A video released by the women’s branch of extreme Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia, in which two women discuss the Islamic teachings that describe ‘permitted’ ways husbands can hit their wives, has angered high profile experts.
Channel 9 journalist Ben Fordham this morning passionately condemned the “so-called” Muslim leaders that permit men to commit domestic violence.
“When you have people in positions of power spreading dangerous messages it is important to call them out,” he said on Today.
“It’s never OK to hit your wife. Never. That’s called assault.”
In the clip, first reported by The Australian, panellist Atika Latifi says that according to the Quran, a husband is “permitted, not obliged to, not encouraged, but permitted to hit [his spouse]."
Latifi then outlines that scholarly interpretations of the text - which she described as a "beautiful blessing" - suggest that "striking should be done in such a way that it should not cause harm or pain", for example with a "small stick" or "coiled scarf".
Fordham noted that the views are not held by all members of the Muslim faith, but argued it's important not to downplay the seriousness of what is unquestionably violent behaviour.
"It’s not OK to hit your wife gently, or softly, or occasionally or any other way you want to spin it,” he said.
“Stop it. Just stop. We have young Muslim women growing up in this country and they need to know they have the same rights as anyone else.
“They live in Australia, and that means they can wear what they want, they can marry who they want to marry, and they can do what they want to do. They don’t need these so-called leaders telling them they’re punching bags.”
Sarah Ferguson and Andrew a former abuser talk about Domestic Violence in Australia. Post continues...
Fordham joined a chorus of high-profile Australians criticising the video, including CEO of White Ribbon Australia, Libby Davies.
“This video is abhorrent, it is not in keeping with the fundamental right of every woman to live free from violence and abuse,” she told Mamamia.
“Respectful relationships regardless of culture are built on mutual respect and it is never okay to use violence in any relationship.”
Davies added that the use of violence about exercising power and control, and positions women as objects.
“It is an abuse of their fundamental right to be treated with equality and respect. Most men recognise this and more are speaking out and acting to stop domestic and family violence across our diverse community," she said.
“It is up to all men, together with women, to stand up, speak out and act to build a society based on respect, fairness and equality.”
Politicians on both sides of federal parliament have also expressed their condemnation of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia clip.
Minister for Women Michaelia Cash tweeted, "Domestic violence is abuse, plain and simple," she wrote, "not 'a beautiful blessing'.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek echoed the sentiment, tweeting, "Violence and control – never okay. No excuses. Always a crime."
The comments follow those by Muslim community leader Keysar Trad in February, in which he referred to domestic violence as "a last resort" in conflict resolution between Muslim couples.
Responding to the resulting backlash at the time, Mr Trad, who is President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, told Mamamia, that "Islam does not condone violence against women."
“What I tried to elaborate, even though I unfortunately used the words ‘last resort’, it’s not a resort that you’re ever meant to get to," he said.
"What the verse is trying to get you to do is [encourage men] to calm down and not get violent, and talk the issues out."
The verse in question, 4:34, is commonly translated as, "But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them."
Watch the full video below.