Danish Muslim women are breaking barriers in gender inequality, but they are up against increasing support within their own community for Sharia law.
When Dane Ayan Mouhoumed was younger, she wrote an op-ed in a Danish newspaper about how she wished she had been born a boy and how she envied her brother and his freedom. But today, as a 34 year old, Mouhoumed says she is happy to be a woman.
"Danish women with Muslim roots are very successful in Denmark. We are sprinting forward. We do well in education, get good jobs and are outspoken in the media,” says Mouhoumed.
Mouhoumed is the founder and editor-in-chief of Ethnica Magazine, which covers politics and culture. Last summer, she graduated from the Danish School of Media and Journalism. By all accounts, she's on her way to a successful life.
In February, some Danish Muslim women made inroads into what is traditionally male-dominated territory by opening Scandinavia's first female-only mosque in Copenhagen.
Also, many young women are choosing their own partner, says Khaterah Parwani, a Danish citizen of Afghan descent and deputy chairwoman and judicial adviser of the Exit Circle.
With these examples and many more, one can see that Scandinavian culture, which values gender equality, has begun to infiltrate the Muslim community in Denmark. Unfortunately, it appears it is competing with rising support for Sharia law.
In a recent television documentary that aired on a Danish network titled The Mosques Behind the Veil, two non-Danish Muslims were brought into Denmark to do some undercover investigating, posing as a young married couple, in some of the mosques in Denmark. What they discovered was disturbing.
The series begins in the Grimhøj mosque where its head, Oussama El Saadi, says he hopes ISIS will win and that there will be an Islamic world government. The imam of that same mosque, Abu Bilal, was sentenced last year in Germany for inciting hatred against both Jews and non-Jews, and fined €10,000.
Fatma, the wife in the “married” couple, learned from imam Abu Bilal that married women who commit infidelity should be stoned to death, and Muslims who leave Islam may be killed. He makes no reservations about these teachings. Fatma was also told that a woman may not take a job without her husband's permission.
Abu Bilal further says that her husband is entitled to take another wife. Fatma is not allowed to deny her husband his "sexual rights," even when he is violent. When she asks the imam if she should involve the police, the answer was an emphatic "no."
Fatma attends three other mosques in Aarhus, one of which publicly claims to be "moderate." All of the clerics give her the same answers, however.
It’s unclear at the moment how far-reaching an impact the teachings at these mosques has had on the Danish Muslim community at large, but it is definitely cause for concern. These leaders are influential religious figures, and therefore, it is naive to assume their words have no influence. They should be taken seriously if women, and even the larger non-Muslim Danish community are to be kept safe.
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