British government needs to respect its own women before preaching to Muslim world

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The British Council, the long-standing cultural arm of the colonial British government organised a 4 day conference in the UK in late November to address women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa. Opinion and decision-makers from across the region were invited to listen to lectures regarding how best to embed women’s rights in new constitutions of those states where uprisings have taken place. The British Council, active in the Muslim world since the 1930’s, is sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the UK government, with some initiatives even being funded by the Ministry of Defence. The institution was constructed by the British civil servant Sir Reginald Leeper as a tool for ‘cultural propaganda’ to promote Western secular liberal values globally and secure British interests across the world. British governments past and present have continued to use it as such. On November 24th, the UK Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone who is also Minister for tackling violence against women globally added to discussions on women’s welfare in the Muslim world by commenting that the UK government would withdraw aid from any country that did not respect women’s rights, and insisted delusionally that the British government was “doing astonishing work in putting women at the heart of development work overseas.”

Dr. Nazreen Nawaz, Women’s Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain commented, “It beggars belief that the British government and its institutions see fit to preach to the Muslim world how to look after the wellbeing of its women while they struggle with epidemic levels of violence, harassment, and exploitation of women in their own backyard and give license to their sexual objectification. While Britain grapples with shocking statistics of abuse against women – 1 in 4 facing domestic violence, 2 killed each week at the hand of their partner, over 50% having faced sexual harassment at work, 1000 women subjected to rape or attempted rape every week, and an ever growing culture of sexualisation and sexual exploitation of young girls – one wonders what exact lessons in women’s rights the Muslim world can ever learn from the liberal values and culture espoused by the British Council and its sponsor. The UK government needs to take a close hard look in the mirror at the fall-out of its own secular liberal system that promotes the ‘freedom’ of men to view and treat women as their desires dictate before assuming the right to be a torch-bearer for women’s rights internationally.”

“One wonders whether the ‘astonishing development work’ in aiding the state of women overseas as described by Ms. Featherstone includes the quagmire of lawlessness and violence that continues to afflict the daily lives of millions of Afghan women 10 years post-occupation! With this abysmal legacy in hand, is the FCO now seeking to export such an appalling failure in securing the rights of women to other Muslim lands? Furthermore, ‘astonishing hypocrisy’ would be a more apt description for a government that frequently espouses women’s rights while simultaneously cosies up to autocratic regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain who brutally repress their women – for the sake of national interests!”

“Women in the Muslim world are in no need of advice in how to secure their rights from Western institutions that facilitate the cultural colonisation and subjugation of their lands by foreign governments. Nor do they need blood-stained aid from Western governments that has for decades been used to prop up brutal dictatorships in the region who secure the interests of foreign powers and corporations rather than the needs of their people.”

“Shaping a brighter future for the women of the Arab and Muslim world requires a severing of cultural imperialism and cultural dependence on the West as much as uprooting of political and economic imperialism. The secular liberal system has failed women in the West and it has nothing to offer women in the new Arab world. Adopting it is a recipe for disaster.”

“Improving the status and rights of women in the region requires more than simply embedding women’s rights in new constitutions. It necessitates an ideology and system that not only ensures women have access to political, economic, and educational rights but also ensures that the view of the woman’s dignity as priceless is established within society. It is this which is the primary barrier to abuse and the stripping away of rights. The Khilafah state built upon the Islamic belief, values, and laws that prohibit men from viewing women as they desire or acting upon their ‘freedom’ offers this very system. It is a system that has a rich heritage and a legacy spanning centuries of successfully securing the respect and rights of women. We therefore call women of the Arab and Muslim world to give their support to the establishment of this state that will not betray the huge sacrifices that they have made to create a better future for their lives and their lands.”

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