Women's leaders sue Spanish imam for explaining how to beat your wife

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Spanish women's organisations yesterday presented a lawsuit against one of the country's most senior Muslim leaders, accusing him of inciting violence against women by issuing instructions on wife-beating.

Spanish women's organisations yesterday presented a lawsuit against one of the country's most senior Muslim leaders, accusing him of inciting violence against women by issuing instructions on wife-beating.

Mohammad Kemal Mustafa, who as Imam of Fuengirola is head of one of the country's biggest Muslim communities, has aroused furious criticism by writing a book that describes how to beat a woman without leaving tell-tale marks. He recommends Muslim husbands use a rod that is fine and light, "so as not to leave scars or bruises on the body".

Spain's Federation of Separated and Divorced Women, which brought the suit to court in Barcelona, says that the book, Women and Islam, incites violence and discrimination against women, and thus contravenes article 510 of the Spanish penal code.

"That article expressly states that advocating violence or discrimination on grounds of sex or family situation is a punishable offence," the federation's lawyer, Maria Jose Varela, said yesterday. "We regard this as a very grave matter." Anyone found guilty could be jailed for up to three years, Ms Varela said.

The book says: "Blows must be administered upon specific parts of the body such as feet and hands, using a rod that his not too thick, that is, fine and light so that it does not leave scars or bruises on the body."

The federation, which represents about 80 organisations, argues that this advice is a clear abuse of the rights of women who live with Muslim men. They have demanded that the book, which was written in Arabic and translated into Spanish, be instantly withdrawn from sale.

However, the row has served to increase sales of the imam's 120-page paperback, which is intended to give advice to Muslims living outside their homeland. In one chapter, on "abuse", the author asks whether a husband has the right to beat his wife. Words are the best way to subdue a rebellious spouse, he reckons. But if that fails, "leave her alone in bed."

He says that beating is a last resort, and should be carried out within strict guidelines. Apart from stipulating the size of weapon and where to aim, the imam specifies further "limitations when resorting to physical punishment".

These include never hitting a woman in extreme or blind anger, to avoid causing serious harm; avoiding the sensitive parts of the body such as the face, the breasts or the stomach; and avoiding heavy blows, because the aim of the beating a woman is to inflict psychological suffering without causing too much humiliation or physical abuse.

Comments