Most Danes do not believe people should be able to say whatever they want publicly

October 12, 2010

Efforts by the right-wing Danish People’s Party (DF) to eliminate the law against making racially-charged public comments will be an uphill battle, according to a new poll on the issue. A Rambøll/Analyse Danmark poll this week showed that a vast majority of Danes support the law – even the DF’s own voters. Overall, nearly 69 percent of the 944 adults polled said the law should remain intact, while 21 percent were in favor of doing away with it, primarily on the grounds of preserving free speech.

The law has been in the spotlight recently after the public prosecutor’s office decided to press charges against Jesper Langballe, a DF member of parliament, over his written comments about Muslims. In January, Langballe defended the president of the Free Speech Society, Lars Hedegaard, who in an interview had claimed that Muslim fathers rape their daughters. “Naturally Hedegaard shouldn’t have said that when the truth instead seems to be that they’re satisfied with just honor killing their daughters and turning a blind eye to the uncles’ rapes,” wrote Langballe.

No date has yet been set for Langballe’s trial, but DF has been pushing to have both the charges and the law dropped. According to the law, it is forbidden to make public comments that “denigrate, debase or threaten based on race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation”. In addition, the law covers remarks that incite terrorism and also explicitly protects the royal family from defamation.

Controversial FPÖ Lecturer to Appear in Court

15 September 2010

Elisabeth Sabatisch-Wolff, the controversial lecturer of an FPÖ (Freedom Party of Austria) seminar on Islam, will appear in court on charges of incitation and hate speech. The public attorney’s office of Vienna has filed an official complaint against Ms. Sabatisch-Wolff, whose comments such as “Islam is evil,” “Muslims are hostile,” and that “Muslims rape their children due to their religion,” came about as part of an “Islam-seminar” at the FPÖ educational institute. The controversy surrounding her comments has led the council of ministers to discuss ways by which to force political parties to repay state funds that were allocated for their educational institutes.

The director of the institute, Klaus Nittman, has stated that he would “naturally” continue to employ Ms. Sabatisch-Wolff. While denouncing the “witch hunt against enlightened women,” Nittman warned that “legal officials must take care not to become the lackeys of the sharia.”

Muslim man at centre of French firestorm over polygamy charged with aggravated rape

News Agencies – August 7, 2010

A Muslim Frenchman cited by officials as a reason behind a crackdown on polygamy has been charged with aggravated rape. Lies Hebbadj, who lives in the Nantes region, was charged with aggravated rape based on a complaint from a former companion. The Algerian-born Hebbadj made headlines for purportedly being a polygamist, but because his reported four companions and up to 15 children live under separate roofs investigators could not prove polygamy as defined by law. He was charged in June with fraud for allegedly collecting too much state aid for the women and children.
The case became public last April when his veiled wife was issued a traffic citation for driving with apparel that hinders vision.
French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux referred to Hebbadj before announcing plans to include polygamy and female genital mutilation on a list of practices that could lead to revocation of French citizenship from immigrants. Hortefeux said he would formally submit the plan, which has drawn controversy, by the end of the month.

Indian Islamic Teacher Barred from Canada

An Indian Muslim televangelist who was banned from Britain for “unacceptable behavior” will not be allowed into Canada to speak at an upcoming conference in Toronto. Dr. Zakir Naik, who has said “every Muslim should be a terrorist” and that Jews are “our staunchest enemy,” was to headline next month’s Journey of Faith Conference — which is billed as one of North America’s largest Islamic conferences and is expected to attract upward of 10,000 people.

The 44-year-old medical doctor recommends capital punishment for homosexuals and the death penalty for those who abandon Islam as their faith. He has said that a man is within his right to beat his wife “lightly,” although in a July 2009 YouTube video he cautioned against hitting her on the face or leaving a mark. The “Keep Zakir Naik Out of Canada” Facebook group, which was launched over the weekend, also points out his view that Western women make themselves “more susceptible to rape” by wearing revealing clothing.

According to the Journey of Faith event website, the “hope” of the July 2-4 2010 conference at the downtown Metro Toronto Convention Centre is for Muslims to “renew their forgotten relationship” with the Koran.

Muslim “hate preacher” is let into Britain

The home secretary, Theresa May, is facing a stiff test of the Conservative party’s claims to oppose radical Islam after her officials chose to allow a misogynist Muslim preacher into Britain.

Zakir Naik, an Indian televangelist described as a “hate-monger” by moderate Muslims and one Tory MP, says western women make themselves “more susceptible to rape” by wearing revealing clothing.

Naik, who proselytises on Peace TV, a satellite television channel, is reported to have called for the execution of Muslims who change their faith, described Americans as “pigs” and said that “every Muslim should be a terrorist”.

In opposition, David Cameron and other senior Tories led criticism of the Labour government for allowing radical preachers into Britain to stir up hatred on lecture tours. While in opposition, Cameron also campaigned to get Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian radical, banned from Britain.

MP says Muslims kill their daughters

In continuation of the heated debate that followed the controversial statements on Muslim fathers and rape by president of the Danish Free Press Society, Lars Hedegaard, MP for Danish People’s Party, Jesper Langballe, in a feature in a nationwide paper wrote that “of course Hedegaard shouldn’t say that Muslim fathers rape their daughters when the truth is that they kill them (the so called honour killings) – and in addition don’t pay notice to uncles’ rape of their daughters”. Also these statements lead to condemnation of Langballe from all parts of the political spectrum – including the Danish Prime Minister who said that Langballe’s words “are stupid and generalizing”. Leader of the Danish People’s Party, Pia Kjærsgaard, also said that it was stupid of Langballe to write such statements and that they are damaging for the Danish People’s Party.

Turkish/Moroccan Girls in Netherlands Do Not Seek Help for Assault

Trouw reports on an announcement by the UMC Utrecht that it will offer special services for Turkish and Moroccan girls and young women who have experienced sexual attacks. According to the National Psycho-Trauma Center for Children and Youth, these girls rarely seek professional help. None of the 250 assaulted and raped girls between 13-15 years old who turned to the center in 2005 was of Turkish or Moroccan origin, though sexual violence is as common among this group. The National Psycho-Trauma Center will visit schools, community centers and mosques at the beginning of the school year in order to bring Turkish and Moroccan girls who have been raped to the center.

The Father of Child-Bride Sentenced to One Year in Prison

The father of a 14 year-old girl married in a Muslim religious ceremony in Evry at 14 in 2000 was sentenced to 30 months (with a 12-month prison sentence) for being complicit this underage marriage. On February 11, 2009, the husband of the young girl, then a 21-year old Moroccan who had paid between 300-450 Euros for the girl, was sentenced to two-years in prison. The original accusations were of rape and sequestration, but these were reformulated after long deliberation in court. The female companion of the girl’s father, who purchased the wedding dress and gave the girl birth control pills was also sentenced to 2 months in prison for her participation.

Female Globe and Mail columnists reflect on wearing the burka in Afghanistan

Since The Globe and Mail daily newspaper began staffing its Afghanistan bureau full-time in 2006, it has sent a number of female news correspondents to the country. In light of the current controversy over Afghan women’s rights, this article features four journalists who reflect on their own experiences in the country. Jane Armstrong notes the invisibility of women in public spaces in Kandahar City; Christie Blatchford notes the hostility toward her presence in small villages in the countryside as she wore only a headscarf. Gloria Galloway claims, “The full-body veil is, after all, a constraining garment. Peripheral vision is eliminated and even the view straight ahead is hazy through the lace. It’s also hot and stuffy and awkward, with folds of fabric that catch in doors and wire fencing. But it provides security for both me and my fixer. And it sheds some light on how most women in southern Afghanistan experience the world outside their compounds.” The four journalists say nothing of the new family law on rape in marriage.

Marriage visa age raised to prevent forced marriages

The age at which someone can apply for a marriage visa will increase from 18 to 21 as part of a crackdown on forced marriage, the Home Office announced on Wednesday. In 2007 the Forced Marriage Unit dealt with 215 cases of overseas forced marriage where the age of the victim was known, 69 of which involved people aged between 18 and 20. The proposals were set out in “Marriage Visas: The Way Forward”. The five key proposals announced were to raise the age of sponsorship for a marriage visa from 18 to 21; ask foreign spouses to enter into an agreement to learn English before they come to the UK; introduce a power to revoke leave to remain where there is evidence that the marriage route has been abused; require all sponsors to register their intention to marry overseas before they leave the UK; and ensure through a code of practice that specialist teams can identify vulnerable people at risk of forced marriage. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: “Forced marriage leads to victims suffering years of physical and mental abuse and – in extreme cases – unlawful imprisonment and rape. It has no place in our society. That is why the Government is determined to do everything it can to stamp it out and to ensure that victims receive the help and support they need.