Harry’s place - Guest Post, October 26th 2010, 12:00 pm
This is a guest post by Akash
The senior cleric of Britain’s main Islamic sharia court has sparked outrage by claiming that non-consensual sex in marriage cannot be called rape and is, therefore, not a criminal offence. In an interview with the Samosa blog, Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, speaking as the head of the Islamic Sharia Council, said:
“Clearly there cannot be any rape within the marriage. Maybe aggression, maybe indecent activity… Because when they got married, the understanding was that sexual intercourse was part of the marriage, so there cannot be anything against sex in marriage. Of course, if it happened without her desire, that is no good, that is not desirable.”
British law was changed in 1991, making rape within marriage illegal but this is a detail which the head of the Islamic Sharia Council dismisses as an “aggression” against the man.
Abu Sayeed considers it “not Islamic” to classify non-consensual marital sex as rape and prosecute offenders. In an astonishing exchange with the Samosa journalist, Sayeed revealed why he believes the prosecution of marital rape was due to misguided Western values, such as equality and justice:
“Why it is happening in this society is because they have got this idea of so-called equality, equal rights. And they are misusing these equal rights in every single aspect of human conduct. That’s why. It is one aggression against another, and that is bigger aggression against minor one.”
I asked Sheikh Sayeed what he considered to be the “bigger aggression”.
“To call it rape. Rape is a criminal offence in this country; man will end up in prison for three, five years or more.”
So the non-consensual sex is the minor aggression, and calling it rape is the major aggression?
Why is calling it rape a major aggression?
“Because within the marriage contract it is inherent there that man will have sexual intercourse with his wife. Of course, if he does something against her wish or in a bad time etc, then he is not fulfilling the etiquettes, not that he is breaching any code of sharia – he is not coming to that point. He may be disciplined, and he may be made to ask forgiveness. That should be enough.”
It is deplorable that the head of the main Islamic Sharia court should maintain a position completely at odds with British law and to claim that the majority of women who say they have been raped or violently abused by their husbands are merely fabricating their stories to “expedite” divorce proceedings.
But Imam Abu Sayeed has a sordid and viciously violent past which few people in Britain know anything about.
In 1995, Channel4 aired a Dispatches documentary called ‘War Crimes File’ which exposed Abu Sayeed as one of three war criminals who had fled Bangladesh to live in Britain. Sayeed was then a “head teacher of a Muslim school and a co-opted member of Tower Hamlets Education Council” but the documentary revealed that he was a senior member of the Al-Badr death squad, a paramilitary offshoot of the Jamaat-e-Islam, which was responsible for the death of thousands of men and the systematic rape of untold more women during the Independence War of Bangladesh in 1971.
Soon after the documentary was broadcast, it was quickly banned in the UK and remains so to this day, thanks to the litigious hair-trigger of Choudhury Mueen-Uddin, senior trustee of Muslim Aid, who, along with Sayeed, was exposed in the documentary as one of the three war criminals.
Fortunately the internet is still the bane of censors, because the documentary footage can be found in its entirety on the superbBangladesh Genocide Archive.
As a young man, Sayeed was involved with the Islami Chattro Shangyo – the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islam. The Jamaat was then, as it is today, an extremist group of Muslim fundamentalists. In July 1971, the Jamaat-e-Islam organised a secret meeting in Dhaka, the purpose of which was to form the Al-Badr death squad, a violent jihad force created to aid the Pakistan army. Jamaat wanted to remain a part of the Islamic state of Pakistan and was violently opposed to the Independence movement. And in his home town of Sylhet, Abu Sayeed was recruited as a senior member of the Al-Badr.
Abu Sayeed’s role in the brutal Al Badr death squad is confirmed in the War Crimes File documentary by numerous eye-witness accounts and first-hand sources.
In August 1971, Al-Badr sent Sayeed to Dhaka for training in both military and intelligence gathering techniques. He then returned home to Sylhet where he was involved with secret meetings with the Jamaat-e-Islami leaders. His task was to draw up killing lists of people suspected of involvement in the liberation movement. The names were then handed to the Pakistan army who, with the help of local collaborators, would execute them.
In addition to preparing hit lists, the Jamaat and Al-Badr were also involved with organising mass rape and abducting women for Pakistani soldiers.
Here in Britain, Abu Sayeed has recreated himself into a respectable Muslim cleric, helped along the way by well-placed puff pieces in the media. The UCL Hospital newsletter ran a short vignette on him under ‘A Day in the Life of Maulana Abu Sayeed’:
When the trust’s Muslim Chaplain Imam Abu Sayeed left Bangladesh he arrived with a heavy heart. “I cherish my home and its people. I intended to stay a couple of years and then go back,” he says. Thirty years and four children on, he’s still here and doing the rounds at UCLH wherever he is needed. themselves physically before spiritually cleansing themselves within, which their faith requires.
And from another syrupy piece in the Guardian:
“In the council’s backroom, however, surrounded by gold-embossed tomes of Islamic jurisprudence and brown cardboard boxes, Sayeed puts his hand on his chest with pride as he explains what his work means to him. “I feel I could at last do some real good thing in the practical life of people,” he says. “I am not doing it for any financial gain in this world; I am doing it for immense reward from the Lord Almighty in the hereafter, so it fills my heart with all these riches”.
Abu Sayeed has very successfully laundered his personal history of the last 39 years. After all, he is now “Sheikh Sayeed”, an ex-headmaster as well the Muslim “chaplain” at UCL Hospital and the head of Islamic Sharia Council of Britain. However his subversion of British law in support of marital rape comes as no surprise to those who know the man’s history and background.