As part of the symposium “Honour Killings and Emancipation” from the Post-Graduate Seminar “Perception of Gender Differences within Religious Symbol-Systems”, Julius-Maximillian-University, Wuerzburg, 19.01.2006.
The public debate over women’s role in Islam tends in the West to centre round the issue of the head-scarf, seen as symbolizing women’s inferiority, yet not all practising Muslim women wear the scarf and not all of them are of the opinion that this is undispensable. In fact it is Islamic marriage law which cements women’s inferior legal status as divinely ordained.
The events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent reactions have moved the Islamic faith – and especially Islamic extremism into the public limelight and made it an on-going topic of discussion. While the opinions of politically active Muslims (Islamists) or extremists have increasingly become media topics, liberal Muslims are presented in much less detail. Islamic feminism may be considered one form of liberal Islam. It is characterized by the following aspects:
When Islam is the subject, the topic „Women in Islam“ is also frequently discussed. This is not merely the result of controversial books on Islam (like Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses) or of the problems associated with a “parallel society”, or of the visible external differences between Muslim and non-Muslim women. The reports from human rights organizations on the situation of women in Islamic countries and the autobiographical accounts of Muslim women also fuel the debate about the acculturation of Muslim women in Western culture, under the rubric of “Women’s Rights in Islam“, for example.
Honor killings take place today not only in the eastern part of Turkey. In Germany, too, and in the other countries of Europe, women die “for reasons of honor”. Till now, German criminal investigative departments do not compile any separate statistics, but unofficial statistics quote at least 49 honor killings or attempts at such in Germany between 1996 and 2005. The United Nations estimate that ca. 5000 honor killings (along with a high number of unreported cases) have been committed world-wide.
The frequent human rights abuses which take place in nearly all countries of the Muslim world are often the result of corrupt or dictatorial regimes and not necessarily due to either Islam or these countries’ view of human rights. Less widely known, however, is that international associations in Muslim countries have formulated their own human rights declarations in opposition to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the Plenary session of the United Nations in 1948.