Report on Imams condoning rape and violence

Last week, the media was abuzz with reports on a study, funded by the previous government, into the conduct of Australian imams:

SOME Muslim religious leaders in Victoria are condoning rape within marriage, domestic violence, polygamy, welfare fraud and exploitation of women, according to an explosive report on the training of imams.

The Daily Telegraph covered the story under the headline “Rape within marriage OK: Muslim clerics” which more or less exemplifies the tone of much of the commentary on the report.

Needless to say, the Catch the Fire crowd can barely contain their excitement:

Yet a Howard government commissioned report, conducted by the Islamic Women’s Welfare Council of Victoria and released exclusively by Barney Zwartz in The Age newspaper today, reveals that what Daniel Scott said was in fact the truth and that it is certainly happening here in Victoria.

Not having seen the report yet, it’s impossible to comment on the findings or the methodology that was used to derive them.  The sorts of issues identified almost certainly do occur although one must be cautious in drawing any conclusions as to how widespread or systemic such occurrences are.

The response to these allegations came today from “Australia’s most senior Muslim”:

AUSTRALIA’S most senior Muslim has said he will end segregation of men and women in mosques, in a bold response to Islamic women’s anger at entrenched discrimination.

The Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Fehmi Naji el-Imam, said he would put his proposal to the next meeting of the Australian National Imams’ Council and consider how women could share the room with men during prayers.

The response raises a number of questions.

Firstly, to what extent is forcing men and women to pray together in the same room going to solve the issues raised in the report?

Secondly, do women really want to pray with men or is it simply the case that what Muslim women want is to have their own area but for that area to be of a similar standard and with similar facilities as the areas that are provided for males?

Thirdly, as we have reported previously on this site, Muslim prayer rooms are being turned into “multifaith spiritual centers” by universities; largely in the mistaken belief that Muslims don’t really need or want a separate prayer area.  For other universities, comments such as those by Sheikh Fehmi might provide justification for removing the female facilities all together and collapsing both male and female prayer areas into a single room.  Would this be a step forward for Muslim women?


#1 Anon on 11.23.08 at 12:42 pm

#2 Kashmiri Nomad on 11.24.08 at 1:52 am

Austrolabe on reports that Imams in Australia are condoning rape and violence….Islam & The West

#3 Irfan on 11.24.08 at 10:21 pm

“A furore over Muslim men taking multiple partners can only be taken seriously when it is a universal one that rains over every man who has more than one woman in his life. Until the Commonwealth passes legislation forbidding any multiplicity of relations between men and women, no Muslim man is doing anything wrong under Australian Law. For us Muslims to then create a culture of guilt and push it towards a man who takes another domestic partner besides his first wife, which Allah (swt) allows and Australian Law doesn’t even deal with, is quite unfortunate.”

The IWWC report focussed on men who engage in polygamous relationships secretly and at the expense of the taxpayer. As far as I am aware, sharia requires men themselves to support their wives. Allah allows you to have more than one wife, but not at my expense.

Further, the report discussed instances where imams condoned sexual violence inside marriage. This is an extremely serious matter. Rape within marriage is proscribed as a criminal offence across all states and territories of Australia.

As for Danny Nalliah’s views on domestic violence …

#4 Uludag on 11.25.08 at 4:44 am

If government and public opinion want to oversee and regulate Islamic legal practice in the Muslim community, let them sponsor and legitimise the establishment of Shari’ah Courts for matters relating to family, marital and financial law.

Do we really what government involved?

#5 sarah on 11.25.08 at 12:03 pm

“Not having seen the report yet, it’s impossible to comment on the findings or the methodology that was used to derive them”

Why is it that whenever there is a report that reveals something uncomfortable about muslims communities the natural impulse is to attack its methodology or credibility? You can throw a stone to find at least one muslim woman whose had some issue with islamic marriage/divorce at least. And there is huge anecdotal evidence to show these problems DO EXIST and NEED TO BE ADDRESSED.

You may have a point with the prayer rooms, but maybe the sisters need to scare the boys with invading their glorious space to get comparable facilities. eww girl germs! Get them facilities quick smart! (You can even walk through the front door!)

#6 Uludag on 11.25.08 at 8:42 pm

Yeah maybe but until we read the report who knows what it says? It’s certainly got the enemies of Islam excited.

#7 Amir on 11.26.08 at 12:00 am

The most common issue, as far as I can tell, are imams who (for political or other reasons) refuse to grant women a khulu’ thus leaving them in a kind of ‘limbo’.

#8 Irfan on 11.26.08 at 7:09 pm

One more thing (unrelated to this topic). Thanks for taking “Planet Irf” off your list of “Muslim blogs”. I may be a Muslim but Planet Irf certainly does contain material that many more observant Muslims would find uncomfortable!

#9 Amir on 11.26.08 at 8:16 pm

Irfan, I cleaned out a few of the dormant or dead blogs from the list ages ago and must have (accidentally) deleted yours from the list. It’s back now.

#10 Irfan on 11.27.08 at 4:21 pm

Man, take it off again. It really isn’t a terribly Muslim blog at all. Still, it depends on whether you differentiate between “Muslim” and “Islamic”.

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