- The Washington Times - Friday, October 27, 2006

We hope that every member of free society pays attention to this week’s row in Australia over Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali. He provoked a justifiable firestorm of criticism from Australian Prime Minister John Howard on down when he suggested that unveiled women are to blame for rape and sexual assault.

They attract sexual predators — like “uncovered meat” attracts animals, the cleric said — and if “the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.” All free peoples should blast this man with one voice.

This cleric doesn’t understand that free societies protect their citizens’ right not to be raped or assaulted for showing their faces, legs or arms. No wonder Australians are calling for his deportation.

We especially hope feminists and moderate Muslims in the United States are paying attention. This amounts to a direct assault upon both groups. It targets feminists because it’s premised upon the retrograde notion that “she had it coming” is an acceptable response to rape. We all need to speak with one voice against this, telling the cleric: In free society, women are free to dress as they wish without some segment thinking that they are to be held responsible if some uncivilized predator commits heinous crimes.

This also directly targets moderate Muslims. A cleric of such senior stature is widely presumed to speak for his community — or at least for a large portion of it. Moderate Muslims need to speak out, saying, “He doesn’t represent us.”

Praiseworthy responses are emerging in Australia, where a broad spectrum is condemning the sheik. “They are appalling and reprehensible comments,” the prime minister said. “The idea that women are to blame for rapes is preposterous.” The Islamic Council of New South Wales called the remarks “un-Islamic, un-Australian and unacceptable.”

Here’s Australian Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward: “He could be guilty of incitement to the crime of rape and should be deported.” Said Iktimal Hage-Ali, a Muslim-affairs adviser to the prime minister: “The onus should not be on the female to not attract attention. It should be on males to learn how to control themselves.” Labor leader Kim Beazley demanded a retraction. Said the victims of an infamous Sydney gang rape in 2000: “You are a sad person who has no understanding of what really happens when these people inflict harm and degrading acts upon me or any other young girl.”

This is a case where the members of free society can rise up together to condemn a viewpoint which doesn’t comport with our freedoms.

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