It was a great honor for Canada to welcome Baroness Caroline Cox of the UK House of Lords last week.
How to describe this indomitable person? A headline of The Daily Telegraph reads:
“The feisty baroness defending ‘voiceless’ Muslim women: Baroness Cox of Queensbury is fighting to stop sharia ‘seeping’ into enforcing divorce settlements.”
Cox has increasingly become involved in endeavors to be a “voice for the voiceless” in the UK, where she has been working on behalf of Muslim women suffering from gender discrimination inherent in the application of sharia law.
She introduced a private member’s bill into the House of Lords to highlight the issues and address some of the problems. This has strong support from members of all parties in both chambers as well as Muslim women’s organisations. The website www.equalandfree.org provides updates on this and related initiatives.
That’s not all Baroness Cox does. She is an advocate for and mentors victims of UK grooming gangs. She is also the founder and CEO of an organization called Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) through which she has campaigned for humanitarian causes, particularly relating to disabilities.
Through HART, she travels to remote parts of the world to personally meet victims of oppression and persecution including those in northern Uganda afflicted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA); the people of Timor Leste, who are still affected by the Indonesian occupation (with a particular focus on child malnutrition); and Dalits in India, including Devadasi women entrapped in the enforced prostitution of the centuries-old tradition of “temple service.”
She is a voice for persecuted Christians in areas of the world where there is little media coverage and where traditional humanitarian aid does not reach.
Of course, Islamists in Canada were irked by the presence of Baroness Cox, as they are with other activists who speak on Muslim matters. They are afraid the truth may expose their own falsehoods in the communities they have succeeded in fooling.
So the Islamists set out to derail her appearance in Ottawa. Individual Islamists with anti-Semitic views and Islamist organizations closely affiliated with a terrorist entity went to media and cried “Islamophobia” (as Islamists are wont to do so that their own shortcomings can be deflected).
They tried to turn the baroness’s visit into a smear campaign leveling unfounded accusations against her. One of the accusations was that she invited Geert Wilders to speak in UK.
To her credit, Cox responded with frankness to all the allegations made against her and even offered to speak to her detractors but, of course, they did not respond.
“1. I work with, and have very affectionate relationships, with Muslim women’s groups in the UK helping them with problems caused by gender discrimination inherent in the application of Sharia Law in the UK. If interested, please see an article in the Daily Telegraph with the heading ‘They would love to call me Islamophobic – but I love Muslim women.’
“Please see our website www.equalandfree.com for evidence of work to help Muslims in the UK. Anyone can be in touch with Muslim women’s organisations mentioned on that website to counter allegations of Islamophobic sentiments.
“Also, in my humanitarian work, we risk our lives to help Muslims suffering at the hands of oppressive regimes – such as the Muslims in Blue Nile State, Sudan. We visited them last year; met 9,000 IDPs who had fled from civil war and were at risk of dying from starvation – and raised funds to save their lives. So I will robustly challenge any attempts to call me ‘Islamophobic’ or to the claim that I spread ‘fear and division’. You should have seen the warmth and appreciation – and love – expressed by many Sudanese Muslims at a meeting I chaired in Parliament last week. They (and many Muslim women) will readily come to my defence if any slurs are published about me being ‘Islamophobic!
“2. Yes, I did support Geert Wilders’ visit to UK. I believe in freedom of speech; he was a democratically elected member of a European Parliament; and I do not agree with all he says, but one cannot have a dialogue to discuss different views if you promote censorship.”
Much to the surprise and chagrin of Islamists, and despite their pushback, Baroness Cox’s appearances in Toronto and Ottawa were a huge success, especially in relation to women and youth. In Toronto at a seminal event, she stood and spoke alongside courageous women from the Muslim world and was awarded a medal of courage.
This is the difference between Islam and Islamism. Moderate Muslims support those who work towards human rights and the integrity of women, rejecting those norms against humanity incorporated in some aspects of sharia.
Islamists, on the other hand, want to politicize an activist’s visit to shut down all discussion and debate.