Sunday 30 July 2011
A Response to Archbishop Oswald Gomis
Hameed Abdul Karim
It was rather distressing to read Archbishop Emeritus Oswald Gomis’s remarks about ‘militant Islam causing worldwide chaos and at times making slaves of their female followers to their men folk’. (Lakbimanews Sunday July 17, 2011)
The learned Archbishop must ask the question why Islam has become militant before passing judgment on the faith and its followers. For one thing he must realise the cause of militancy in Islam especially in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Xinjiang Province, Chechnya and Mindanao is especially because these places are occupied by foreign forces. I am sure, the good man that he is, he will acknowledge that when Sri Lanka was under colonial occupation, Sri Lankans too were militant as were the Indians like Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohandas Gandhi apart from many others. Gandhi’s militancy was of a different kind though, but it still led to bloodshed. And the British did not fail to call them names like ‘militants’ or ‘terrorists’. The arrogant imperialist and supreme racist, Winston Churchill used to call Gandhi a ‘half naked fakir’. No Hindu or Muslim attributed Churchill’s arrogance and bigotry to his Anglican faith, though he had said many despicable things about Islam.
As for the ‘female followers’ of Islam being slaves to ‘their men folk’, I am afraid the good Archbishop has got this wrong. I believe his only source of information is the Western media. If he were to just check up from women’s organisations in Sri Lanka, he will find there are hardly any Muslim men who beat their wives. I do not want their faiths of those non-Muslim men, because that would be maligning their religions for their wrong doing, just as much as it would be wrong to blame Catholicism for the Catholic priests who have abused choir boys.
As for women being ‘slaves to their men folk’ just a cursory glance of TV and print media will tell him that amongst those who were in the forefront of protests in Egypt, Syrian, Tunisia, Yemen and now Syria were women – Muslim women. In fact in Yemen the person who started the revolution was a young Muslim girl and there were men seen on TV queuing up to show their solidarity with her. Yemen’s autocrat was backed by the US and Britain. Does this mean Muslims must go round accusing Christianity of killing Muslims?
It is certainly true that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. But this is due to cultural practices and not Islam. Muslim women all over the Arab world do drive, though I must confess I get religious when my wife takes the wheel sometimes!
I am of the Muslim faith and many of my co-religionists and I supported the cause of the East Timorese when they revolted against Suharto’s oppression. Mind you there were Catholics and Christians of other denominations in the West who were with Suharto, largely because he was backed in his oppression by the ‘born again’ President Ronald Reagan and the war criminal Henry Kissinger.
Appeared in the Lakbima News Sunday 30 July 2011