Marriage is a very important part of Muslim culture. In fact, as soon as most Muslims enter their late teens, parents start dropping hints about marriage. Often you are expected to get married, or at least engaged, in you early-20s and if you get to the ripe old age of 30 without being married, your community starts to pity you and question your normality.
Ghaffar Hussein examines some of the explanations provided to explain the protests and violence throughout the Muslim in response to a low-budget, obscure anti-Islamic film. "I interpret much of what I see taking place in Muslim-majority societies as a reaction to this cognitive dissonance which emerges when Muslims consider the status of Islam and Muslims in the world today." The full article can be found at at The Commentator website here.
A link to Tehmina's debate with Aisha Gill on BBC Radio 4 explaining why the criminalisation of forced marriages would help victims, and how it is consistent with Islamic as well as secular values: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01jqb8h (skip to 36 minutes 54 seconds into the broadcast).
Ahmad Mansour's plea against Salafism was published in the German Daily Die Zeit on May 29, 2012. The English translation is below:
First of all, I would like to clarify one thing. I am a Muslim but Salafists are not my brothers and I am not part of fictitious, globally suppressed Muslim community – the so called Ummah. Salafism does not represent me, either as an individual or as a human being. They do not represent Islam as I understand it. In contrast to them, I believe that freedom of speech, democracy, human rights and tolerance are not one way streets or instruments to spread hatred in Europe.
Much has been written and reported on Salafism. In current debates there is an unfortunate marked absence of Muslim voices. (Click on Read More below for the rest of the article)
Criminalising Forced Marriages - letter to the Editor of the UK Independent published 20th April 2012. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/letters/letters-ending-sweatshops-costs-money-7661561.html
20th April 2012 Laws against forced marriage
We are grassroots activists and professionals working in two countries where forced marriage is a criminal offence – Germany and Belgium – and Sweden, where the government is likely to make a proposal to criminalise forced marriage in May.
Dr Aisha Gill and others argue (Letters, 6 April) that sufficient protection for victims of forced marriage is available under the existing criminal code, which punishes kidnap, violence and gross violations of women's rights etc. This does not take account of the fact that forced marriage involves very much more than any one of these individual offences. Victims are often threatened with violence by people close to them and regularly within the home for months or even years. The law does not protect victims from the emotional coercion that this involves.
Dr Gill et al also argue that criminalising forced marriage will deter victims from reporting incidents. While the criminalisation laws are relatively recent in Germany and Belgium and comprehensive statistics are not yet readily available, there is evidence that criminalisation has led to an increase in reporting in Denmark, which criminalised forced marriages in 2008.
One of the key successes of criminalising forced marriage in Germany and Belgium has been to strengthen the resolve of families or individuals who need help to resist pressure from others to marry a family member or other whom they have not themselves chosen. The penal provision provides them with the confidence to be better able to withstand these pressures and maintain their right under the law not to be subjected to coercion.
Finally, we believe that criminalising forced marriage has educated relevant practitioners and increased knowledge among relevant authorities for the benefit of the victims, who would not necessarily receive the physical protection that they very often need in these situations.
Ahmad Mansour, Berlin
Sara Mohammad, Stockholm, Sweden
Michelle Waelput, Mons, Belgium
Tulay Demarcq, Mons-Quévy, Belgium
Roberta Bonazzi, Brussels
Published in the Huffington Post today, by Tehmina Kazi, Director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy
"The right to choose who you will live with, sleep with, eat with and possibly raise children with, for the rest of your life, is as basic a right as they come. Violations of this right are not only disastrous for the individuals involved, but they undermine values that are fundamental to British society and Islam itself (...) The Qu'ran is clear on the importance of upholding justice, even if it means testifying against family members: 'O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, and your relatives, or whether it is against the rich or the poor...' (Quran 4:135). " The full article can be found at: