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The Queen’s New Clothes By: Hege Storhaug
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, June 02, 2009

On May 25 Queen Sonja of Norway visited the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) in Oslo. She entered the mosque wearing a shawl, and when she put out her hand to greet a male representative of the mosque he refused to shake it.  Was the Queen informed beforehand of the ICC’s ideological platform?  I strongly doubt that she was, since I consider the Queen a thoughtful and intelligent person.

What is the Islamic Cultural Center (ICC)?  ICC is directly linked to the Pakistani religio-political movement known as Jamaat-i-islami; its founder, Abu Ala Maududi, is the foremost Islamist ideologue in Pakistani history, and thus ICC’s top ideologue.  Along with the extremist Said Qutb, Maududi was the leading ideologue in the last century for the world’s Sunni Islamists, and served as an inspiration for terrorist movements such as al-Qaida.

Exactly what Maududi stood for is easy to say, since he wrote a great deal.  His book Purdah and the Status of Women in Islam (1939) is considered a masterpiece in the literature of the degradation of the status of women.  In it one can read in detail about why a woman’s eyes are an “erogenous zone” that can lead to adultery.  Perfume too.   The same goes for her voice, which is “the devil’s agent.”  Also the sound of her heels.

It was thus no coincidence that Queen Sonja’s offer of a handshake was refused, as reported by Aftenposten, given that sexual segregation and the oppression of women are at the heart of Maududi’s and ICCs ideology.

“Islam is an all-encompassing ideology”: this is Maududi’s motto. A society is therefore not Islamized until all manifestations of life and all social and political institutions are run according to Islamic principles.  The ultimate dream is the worldwide caliphate.

Maududi got his big break under the dictator Zia ul-Haq. On his watch, Pakistan introduced the hadood laws, which, among much else, prescribe amputation for thieves and whipping and stoning for adultery. A woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s. These laws remain in force today, and have particularly dire consequences for Pakistan’s women.  A woman who reports a rape must come up with four honorable Muslim men to serve as witnesses to it.  If she can’t, she will herself be prosecuted for adultery – since she has herself, after all, admitted to having had extramarital sex.

Aftenposten revealed on January 11, 2004, that the ICC promotes polygamy.  In doing so, it is simply being true to the spirit of Maududi. In 2006 Human Rights Service, a think tank in Oslo for which I work as information officer, checked out ICC’s library and reported on our findings: not one book or magazine in its collection preached views contrary to those of Maududi.  Even after Aftenposten’s revelations, the pamphlet Polygamy in Islam, which offers an in-depth defense of men’s right to have up to four wives, was openly available at ICC.

In 2004 Jamaat-i-Islami’s leader, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, was allowed to enter Norway by the government of Kjell Magne Bondevik, even though such countries as the Netherlands and Belgium have refused to allow him to set foot on their territory because of his suspected close ties to al-Qaida. When he arrived at Oslo Airport, he was greeted enthusiastically by a sizable crowd of male Norwegian Pakistanis.  There is, in short, no doubt that the man is highly regarded by ICC.

One cannot expect the Queen to be familiar with these facts.  Still, I would have hoped that when the unfortunate decision was made for Her Majesty to visit ICC’s headquarters, she would not have worn a shawl.  It cannot easily be called an act of respect for a woman to wear an item of clothing whose sole purpose is to designate her sex’s inferior status.

Note, too, the royal palace’s own account of the Queen’s visit to the mosque.  The Islamic Cultural Center, it informs us, “works for understanding and cooperation between different religions and culture through dialogue and knowledge.”  Obviously, someone at the palace needs to recheck their facts.

Alas, most of the politicians and journalists in Norway, who should be well informed about such things, know no more about the ICC than the palace apparently does.  For years, Norwegian leaders have made similar pilgrimages to ICC and other mosques with totalitarian visions and have treated them as if they were harmless secular Christian congregations that respect human rights.  They have apparently had not the slightest awareness of what they were actually dealing with.

Before the last election, for example, Socialist Left politician Heikki Holmås (SV) made a campaign appearance at the Jamaat Mosque in Oslo.  This is a woman who would never have campaigned at, for example, a conservative evangelical church.  This is the pattern in Norway: our politicians, and others in positions of power, obviously believe that if they’re friendly to these people, the friendship will be returned, and the cause of social harmony will be advanced.  But the real result is precisely the opposite: by giving attention to officials at these mosques, one enhances their power, especially their power over their own members.  And by accepting the mosque as the Muslim community’s principal meeting place, the politicians send the message to Muslims that the latter are first and foremost religious beings.

A further absurdity is that the ICC and other totalitarian faith communities in Norway receive millions of kroner annually in government support.  Norwegian taxpayers’ money, in short, is funneled into the pockets of people who are fully engaged in a struggle against freedom and democratic values.  Indeed, as will be detailed in a forthcoming report from Human Rights Service, the Oslo think tank for which I work, a Somali mosque in Oslo which receives government funds is in turn providing financial support to Al-Shabab, the extreme Islamist militia group in Somalia.  This same mosque supports female genital mutilation and helps marry off congregants’ little girls as wife number two, three, or four to men old enough to be their grandfathers.

We have informed top Norwegian government officials about these facts in recent meetings.  Whether they will do anything about this grotesque state of affairs remains to be seen.  I am not holding my breath.   

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