Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic scholar whom Oxford University treats as a feather in its cap, recently shocked the world by meticulously trying to avoid any criticism of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Instead, he asserted that it is a part of Islamic tradition and an internal matter for Muslims in the West.
Although Ramadan -- the grandson of the Egyptian cleric Hassan al Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood -- carefully chose to mention in a recent statement that although he himself does not support FGM, it is mentioned in the Hadith (the acts and sayings of the prophet Mohamed); that it is still recommended by many of the esteemed scholars of Islam and that it cannot be termed un-Islamic.
He also suggested that those who support such rituals as FGM should not be criticized or fired from their jobs. The remark was apparently a reference to Shaker Elsayed, the imam of Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, who was fired for endorsing FGM. He had also stated that Islam encourages FGM to prevent women from being "hypersexual."
Shaker Elsayed, the imam of Dar Al-Hijrah Mosque in Falls Church, Virginia, was fired for endorsing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), stating that Islam encourages FGM to prevent women from being "hypersexual." (Image source: MEMRI video screenshot)
Elsayed's statement on the issue surfaced in the backdrop of the arrests in Michigan of a few doctors for surgically mutilating the genitals of baby girls in the name of an Islamic rite.
Elsayed went on to say that FGM should be performed in consultation with a specialist, who would decide whether the baby girl would become a hypersexual adult.
The cruel FGM procedure to which Elsayed refers varies from chopping off the clitoris to surgically removing or shortening parts of the victims' vagina, according to the local tradition.
It is sad to see someone such as Ramadan, who is fawned on by the liberal West for supposedly being a "moderate cleric" and a "bridge builder," openly defending a savage crime by naming it the cultural practice of a religion or place. His remarks on FGM signal a go-ahead for those who believe that mutilating their daughters is some kind of divine duty.
This is not the first time an apologist has been caught promoting barbaric traditions on Western soil. The demanding by Islamists for outrageous exemptions from the law in different European countries is nothing new; in many instances, people even choose to ignore that the practices they want to see continued in Europe are actually severe criminal offenses.
Another example of an outdated abuse of the rights of the child in the West are child marriages in the West -- an abuse that increased with the recent influx to Europe of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Hundreds, if not thousands, of migrants showed up at different asylum facilities in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Sweden, with girls as young as 11, and demanded that the authorities register those children as their wives.
An imam in Aarhus, Denmark, even demanded that the local authorities accept child marriages by claiming that they were part of their culture.
Ironically, the Danish authorities facilitated such calls and promised to accept child marriages in "compelling cases" -- such as if a couple with a child bride already had children. In January, however, the Danish parliament passed a bill banning child marriage to protect children from being taken as child-brides among refugees -- but the "compelling case" loophole remains.
The situation is alarming. In Germany, a crackdown against child marriages is being debated after 1,500 minors from different immigrant groups, mainly from Middle East and Afghanistan, were brought to be registered as brides.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas stated, "No one who comes to us has the right to put their cultural roots or their religious beliefs above our laws."
Polygamy remains another challenge for the Western authorities. It is illegal in Europe, but many immigrants during the recent surge arrived bringing with multiple wives and children with them. These only added to the pressure that already existed by local Muslims hardliners who were already campaigning for polygamy.
In Britain, for instance, Amra Bone, Britain's first women Islamic judge, said in an interview to The Times, "But we cannot -- and the government cannot -- ask Muslims not to have more than one wife. People have a right to decide for themselves."
Most of these extremist clerics also do not consider marital rape a crime; they seem to believe that a wife is the property of her husband and must submit to his will, no matter what.
Just recently two Australian Muslim women, belonging to the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, surfaced in a video uploaded on the organization's official Facebook page, demonstrating how a husband should beat his wife if she does not listen to him.
The women who appeared in that video kept laughing and giggling while one beat another with a handkerchief and a tiny tree branch while explaining how wife-beating is permissible in Islam in a rather "gentle" way.
These women have apparently chosen to ignore that beating someone, even with a handkerchief, is a way of insulting that person, as well as asserting not only your impunity, but your superiority over that individual. Worse, these women also seemed oblivious that most of the men do not pick up handkerchiefs when they decide to beat women.
"Domestic violence is abuse -- plain and simple. It is not, 'a beautiful blessing' as the video describes it," replied Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash.
A court in Wiesbaden, Germany recently sentenced a man of Turkish origin to 14 years in prison for hacking his wife with a machete and then dousing her with gasoline, in an attempt to burn her alive. The woman survived, miraculously, despite extreme burns and deformities; yet a large number of "disobedient" women who undergo such torture in the name of sharia do not survive the ordeal.
No one should be above law in a civilized society, or given privileges over other people. If people such as Tariq Ramadan are really keen to make Islam a European religion, they can stop these brutal practices: they are incompatible with European law.
These extremist "traditions" need to be exposed and rejected. They are actually nothing more than human rights abuses taking refuge under the banner of religion.
Khadija Khan is a Pakistani journalist and commentator, currently based in Germany.