February 19, 2014
Souad Sbai, a former MP and president of the Community Association of Moroccan Women in Italy (ACMID Woman) expressed her outrage at the choice of Cat Steven to open the famed Sanremo music festival. In a note Sbai said “I’m sorry I have to note once again the inability of state television to act as a public service. I find it shameful that the Parliamentary Oversight Committee at Rai television did not intervene to avoid hosting a controversial celebrity for the opening of the Sanremo music festival” Sbai is against the British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, because in the “in the 1970s converted to Islam and now goes by the name Yusuf Islam” and “ he continues to be on the blacklist for traveling to the United States.” Sbai then points out that “in 2006, here in Italy, the pop star was the subject of a parliamentary panel led by the Minister of the Interior, Giuliano Amato, for an interview in which he spoke about Islamic propaganda.”
December 19, 2013
“For years we have denounced unauthorized mosques like those reported and discovered by residents of the Esquiline Bixio street. Unfortunately, there are not enough controls on unauthorized Islamic centers of worship in Italy.”
In a statement, the president of the ACMID (Association of Moroccan Women in Italy), Souad Sbai continued “I do not think that a Muslim should feel discriminated against by the lack of suitable places to worship. In Rome, there is the largest mosque in Europe, able to host more than 25 thousand people, and today, less than 400 faithful go there for Friday Prayer.”
According to the Association president, “surely it is important to protect those who profess their faith in a peaceful manner. However, clandestine mosques can hide centers of Islamist recruitment, especially at present, in which we are witnessing an advance of jihadist groups. Italy must remain vigilant and work to close unauthorized mosques.”
19 November 2011
The Moroccan Women’s Association Netherlands and the Support Re-emigrants Foundation have reported that around 80 Moroccan Dutch women a year report being stranded in Morocco during a visit from the Netherlands. The women, who previously emigrated to the Netherlands and obtained Dutch residency through marriage, are taken to the country under false pretenses by their husbands and then left behind without passport or residence permit. Often they are accompanied by their children. The reporting organizations suspect that the number of cases is higher than reported; there is currently no law under which the women can appeal to the Moroccan police for assistance, and the Dutch police are unable to intervene in Morocco.
4 August 2011
A new lifestyle magazine, Hoda, has been created in the Netherlands to cater to Moroccan-Dutch women in topics such as beauty, travel, and cooking. Hoda Hamdaoui, the magazine’s chief editor, explains that Hoda carries articles aimed at Moroccan Dutch women whose interests and customs are different from other Dutch women. For instance, she notes, the style of makeup and clothing for work and school differs from that for Moroccan parties, information lacking in existing magazines.
Moroccan-Italian MP Souad Sbai has spent years defending battered women in the Moroccan immigrant community, and faces an increasing number of threats as she progresses through parliament. So far, three men originally from North Africa, face trial accused of making death threats against Sbai; yet, she continues to receive threatening phone calls and e-mails. “They threaten me, they scream. They make fatwas. I’ve never talked about Islam. I’ve spoken about Muslims who treat women badly. And this is a crime?” said Sbai, who was elected to parliament last year as part of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative coalition.
Sbai has lived in Italy for 30 years and is the head of the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy.
Though polygamous marriages are illegal in Italy, they are reportedly on the rise. While few Italian Muslims admit such unions, Muslim scholars put the number between 15,000-20,000 nationwide. Opinions in Italy are divided over the practice – “It’s a statistically irrelevant phenomenon that affects very few families, within which the presence of more than one wife doesn’t create problems,” said sociologist Stefano Allievi. However, Italy’s Moroccan Women’s Association president and parliamentary candidate for the centre-right People of Freedom Alliance, Souad Sbai, has a different view: There are thousands of cases of polygamy and in most instances, women suffer abuse. Husbands beat wives who don’t want to accept another wife… After a few years, polygamists sometimes abandon their second wives, who then find they are not entitled to benefits and have no rights – they cannot file for divorce, because in the eyes of the state, they were never married.”
Souad Sbai, the president of the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy claims that some Muslim women in the north of the country are being kept chained in their homes. Sbai also claims that Egypt’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood organization is slowly infiltrating Italian politics. In northern Italy, there are women that live chained at home, from the kitchen to the bathroom, without being able to open the door,” she said. Her claims took place during the presentation of a new book by Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, called _The Cost of the Veil – Islam’s War Against Women.’ Sbai praised the book as a gift to Muslim women who have suffered or died at the hands of extremism.
Italy’s Moroccan Women’s Association took part in an event to reflect on a recent decision made by a prestigious Rome university, to oppose a visit by Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope cancelled a visit to Rome’s La Sapienza University after protests by academics and students concerning his position on the astronomer Galileo. Souad Sbai, the president of the Moroccan Women’s Association said that the group’s support of the pope was also to support free speech, saying that it represents a surrender to extremists and is similar to what happens towards moderate Muslims who on many occasions are censored. Citing the picking and choosing of which guests to permit at the university, the organization backed giving the pope the chance to freely speak at the university.
The Italian supreme court recently rejected an appeal by the prosecution in the case of a Moroccan girl who had been beaten by her family, her parents and her brother. The appeal was rejected on the grounds that it was for her own good and for her non-conformity with their culture, she had gone out with a friend and her life style was not accepted by her parents. This story starts in 2003 when the parents of Fatima R. (19), a Muslim girl from Bologna, were sentenced for tying Fatima up and beating her. The court of appeals reversed the decision and this past week the supreme court confirmed it. According to the Italian judges that girl had not been beaten out of anger and it was unusual for the father, who had only beat his daughter three times in his life. According to the prosecution Fatima had been tied to a chair and released only to be brutally beaten. However the supreme court ruled that Fatima had threatened suicide out of her fear and that she had been tied up in order to prevent her from doing so. Souad Sbai of the Italian Association of Moroccan Women said that this decision was worthy of an Arab country which observed sharia law. and accused the judges of applying a double standard in the name of multiculturalism. According to Sbai a Catholic father in a similar case would have been harshly punished. Sbai says that there is excessive tolerance towards certain behaviors both from the right and left wing, who prefer political correctness over applying the Italian law.