The latest native informer

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Islamophobia Watch this weekend drew attention to the Sunday Times’ article on Nyamko Sabuni, Sweden’s answer to Ayaan Hirsi Ali who scarpered to the USA once doubt had been cast on her grounds for any status in the Netherlands. She is the “integration and equality” minister in the recently elected conservative government, and advocates such policies as adolescent girls being checked for evidence of having undergone genital mutilation, the criminalisation of arranged marriages, no state funding for religious organisations, and that “immigrants should learn Swedish and find a job”.

I’m sure most people would agree with the last statement, that people who migrate to a given country should learn the language and not live off the state. The rest just shows the typical extreme secularist contempt for religious people in general, and Muslims in particular. With Hirsi Ali exposed and having jumped to the first available ship, Sabuni is the latest “native informer” from which enemies of the Muslim community can source lurid stories about barbaric Muslim immigrants and justifications for intrusive actions against Europe’s Muslim minorities.

To take the most obviously ridiculous of her policies: checking girls for evidence of FGM. There are two reasons why this is a bad idea, the first being that people in general do not like strangers, of either sex, looking at their private parts, which is one reason why we keep them covered. The policy presupposes that, whatever objections may be raised by the “patriarchal old guard”, the adolescent girls she wants examined will put up no resistance to the examinations, and will meekly accept them as being for their own good rather than experience them as a form of sexual abuse (which they may well do, if they have already experienced sexual abuse or the doctor uses the examination as an opportunity to carry out sexual abuse). The assumption is not a valid one.

The second reason is that, whenever the examinations are carried out, they do not prove who actually did the operation, which is what you need to know if you want to prosecute someone. Even if it happened when the parents or carers took the girl back to their home country for a holiday, the fact that FGM took place does not prove that the parents or carers did it, arranged it or even approved of it. There are many reported instances of girls undergoing FGM against the wishes of one or both of their parents. If the girl volunteers that it has been done and wants whoever did it prosecuted, fine. But in such cases, it would not take an examination.

Sabuni’s contempt for Islam is amply displayed in her attitude to the headscarf. She has called for girls under the age of 15, the age of consent in Sweden, to be banned from wearing it:

“Nowhere in the Koran does it state that a child should wear a veil; it stops them being children. By putting a veil on a girl you are immediately saying to the outside world that she is sexually mature and has to be covered. It’s wrong,” she said.

Actually, it’s widely known that many girls under the age of 15 are indeed sexually mature - at least mature enough to have sexual relationships and babies, which is depressingly common in this country if not in Sweden as well. Children that age, particularly girls, are often physically adult and want to be treated as adults, which is not achieved by banning them from wearing adult forms of dress. To do what she is suggesting is not only insulting and infantilising, it is a cynically religiously-targeted form of oppression, since Islam mandates that girls wear the hijab as soon as they reach puberty (defined as menarche), or fifteen years of age, whichever comes first. Muslim families often dress their daughters in hijab to go out, because it gets them used to it and it stops them having to effectively announce, by appearing in public in hijab one day when they are 13 or so, that they have started their periods.

And her argument about the Qur’an is completely invalid, because any moderately educated Muslim will tell you that we do not only take our religious codes from the Qur’an, but from the Qur’an, the Hadeeth, and the understandings of the Salaf, represented in such things as the ‘amal (common practice) of the people of Madinah, the reasonings of early Muslim scholars, and what they have transmitted regarding the Arabic language of the time. And what has been transmitted is that the Prophet, sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, told us that when a girl reaches puberty, nothing should show except her face and hands. Not when she reaches fifteen, if she has reached puberty before then. It is well-known that the Qur’an, while it contains legislation, contains considerably more than that and that most of the legislation of Islam is outside it. Imam Juwayni noted, according to Shaikh Nuh Keller, that the explicit wordings of the Qur’an and the Hadeeth transmit less than a tenth of what is in the Shari’a.

If we assume that she only mentions the Qur’an because she believes that her non-Muslim audience does not know about the Hadeeth, it is still terribly dishonest. If she really does believe that what of Islamic law that originates outside the Qur’an (which in reality nothing does, because Allah ta’ala tells us to obey Him and His Messenger, sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, in verses 3:312 and 8:24, no doubt among other places) is by definition inauthentic and can be disregarded, then she is a kafira and an enemy of Islam who is falsely posing as a Muslim in order to smear the Muslims. It speaks volumes that once again in Europe, a purported defence of the rights of Muslim women is proposed which will have an invasive, criminalising and marginalising effect on them, and particularly on the religious among them.

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