When I saw this as the biggest headline on the BBC news site, I couldn’t help but slap my head in disappointment at the absurdity of such a statement. I mean at least the Pope didn’t use silly analogies. Maybe Hilali should’ve quoted someone else saying it. In any case I have to say that as a Muslim I think it’s brilliant that we have a sheikh that can compare women to meat in a world that feels Islam is already oppressive to woman. Maybe it’s more than just water that spins counter-clockwise in Australia.
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali said women who did not wear a hijab (head dress) were like “uncovered meat”. But he has now apologised for any offence caused by his comments, The Australian newspaper reports. Leading Muslim women condemned the comments and PM John Howard said the remarks were “appalling”.
“The idea that women are to blame for rapes is preposterous,” Mr Howard told reporters.
“I unreservedly apologise to any woman who is offended by my comments,” Sheikh Hilali said in a statement on Thursday. “I had only intended to protect women’s honour, something lost in The Australian presentation of my talk.”
A spokesman for Sheikh Hilali earlier said the quote had been taken out of context and referred not to sexual assault, but to sexual infidelity. The sermon was targeted against men and women who engaged in extra-marital sex and did so through alluring types of clothes, he said.
Sheikh Hilali’s critics have previously accused him of praising suicide bombers and claiming the attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001 were “God’s work against oppressors”. The cleric’s latest comments came in a sermon delivered to some 500 worshippers in Sydney last month.
“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside… and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat?” he asked.
The uncovered meat is the problem, he went on to say. “If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred,” he added. Sheikh Hilali also condemned women who swayed suggestively and wore make-up, implying they attracted sexual assault. “Then you get a judge without mercy… and gives you 65 years,” he added.