August 18, 2006

'Muslim women live in terror ...'

After the killing in the northern Italian city of Brescia of a young Pakistani woman by her own family, Adnkronos International reports that in a letter to Italy’s Interior Minister Giuliano Amato, the female president of the Confederation of Moroccans in Italy, Souad Sbai, is urging to put violence against Muslim women on the agenda of the government-appointed advisory body on Islamic affairs (the “Consulta Islamica”):

"Muslim women live in terror, yes in terror! The Consulta's next meeting must tackle the problem in Italy, starting with the case of Hina Saleem, killed by her father because she wanted to be an Italian," Sbai wrote in the letter. In the letter, seen by Adnkronos International (AKI), Sbai, who has studied the problems of Muslim women in Italy, asked how many more women would die in the name of Islam. "We have seen from the episode of the young Pakistani woman murdered in Brescia how religion can become a state within a state and Islamic law be inculcated in the minds of many Muslim parents who live in our country by self-styled, uneducated preachers (imams), " Sbai stated.Hina's father, Mohammad, apparently cut her throat last week in Sarezzo after she repeatedly refused an arranged marriage to a cousin in Pakistan. The 20-year-old woman was romantically involved with an Italian, had gone to live with him, worked in a pizzeria and wanted to become an actress."These imams are religious extremists who accord women no rights," Sbai stressed. For years, they have been operating from makeshift mosques in garages or Halal butchers' shops, have fanned misogyny, have terrorised immigrant Muslim communities and have retarded their integration, she said."Minister, for how long much must we continue to turn a blind eye on a situation that harms our women, who are forced to endure this type of abuse? Must we wait for further violence, more segregration, and see more Muslim women being humiliated and even have their throats slit?" Sbai asked."Must Muslim women have to endure polygamy, even if this is prohibited by Italian law? Must they be slaves under the sexist or paternalist yoke of extremists? Those who arrive in Italy are immured in their homes and often
subjugated by the ignorance in which they are kept," Sbia said. She claimed Muslim women's documents are being confiscated by their husbands or fathers when they get to Italy, which forces them to live clandestinely and prevents them from being able to bring domestic violence charges against male relatives. Sbai denounced the forced return of Muslim girls at 14 or 15 years of age to their countries of origin to become victims of arranged marriages. "The objective is to prevent these girls from becoming Westerners, not just through gaining citizenship but above all through embracing Western societies's shared values of liberty and democaracy. These girls have no country that protects them: they are immigrants in Italy and foreigners in their countries of origin," Sbai stressed.Following the apparent 'honour killing' last week of Hina, 20, allegedly by her father, Muhammad, Amato has signalled that tougher rules may be needed for Italian citizenship, for which Muhammad - a legal resident in Italy since 1989 - had recent applied. Amato said immigrants wanting Italian citizenship must demonstrate they uphold human rights and respect for women - not just swear loyalty to the Italian constitution as required by the government's new citizenship bill due to be debated by the Italian parliament next month. Hina disappeared last Thursday and last Saturday was found buried beneath the family home in Sarezzo, facing Mecca with her throat cut. Muhammad has been arrested in connection with her murder and has reportedly confessed to killing his daughter. Police investigating Hina's killing are searching for her -brother-in-law and have also detained her uncle. They suspect Hina her father may not have acted alone in planning and carrying out her murder. The slaying has shocked Italy and has been condemned by Muslim community leaders.
Hina's boyfriend, Giuseppe Tempini, a carpenter has reportedly tried to commit suicide since her death.

UPDATE: Sunday, August 20, 2006. See also The Independent and ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome.

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