The media silence is a function of political correctness and cultural relativism. To mention these murders, to highlight the human dramas around forced marriages occurring in Europe today, is “racist” because it allegedly stigmatizes immigrants, “islamophobic” because it allegedly stigmatizes Islam and, perhaps worst of all, because it is thought to encourages the extreme right. But even if this silence, this voluntary blindness, this establishment determination to ignore or distort facts, would foil the extreme right, it surely promotes another extremism at least as sinister; Muslim extremists want these stories hushed-up, or want these women to be presented as victims of normal criminality, as “battered women”, “abused children”, victims of a familiar sort of criminality whose source is sub-social brutality or the extra-legal authoritarianism of pathological individuals.
But these are not victims of such familiar criminality because these particular murders and forced marriages have a lawful character; the law which sanctions them, however, is not French law or European law_at least not yet. This amazing situation should be the object of public debate but discussion of the relation of the sacred law of Islam to French society is baffled both by French law, which restricts religion to the private sphere, and European culture itself.
To understand this cultural barrier let us look at one example: divorce. The catholic conception of marriage excludes divorce, but no French Catholic today, however much they deplore divorse, dreams of interfering with the state authority which guarantees each individual’s freedom to divorce. This state guarantee of individual freedom is even understood by French Catholics as culturally fundamental, because they understand it as a crucial protection of that liberty of conscience essential to their religion. When someone wants to divorce, a French Catholic never thinks of using force to stop or dissuade them, because they understand the problem as fundamentially spiritual. From a Christian point of view the problem is less the divorce itself than the state of the soul of the person choosing divorce. The practical consiquences of divorce, however bad, are nothing compaired to the spiritual consequences, which are directly a function of the individual choice. Europeans, therefore, have difficulty understanding the sinister and blatantly anti-social acts in question, in terms of religious doctrine.
Islamic law, in distinction to French law, forbids Muslim women to marry out of their faith. This interdiction is based on a passage in the Koran:
Oh ye faithful !
When Muslim women, who have voyaged far, return; try them.
God knows their faith.
If you consider them faithful do not send them back to the infidels;
such women are no longer licit for them,
and the infidels are no longer licit for such women.
[Sourate 60, verse 10: Al-Moumtahana]
Many non-Islamic Frenchmen who have dated a Muslim woman have been confronted with a demand to convert to Islam if they wish to pursue the relationship. The problem created in French society by this Islamic law is reinforced by another, against apostasy (renouncing Islam), promulgated in two hadiths (sacred non-Koranic texts):
The blood of a Muslim who accepts that there is no other god but Allah, and that I am his prophet, cannot be spilt, except in three cases: for murderers, for married persons who practice sex in an illegal manner, and for those who distance themselves from Islam and abandon the Muslims. [Sahîh Bukhari, vol. 9, book 83, #17, told by Abdullah]
Whosoever changes his religion; kill him. [Sahîh de al-Bukhari, vol. 9, book 84, #57, told by Ibn Abbas]
Such sacred laws are inseparable from the fear that Muslim women who marry non-Muslims risk apostasy—an unacceptable act punishable by death—through the influence of their husbands. Given the place Islam occupies in Muslim culture, in the Muslim conception of social and political order, it is intolerable that the Oomma (the world-wide Muslim community) be exposed to this risk. This problem is exacerbated in Europe where sexual equality is a temptation for Muslim women.
Muslims in Europe cope with the incompatibility of such Islamic laws with French law by covering the practice of the Muslim laws with silence.
The fact of forced marriage in contemporary France is thus explained. Some of these marriages end tragically, as in the case of Hina and Sezen. Many other tragedies are related to female circumcission and poligamy. If the French media and the government, rather than ignoring and hiding from these facts, would abandon their obsession with the extreme right and openly remind parents who put Islamic law above French law that marriage in France must be consensual, the long awaited Islamic moderation might begin to emerge.
To tell every Ninth grade girl that she is free, under French law, to marry whomever she would like, would be to protect her against an infamous moral harassment, and help prevent further unlawful acts. In fact the attitude of the French media and government is itself unlawful, for hiding these crimes against totally unprotected and abandoned young women is to participate in the violation of their basic rights, rights allegedly guaranteed to all in France. Worse; it is to become an accessory to future murders of such women, committed in the name of a new kind of gender based, and even racial segregation. There is a law in France against “non-assistance of persons in danger”!
This de facto segregation targets a particularly vulnerable group, women fragile by reason of age and cultural disorientation. The French media and government, by failing to insist upon a minimal integration—including European style respect for freely chosen and consensual marriage—tolerates and thus supports this segregation, while certain Muslim parents, who reject these minimum cultural and legal standards, practice a deliberate segregation the ultimate goal of which is imposition of Islamic law.