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You may recall that back in 2007, the series Dispatches, produced by Britain’s Channel 4, sent reporters into several mosques in that country with hidden cameras and microphones. The result was a program entitled Undercover Mosque, which – for those who didn’t already suspect that fishy stuff was going on behind those walls – was mind-blowing, confirming pretty much every claim made by the critics of Islam that had been furiously rejected by imams as sheer Islamophobia. Among other things, Channel 4 caught preachers on videotape rejecting Western law and integration into Western society; asserting the intellectual inferiority of women and the acceptability of marrying pre-pubescent girls; and calling for the murder of Jews, Hindus, gays, Muslim apostates, and British soldiers.
If you remember that program, you may also remember what happened afterwards. The British police investigated the mosques, but decided they didn’t have enough evidence to charge them with anything. At which point the cops did a 180 and reported Channel 4 to Ofcom, the UK’s answer to the FCC, for allegedly editing its footage in such a way as to misrepresent the preachers’ views. The good news is that Ofcom eventually rejected the charges; the bad news is that, once again, the critics of Islam became the heavies, the Muslims the victims. And despite Undercover Mosque‘s explosive revelations, nothing much changed as a result of them.
Now, to its credit, and to the astonishment of many, Swedish television has done its own version of Undercover Mosque. The 60 Minutes-style series Uppdrag: Granskning (Assignment: Investigation) sent two women in burkas into ten Swedish mosques. One of them carried a hidden camera; the other pretended to be a woman whose abusive husband had taken a second wife and who wanted to know the answers to these questions:
- Is a man permitted to marry more than one woman?
- Is a woman permitted to deny her husband sex?
- Is a man permitted to hit his wife?
- If so, is she permitted to call the police?
Again, for those who have been following these matters for years in North America and Europe, the results of this investigation will not come as much of a surprise. But in Sweden, where the media try their best never to approach these matters in a remotely honest way, this episode of Uppdrag: Granskning provided a rare taste of media candor.
One of the ten mosques was the Stockholm Mosque, the most prominent Muslim house of worship in Sweden. An official at the mosque, Mahmod Adam, told his burka-clad interlocutor that it’s perfectly acceptable under the Koran for a man to take four wives, so long as he can support them and treat them equally. “Understand?” he asked. “Yes,” she replied meekly. In response to which he told her, sharply, “You’re supposed to listen!” – in other words, “Shut up!”
The faux wife went on to tell Adam that her husband hits her if she so much as opens her mouth – and that he cites the Koran in his defense. Adam replied that her husband is allowed to smack her on the arm – and that under no circumstances, in any case, should she call the police on him. His final advice: to show her husband more affection.
Elsewhere the advice was similar. At the Örebro Mosque, Abdur Kadir Salad told the woman not to call the police because she’d end up getting a divorce and breaking up her family – and Muslims don’t want that, for Islam is about building families, not breaking them up. At the Islamic Center in Malmö, same advice: no police, because “they can take your kids.” At another Malmö mosque, the message was unambiguous: “Never, never consider calling the police.” Even if he hits her twenty or thirty times? Smacking himself on the arm, the imam said forcefully: “This is not hitting!”
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