter of personal freedom under Tunisia’s constitution.

Ennahda, which rose to power after the 2011 Arab Spring, was voted out just three years later. Now it is trying to appear as moderate as possible to regain its strength and weather the storm of anti-Islamist sentiment prevailing in many Middle Eastern nations.

Essebsi is implementing reforms he deems necessary for his country’s social progress. These reforms already are having a ripple effect in the region and might lead to further social progress. Essebsi has done what al-Sisi called for about for more than two years ago, but never took any tangible steps to implement. These reforms may be not exactly what al-Sisi wanted when he called for a complete change of Islamic rhetoric that shuns all forms of extremism and violence. Nevertheless, Essebsi’s reforms are a bold step forward for total social and religious reforms that the Middle East desperately needs.

Hany Ghoraba is an Egyptian writer, political and counter-terrorism analyst at Al Ahram Weekly, author of Egypt’s Arab Spring: The Long and Winding Road to Democracy and a regular contributor to the BBC.