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Women and Minorities under Islam

Babette Francis


Most Pakistanis have been appalled by the shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai by a Taliban assassin for no reason other than she lobbied for education for girls. After being treated in a hospital in Pakistan, Malala is now recovering in Britain. She is in a way one of the “glamour” victims of Islamist ideology - if someone shot in the head can be regarded as glamorous - because she is beautiful, articulate, won a Youth Peace Prize and blogged with the BBC. However, Islamist radicals in London and Islamabad have announced a “fatwa” against Malala because they claim she is secular.

Not so “glamourous” is Rimsha Masih, a Christian 14- year-old intellectually handicapped girl, who spent three weeks in jail on spurious charges of blasphemy for burning pages of the Koran. She was allegedly set up by a local Muslim cleric, Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, who allegedly did the Koran burning and put the ashes in her bag. His objective was to drive the Christians out of that particular city. Rimsha has been acquitted, Chishti is on trial - two courageous Muslim witnesses came forward to give evidence about his plot to frame Rimsha - and Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s only Christian member of Parliament, said justice had been done. However, Rimsha and her family will probably have to go into hiding because Islamic groups are railing against the acquittal and determined to “get” her and her family.

Last July an intellectually disabled man, also on alleged “blasphemy” charges was seized from a police station and burnt alive. And the Organisation of Islamic Conference of 57 countries at the UN are trying to make “blasphemy” an international crime!

Malala was the victim of the Taliban, but Rimsha was targeted by “ordinary” Pakistanis. While Malala is protected in Britain, there was another girl on the school bus with her who was also shot. One wonders who will protect her and her family from the Taliban, and who will protect Rimsha and her family from the Islamist mob.


A new Bill to curb the discriminatory effects of Sharia law on women was debated in the House of Lords during October last year. Baroness Cox, who introduced the Arbitration and Mediation Services Bill, said that many Muslim women were “living in fear” under an unregulated quasi-legal system passing rulings in line with Islamic teachings.

According to a 2009 report by Civitas, approximately 85 Sharia bodies are operating freely in the UK. These include both arbitration Tribunals and Sharia ‘councils’ which use Islamic principles to adjudicate on a wide range of cases including matters relating to family and criminal law. The report found that the rulings enforced by such bodies were largely inconsistent with UK laws, and were inherently discriminatory against women on issues of child custody, domestic violence and divorce.

The Bill, which received its first full debate in Parliament last week, will make it unlawful for such bodies to rule on family and criminal law cases, and create the criminal offence of “falsely claiming legal jurisdiction” on cases that can only be decided by national courts. The Bill will also make it unlawful to enforce rulings that are incompatible with national equality laws, and expressly require Sharia bodies to uphold women’s right to equality under UK law.

During the debate, Baroness Cox gave examples of women who had been treated unfairly under the Sharia system, including one victim of domestic violence who, despite being admitted into hospital, was denied a religious divorce to permit her to remarry. She said: “These examples are just the tip of an iceberg as many women live in fear, so intimidated by family and community that they dare not speak out or ask for help.” (Source: Christian Concern)

American publishers have been shocked to find hatred of Jews and Christians taught in Saudi textbooks. They shouldn’t be surprised, it is in Koranic texts despite reiterations about the “Religion of Peace”. Although promising to reform their textbooks, the Saudi education system continues to indoctrinate children with hatred and incitement. Seven current and former heads of major publishing houses address the critical importance of words:

“Saudi Textbooks Incite Hate, Say Leaders in American Publishing,” by Robert L. Bernstein, Harold Evans, Larry Kirshbaum, Adam Bellow, Larry Hughes, Andre Schiffrin, and Jonathan Karp in The Daily Beast, October 17, 2012. “As current and former heads of major American publishing houses, we know the value of words. They inform actions and shape the world views of all, especially children. We are writing to express our profound disappointment that the Saudi government continues to print textbooks inciting hatred and violence against religious minorities.

“A ninth-grade textbook published by the Ministry of Education states, ‘The Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believers, and they cannot approve of Muslims.’ An eighth-grade textbook says, ‘The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.’ These are just two examples of a long list of hate-filled passages….

“Jews and Christians are apes and pigs: Whomsoever God has cursed, and with whom He is wroth, and made some of them apes and swine, and worshippers of idols – they are worse situated, and have gone further astray from the right way.’ – Koran 5:59-60”

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