Con­demn th­ese re­marks

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

We hope that ev­ery mem­ber of free so­ci­ety pays at­ten­tion to the re­cent row in Aus­tralia over Sheik Taj Din al-Hi­lali. He pro­voked a jus­ti­fi­able firestorm of crit­i­cism from Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter John Howard on down when he sug­gested that un­veiled women are to blame for rape and sex­ual as­sault.

They at­tract sex­ual preda­tors — like “un­cov­ered meat” at­tracts an­i­mals, the cleric said — and if “the cats come and eat it . . . whose fault is it, the cats or the un­cov­ered meat? The un­cov­ered meat is the prob­lem.” All free peo­ples should blast this man with one voice.

This cleric doesn’t un­der­stand that free so­ci­eties pro­tect their cit­i­zens’ right not to be raped or as­saulted for show­ing their faces, legs or arms. No won­der Aus­tralians are call­ing for his de­por­ta­tion.

We es­pe­cially hope fem­i­nists and mod­er­ate Mus­lims in the United States are pay­ing at­ten­tion. This amounts to a di- rect as­sault upon both groups. It tar­gets fem­i­nists be­cause it’s premised upon the ret­ro­grade no­tion that “she had it com­ing” is an ac­cept­able re­sponse to rape. We all need to speak with one voice against this, telling the cleric: In free so­ci­ety, women are free to dress as they wish with­out some seg­ment think­ing that they are to be held re­spon­si­ble if some un­civ­i­lized preda­tor com­mits heinous crimes.

This also di­rectly tar­gets mod­er­ate Mus­lims. A cleric of such se­nior stature is widely pre­sumed to speak for his com­mu­nity — or at least for a large por­tion of it. Mod­er­ate Mus­lims need to speak out, say­ing, “He doesn’t rep­re­sent us.”

Praise­wor­thy re­sponses are emerg­ing in Aus­tralia, where a broad spec­trum is con­demn­ing the sheik. “They are ap­palling and rep­re­hen­si­ble com­ments,” the prime min­is­ter said. “The idea that women are to blame for rapes is pre­pos­ter­ous.” The Is­lamic Coun­cil of New South Wales called the re­marks “un-Is­lamic, un-Aus­tralian and un­ac­cept­able.”

Here’s Aus­tralian Fed­eral Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mis­sioner Pru Goward: “He could be guilty of in­cite­ment to the crime of rape and should be de­ported.” Said Ik­ti­mal Hage-Ali, a Mus­lim-af­fairs ad­viser to the prime min­is­ter: “The onus should not be on the fe­male to not at­tract at­ten­tion. It should be on males to learn how to con­trol them­selves.” La­bor leader Kim Bea­z­ley de­manded a re­trac­tion. Said the vic­tims of an in­fa­mous Syd­ney gang rape in 2000: “You are a sad per­son who has no un­der­stand­ing of what re­ally hap­pens when th­ese peo­ple in­flict harm and de­grad­ing acts upon me or any other young girl.”

This is a case where the mem­bers of free so­ci­ety can rise up to­gether to con­demn a view­point which doesn’t com­port with our free­doms.

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