Muslim leader blames scantily-dressed women for sex attacks

November 14th, 2007 - 2:45 am ICT by admin  
In a Ramadan sermon that has outraged Muslim women leaders, The Australian quoted Sydney-based Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali as saying that gang rapes in Sydney could not be entirely blamed on the attackers.

While not specifically referring to the rapes, brutal attacks on four women for which a group of young Lebanese men received long jail sentences, Sheik Hilali said there were women who “sway suggestively” and wore make-up and immodest dress … “and then you get a judge without mercy (rahma) and gives you 65 years”.

“But the problem, but the problem all began with who?” he asked.

The leader of the 2000 rapes in Sydney’s southwest, Bilal Skaf, a Muslim, was initially sentenced to 55 years’ jail, but later had the sentence reduced on appeal.

In the religious address on adultery to about 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, Sheik Hilali said: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

“The uncovered meat is the problem.”

The sheik then said: “If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.”

He said women were “weapons” used by “Satan” to control men.

Muslim women community leaders, however, have expressed outrage over Sheik Hilali’s remarks, insisting the cleric was no longer worthy of his title as Australia’s mufti.

Young Muslim adviser Iktimal Hage-Ali - who does not wear a hijab - said the Islamic headdress was not a “tool” worn to prevent rape and sexual harassment.

“It’s a symbol that readily identifies you as being Muslim, but just because you don’t wear the headscarf doesn’t mean that you’re considered fresh meat for sale,” the former member of John Howard’s Muslim advisory board told The Australian.

“The onus should not be on the female to not attract attention, it should be on males to learn how to control themselves,” she said.

Australia’s most prominent female Muslim leader, Aziza Abdel-Halim, said the hijab did not “detract or add to a person’s moral standards”, while Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Waleed Ali said it was “ignorant and naive” for anyone to believe that a hijab could stop sexual assault.

Hage-Ali said she was “disgusted and offended” by Shiek Hilali’s comments. “I find it very offensive that a man who considers himself as a mufti, a leader of Australia’s Muslims, can give comment that lacks intelligence and common sense.”

Yesterday, the mufti defended the sermon about “adultery and theft”, a recorded copy of which has been obtained and translated by The Australian.

Sheik Hilali said he only meant to refer to prostitutes as “meat” and not any scantily dressed woman with no hijab.

He told The Australian the message he intended to convey was: “If a woman who shows herself off, she is to blame … but a man should be able to control himself”. He said if a woman is “covered and respectful” she “demands respect from a man. But when she is cheap, she throws herself at the man and cheapens herself.”

Sheik Hilali also insisted his references to the Sydney gang rapes were to illustrate that Skaf was guilty and worthy of receiving such a harsh sentence. (ANI)

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