By RICHARD SHEARS
11 October, 2008
A Muslim cleric's claim that women who do not wear the veil are like 'uncovered meat' who attract sexual predators sparked outrage around Australia yesterday.
Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, the nation's most senior Muslim cleric, compared immodestly-dressed women who do not wear the Islamic headdress with meat that is left uncovered in the street and is then eaten by cats.
Politicians including Prime Minister John Howard, community leaders and a large number of Muslims condemned the mufti's comments amid calls that he should be deported to Egypt, his country of origin.
He has since been forced to apologise for his remarks.
In a Ramadam sermon in a Sydney mosque, Sheik al-Hilali suggested that a group of Muslim men recently jailed for many years for gang rapes were not entirely to blame.
There were women, he said, who 'sway suggestively' and wore make-up and immodest dress "and then you get a judge without mercy and gives you 65 years. But the problem, but the problem all began with who?" he said, referring to the women victims.
Addressing 500 worshippers on the topic of adultery, Sheik al-Hilali added: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it..whose fault is it - the cats or the uncovered meat?
"The uncovered meat is the problem."
He went on: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab (veil), no problem would have occurred."
Women, he said, were 'weapons' used by Satan to control men.
His comments, reported yesterday in the nationally-circulated newspaper The Australian, created a storm of outrage.
It follows anger that erupted among Muslims in Britain earlier this month when MP Jack Straw said women who wear veils over their face can make community relations harder.
But Sheik al-Hilali's has created an even bigger storm by using the uncovered meat example to accuse women who do not cover their heads and faces of tempting men.
Prime Minister Howard labelled the mufti's comments as 'appalling and reprehensible', adding: "They are quite out of touch with contemporary values in Australia.
"The idea that women are to blame for rapes is preposterous. I not only reject the comments, I condemn them unconditionally." Treasurer Peter Costello urged the Muslim community to condemn the comments and take action against the Sheik.
"If you have a significant religious leader like this preaching to a flock in a situation where we've had gang rapes, in a way that seems to make it justifiable, or at least lighten the dehumanising and degrading extent of the offence."
A close associate of the sheik, Keysar Trad, said the speech was about adultery, not rape. "He wasn't talking about standard norms of dress in Australia or any country, he wasn't talking about the hijab, he was talking about people who engage in extramarital sex."
But Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Miss Pru Goward said there could be no backtracking over the comments. "He could be guilty of incitement to the crime of rape and should be deported," she said.
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Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below?
What a stuipd comment this is. The man is an un-educated, uncivilised moron and doesn't deserve the freedom and hospitality that Australia offers him!
- Vicky, ex-pat, Paris, France, 26/10/2006 13:32
I am confident Australia will have the good sense to deport this idiot back to Eygypt where he will be happier and so will Australians. I regret missing my chance to emigrate to Australia but if this git can get in perhaps it's not too late for me.
- Thaila, London, 26/10/2006 13:14
What an outrage! These men are trying to set women's rights back to the stone age. I have experienced on many occasions, the husband/partner of the woman who is wearing the hijab staring me up and down even though I am moderately dressed, whilst their women are completely covered so only their eyes are showing. I find it entirely hypocritical that they are able to have a good old look at me, whilst their women are covered up! It is also the women who are stoned to death for committing adultery, not the men. Sheik al-Hilali says women, were 'weapons' used by Satan to control men. Seems it is the men who are controlling the women and blaming them for their own wickedness! Covering a woman from head to toe will never take away a man's urges to do what he wants to do. Never.
- Jb, Gloucestershire England, 26/10/2006 13:09
What a difference between the Australian premier and the way weasely Blair deals with the same problems!
- David Hamilton-Williams, East grinstead/UK, 26/10/2006 15:26
If they don't like our way of life they are free to go!
- Jon, London, 26/10/2006 15:29
Could we have some Australian politicians here please. They at least appear to have some backbone.
- William., Bolton UK, 26/10/2006 15:38
This man is obviously mentally and physically at odds with women and sex.
- James Stuart, Chorley U.K., 26/10/2006 15:42
What a sick comment to make! He should definitely be deported! Talk about being out of touch! The world doesn't need people like him.
- Madeline, Cornwall, UK, 26/10/2006 15:46
Apologies or not, the fact remains it some what re-enforces the notion some Muslims don't want to integrate to or understand western society. He said what he said with no provocation and one would assume a clear head.
- Edd, Herts, 26/10/2006 15:49
I thought adultery was a married person having sex with someone who is not their marriage partner. An unmarried person, therefore, cannot commit adultery, even if it's with a married person, because they haven't vowed to commit to one person.
- Dave, Basingstoke, UK, 26/10/2006 15:58
He should be deported and thankfully, Australia has the guts to do it. So, get on with it, Oz!
- Rosie Knight, Emerald City, Barbados, 26/10/2006 16:03
Where do these people come from? Why do these people feel compelled to emigrate to countries where their views are totally abhorrent?
- Jack Wilson, Melbourne, Australia, 26/10/2006 16:20
Shocking and dangerous! He clearly said the crimes committed by his followers was justify, therefore if the criminals hadn't been court he'd have protected them. Absolute horror!
- Sabina Newson, Dorking, Surrey England, 26/10/2006 16:25
Good on Australia a country prepared to call a spade a spade deport this cave man back to where he came from. Take note Blair
- Steve P, Leeds England, 26/10/2006 16:37
I think anyone living in a modern democracy would have more in common with the occupants of a flying saucer than people with his mindset.
- Mike Mines, london uk, 26/10/2006 16:39
Are the Australians going soft? This man should be investigated, prosecuted and jailed. The he should be deported.
- Steve Davis, Birmingham, United Kingdom, 26/10/2006 17:12
Well I for one am very happy to be a piece of 'uncovered meat' and have been for the past 60 plus years and if this man wants his 'meat covered' than he is free to go to a Country where this is so.
- Freddie, Northants, 26/10/2006 17:15
Why the shock-horror reaction? Sheik al-Hilali was only expressing the normal view on the subject of rape in his country of origin and many other Islamic countries. In Egypt, women are always regarded as to blame for their own rape and are always harshly punished for their 'crime'. Doesn't everyone know this by now?
- J M Green, Lichfield, Staffs, 26/10/2006 17:18
Thank goodness for the strength and honesty of John Howard and his ministers. No shilly shallying about the issue. The cleric should be deported and that's that! If only Tony Blair and his lot were as strong and not so terrified of offending people.
- Joan, Knoxville, Tennessee, 26/10/2006 17:21
This idiot just wanted his 15 mins of fame, ignore him, he really is not worth wasting any time or effort on.
- Carole, UK, 26/10/2006 17:28
This seems to be more insulting to men. He has compared them to animals by saying that a man in the presence of a woman has as much self control as an animal near meat. Perhaps we should take him seriously and ban men from wondering around on their own.
- Sal, UK, 26/10/2006 17:30
Yet another complete idiot... and all said in the name of religion. These war fanatics haven't got the first idea about religion.
- Tracey Jane Donnelly, Paisley, Scotland, 26/10/2006 17:31
Oh Dear! Where are the radical feminists? Why are they so silent?
- Gib, UK, 26/10/2006 17:39
Courtesy: Mail online
"Jaisa Desh vaisa bhes" meaning when you are in Rome do what Roman does. Islam is a very liberal and highly flexible religion It has asked its followers not to disaband their traditional dress or the dress of the country to which they belong. People like the cleric Tajuddin Sheikh Hilali, the half-baked Mullahs must not be tolerated for his comments about the Muslim women not wearing traditional veil. He must go back to his country Egypt, where women are seen in more westernised dresses than anywhere in the world. All are not burqa clad in many of the Arab world. They were given freedom to chose the dress they would like to wear. Such restrictions in Afghanistan by Taliban brought out their down fall. See now women in Afghan and Iran are taking part in all forms of sports and are free to wear the dresses to their likings. Allah says in Holy Quran, dress well and eat well but thank Him. There is no Hadith that prohibits such dresses but would like women to be within the bounds. No Muslim family would ever let their children expose their body in public glare as they too have their standing in the society. What is wrong if they were jeans like their friends in the colleges. See how others have aped the Muslim women dresses like Chudidar, maxis etc. This assimilation of culture is required as the Muslim girls should not be segreated from the rest on account of their dresses etc. Such kind of sermons have done more damage to the status of women in Islam as they are already accused of not giving equal status. It is the duty of the parents among the Muslims to see that their children are not left behind the rest of the world. Do not listen to half-baked Mullahs and live a life within the bounds.