The Blunders of Multiculturalism in Germany

by editor Sanaz Raji

Recently I read of a court decision regarding Nisha, a 26 year old Moroccan living in Germany. Nisha filed for an early divorce on the grounds that her husband was beating her. However, the court decision produced a shocking surprise– the female judge, following the logic of multiculturalism, said that Nisha (and other Muslim women residing with their Muslim spouses in Germany) should “expect” to be beaten, citing what I believe is a poor translation of the Qu’ran stating that a man has the right to “corporal punishment”. This absolute reading of Sura 4, verse 34, as allowed for Muslim women to be treated as Johannas Hari puts “reduced to third-class citizens stripped of core legal protections – because of the doctrine of multiculturalism, which says a society should be divided into separate cultures with different norms according to ethnic origin.” I’ve put an a link to his excellent article on this topic-

http://comment.independent.co.uk/columnists_a_l/johann_hari/article2496657.ece 

When I learned of this decision, needless to say I was completely shocked (which is a vast understatement)! Didn’t Judge Christa Datz-Winter consult with an Islamic scholar? Certainly a credible Islamic scholar would have told the judge that her reading of this particular Sura is one of many interpretations. Christianity as well as Judaism have a history of putting women on a lower status too- why is Islam all of sudden, with the crudest of translations being made an example almost to equate it as a barbaric religion? Also, the majority of translations of the Qu’ran have been done by men, either born as Muslims or Western converts to the faith. Rarely has their been a female voice in the translation of the Qu’ran until now, with Laleh Bakhtiar, who has translated Sura 4, verse 34 to mean that a man would ask his wife to “go away”. You can read more about this on this link on the International Herald Tribune:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/03/25/news/koran.php?page=1

It pains me that Islam is not only politicized in the Islamic world, but also in so-called secular societies. I believe much of this has to do with the fear of the recent increase in Muslims in the rest of Europe, especially given that Muslim families have more children than their European counterparts. This is evident in France with the banning of hijab, to how British Asians are routinely discriminated and demonized in the media. Everyone talks about “multiculturalism” and “getting along”, but if we are truly to do “get along”, it isn’t just the sole responsibility of the Muslim community,it is also the responsibility of each of us to come together and learn from one another. There is too much Islamophobia that I have witnessed since 9/11 and 7/7 and multiculturalism shouldn’t be utilized to give way to legal racism and bigoted interpretations of culture and tradition. 

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1 Comment

Filed under Islam, op ed, women

One response to “The Blunders of Multiculturalism in Germany

  1. kpsoho69

    This case is extremely shocking How is it possible that a judge in a democratic state can justify such violence? That’s tolerance turned on its head. It’s shameful.

    Regarding feminist interpretations of Islam, I came across an interesting article. In it, prof. Gudrun Kraemer from the Freie Universitaet Berlin talks about the interpretations put forward by prof. Omaima Abu Bakr, professor for English literature at the University of Qatar.

    http://www.tagesspiegel.de/magazin/wissen/Islamischer-Feminismus;art304,2331733

    Regarding the German case, two points should be mentioned that Johann Hari leaves out, namely that while she did not let the couple divorce early, the judge did apparently take measures to protect the wife by allocating her the family flat and denying the husband the right to approach her. This does not at all justify her denial for early divorce, but it was neither a case, as Hari puts it, of just sending the wife back home to her husband. The judge was heavily criticised for her verdict and the case was subsequently taken away from her on the grounds of her prejudices/bias (German: Befangenheit). See for that:

    http://www.sz-online.de/nachrichten/artikel.asp?id=1442966

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