“The husband is the ruler in his home,” according to Mauritanian scholar Sheikh Muhammed Ould Dedew, who explains in a clip posted to his YouTube Channel how to beat one’s wife in order to maintain discipline.
Because “the husband is guardian in his home,” Dedew argues, “he is required to implement the law of Allah there.” This means that “if one of the family members violates the word of Allah, the husband becomes accomplice to the sin if he does not prevent it or discipline the violating party.”
This is the crux of his argument, that if a man does not beat his wife when she “sins,” he will pay the price in the afterlife. He goes on to specify practical details, not to use a whip, not to hit her when one is angry and not to hit the face.
Wife beating is an incredibly dangerous principle to be preaching that will almost certainly lead to an increase domestic violence among his flock. The U.S. State Department described domestic violence in Mauritania as a “serious problem” in its 2015 report.
Although domestic violence is technically illegal, the report said, “the government did not enforce the law effectively, and convictions were rare. Most cases went unreported. No reliable government statistics on prosecutions, convictions, and sentences for domestic violence were available.”
Furthermore, the report said, “Police and the judiciary occasionally intervened in domestic abuse cases, but women rarely sought legal redress, relying instead on family, NGOs, and community leaders to resolve domestic disputes. Traditional sharia judges handle many domestic violence cases. NGOs reported that, in certain cases, they asked police for help to protect victims of domestic violence, but police declined to investigate.”
Dedew’s statements provide ideological support to those who want to continue this oppression of women.
Nor is Dedew a minor preacher with no following.
On the contrary he is one of the country’s most senior Salafi clerics, according to the Jamestown Foundation. In 2012 during a visit to Mauritania, the emir of Qatar demanded that the president of Mauritania reconcile with Dedew and his faction as part of democratic reforms in the country. The demand led to a diplomatic incident in which the emir left the country without an official send-off, according to the Arabic news outlet Al-Akhbar.
Evidence of Dedew’s stature can be seen from an incident in 2010 in which he was permitted by the government to negotiate for 15 days with a group of 67 detained jihadists in an effort to convince them to abandon the path of violence and stick to non-violent political Islamism.
His policy on wife beating shows that while he may be opposed to armed jihad, he can hardly be called non-violent.
Such a position expounded by a respected scholar directly encourages violence against women. Therefore, there should be no tolerance for his sect in the political sphere.
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