Monday, April 30, 2007

Multiculturalism and domestic abuse

For those who care, I recently sent an e-mail response to Johann Hari, the Independents columnist, criticising him on a recent article:

I had recently read your article on the horrific treatment that some women who happen to be Muslim have suffered in Germany and elsewhere. The ludicrous judgement of the judge, dismissing blatant domestic abuse as"cultural" was ignorant, insulting and condescending to say the least. However, you deserve no congratulations for highlighting this issue, if that is indeed what you wished.
Firstly, you create an artificial category of "multiculturalists" who have no problem in letting off vicious wife-beaters because they happen to be Muslim. Your criticism is supposedly against these individuals, however what you are really attacking is religion, and Islam to be specific. You also criticise these religions for their treatment of homosexuals, which is fair enough. But it is an insult to the intelligence of your readers and to yourself personally, in front of those truly learned, to maintain arrogant pretensions that you know better than 1500 or 2000 year old philosophies.

It goes without saying that domestic abuse is not condoned under neither Islam nor Catholicism, regardless of deliberate attempts to misread Biblical or Quranic texts. As a writer with considerable talent who's articles I read often, I feel you have a responsibility not to peddle to anti-Muslim sentiment, and perhaps aim to build bridges rather than walls. Isn't domestic abuse a problem women suffer from in "modern" societies too? Does the justice system not fail them too sometimes for even more absurd pretences? In the eyes of both the "multiculturalists" you so strongly condemn, and yourself, the real offense about the woman being abused is that she is a Muslim, rather than the abuse itself. Rather than highlight this issue, you too have failed these women as that ignorant judge in Germany did.


Gregor said...

Hi Wassim,

I totally agree with you, that domestic abuse is a problem independent from any religion. A man, who beats his wife or his children, has to be charged on a court. I think we haven't to discuss this unacceptable judgement. But, what I missed after reading the article of Johann Hari, was that he didn't mention the great public discussion concerning this judgement. And sure, there were some extreme-right wing idiots, who were arguing that this emerges out of Islam and that they have to leave the country. (The same Idiots argues that Muslim-men knows how to treat a women.) This discussion was focused on the role of the constitution and women rights and not on Islam. It wasn't a Contra-Islam discussion, it was more Pro-Aufklärung (means: enlightenment).


Wassim said...

Hi Gregor,

Thanks for the comments but I disagree with your explanation of the article as a pro-Englightenment article. Making that assumption again highlights the point he was making, which is that his values in the argument he made are superior to the abstract representation of the Islamic religion he understands. He is mistaken in both his assumptions and again in the direction of his article, the message of which becomes confused and his argument brittle to say the least.

Gregor said...

The point, which I want to stress, is that there is a lack in this article. Johann Hari didn't mention the widespread discussion that followed this judgement. I never wanted to confirm him, I only wanted to add some information from middle-europe:

In the public discussion a lot of contributers make explained abuse with religion. Especially the extreme right (but also feminists) used this special case to argue that Islam is an evil religion and that Muslims are islamizing Europe.

There emerged also a wide discussion about integration. In this focus abuse became a problem of less integrated classes.

A few used this case to argue, that Turkey must not entry the EU.

Another focus was on the role of religion (and not only Islam) in Europe. (Is religion private or public?)

NGO's argued hat human (means: men and woman) rights must be the only criterias.

Some leftist asked themself, whether Europe need a new enlightenment, which can wash away every sign of every religion.

One can say that the discussion in Germany circled about following terms: the universalistic approach of enlightenment, the borders of the constitution and judges, woman-rights, german or european identity and integration, the islamic threat, democracy and religion, the absolute rule of law.

All this reflects a lot of the problems, with which Europe has to deal at the moment. The discussion never focused on the abuse of Nishal. Nishal was only the surface for european problems (or for created problems).


Wassim said...

:) I understand what you were saying now. Yes that's precisely why I attacked the article! Thanks Gregor!