Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Spanish imam jailed for advising husbands not to leave scars when dealing with rebellious wives

Spain's deputy PM atttacks release of controversial imam after only 20 days in jail:
"The court heard how the book talks about how men should treat women 'rebels'.
"Mustafa wrote that men should strike their women 'on the hands and feet, making sure to use a cudgel that is not too thick so as not to leave permanent scar tissue'.
"'Inflict blows that are not too strong nor too hard, because the aim is to make them suffer psychologically and not to humiliate them or mistreat them physically,' he said."

Compared to some mainstream Muslim writings on the status of women, this could almost be labeled a moderate position. Still, I understand that this is considered very rude behavior nowadays. But the man only wrote a book, nothing in the story indicates he actually did these acts. For publishing the book The Islamic Woman in 2000, his punishment included having all extant copies of his book seized by the government, paying a fine of over $2,000, and a sentence of two years in prison. In Spain, the article points out, first offenders sentenced to two years or less are routinely placed on probation with no prison time. The imam will serve probation including mandatory sensitivity training on human rights.

An interesting case. It shows how dangerous it can be to say or publish unpopular opinions in countries where human rights do not include free speech. Should authors of true crime stories be prosecuted because someone might act on their writings in contravention of the law? This case also shows that Spain's criminal justice system is even more sclerotic than ours if it takes four years for a relatively minor (as measured by the sentence) case like this to make its way through the courts.


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