Dear Ms Wadley,
Re: How I Escaped A Brutal Honour Killing, Evening Standard, Monday 28th June 2004
The above feature article written by David Cohen in today's edition of the Evening Standard contained quite a number of major inaccuracies that we believe will only serve to reinforce some very negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims.
a) The introduction to the article stated:
�a young wife risks her life to reveal the brutality inflicted upon women who dare to challenge their husbands and the law of Islam�
What laws of Islam were being challenged by these women? Mr Cohen does not provide the answer to this. This misleading introduction gives the impression that it is the Islamic faith itself � rather than violent misbehaviour by men who happened to be Muslim � that is responsible for the suffering inflicted on the women mentioned in the article.
b) �Unlike some Islamic women, who seek divorce from their forced marriages, Tara escaped, and moreover, lives to tell the tale.�
Could the writer not have added a paragraph to clarify that forced marriages are regarded as unIslamic by mainstream Muslim scholars who insist that the man and woman concerned must each individually grant their consent to their marriage?
If consent is withheld then these �marriages� are regarded as null and void under Islamic law.
c) �Last week, acknowledging the scale of the problem for the first time, Scotland Yard announced that it is to re-examine the files of 117 murders - of which 52 took place in the London area - that are believed to be 'honour killings'.�
Could David Cohen not have clarified that these 117 murders were of people from the Christian, Sikh and Hindu faiths - as well as Islam? Or would that have perhaps have detracted from the presumed objective of the article � to defame and denigrate the Islamic faith?
d) �'Even my mother she said I must respect my husband and accept what he wants me to do because that is Sharia law.�
This sentence comes immediately after a paragraph describing how �Tara� had been stabbed by her husband in the leg with a steak knife. The writer of the article surely has a duty to ensure that this gross misrepresentation of Islamic teachings is not left unchallenged � but again, no clarification is provided.
The clear implication left by David Cohen in the minds of your readers is that a husband is allowed to stab his wife with a knife under Islamic law. This is preposterous and wholly unacceptable.
e) �Sawsan warned the police that under Sharia law, a married man can have sex with whomever he pleases�
This is a terrible misrepresentation of Islamic teachings. If Muslim men commit adultery or fornication then they are subject to very severe penalties under Islamic law. Your feature writer David Cohen seems to be deliberately trying to mislead your readers.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have written to you about Mr Cohen. A couple of months ago, he also wrote a very sensationalist and evidently alarmist article about members of tiny fringe group al-Muhajiroun in Luton.
We would hope that the Evening Standard would have adopted policies to ensure that its pages were not used to incite hatred of the Islamic faith.
The Muslim Council of Britain