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Although the term "Trouble Maker", recently attributed to me by Hamza Tzortzis, was not meant as a compliment I cannot help but take it was one. I certainly do take pride in causing trouble against an organisation that has members who promote sex with nine year old brides and beating one's wife. If these are the genuine held views of these people then they certainly should be exposed, on the other hand if this is no more than a misunderstanding or those people's views have changed then it is vital that this prominently stated so as many people as possible are aware of the truth of the situation.
Here is a transcription of the post Hamza addressed to me on Twitter on December 17th 2013.
He claims that his recent behaviour is to get iERA to retract statements that it has made.
However, he is deliberately ignoring the facts. Here is a breakdown:
On Domestic Violence - Abdur Raheem Green made some statement, that have been recently taken out of context, BEFORE iERA were formed. Green has also clarified his statements publicly.
Hamza Andreas Tzortzis who is a researcher and lecturer for iERA officially supports Nour-DV an anti-domestic violence Muslim group. He has even give a talk for them as an official iERA member http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o1pYFHJqRc4. The official iERA stance is to support groups fighting domestic violence and abuse.
On Under Age Marriage - iERA have made their position clear publicly on this issue. See here http://www.iera.org.uk/press_9oct2013.html.
Also Hamza Andreas Tzortis has been deliberately misunderstood concerning his views. He has publicly condemned all forms of child and underage marriage. See here for example https://mobile.twitter.com/HATzortzis/status/409676801360019456 and https://mobile.twitter.com/HATzortzis/status/387505707387736064, where he said: "@TheRationaliser I'm against ALL child marriage..." This includes ALL 9 year olds, and he publicly condemned child marriage practices that happen in Yemen.
In light of the above. The Rationaliser must be responsible in the way he talks about others, or he will never be take [sic] seriously by the entire community.My accusations against iERA and/or its board members are as follows
- At an official iERA event in Australia Hamza Tzortzis condoned criteria which, in his own words "All these kind of principles we apply, and it happened that there's an outlier in the statistics that a nine year old [met the requirements for having sex]". See video footage here (at 1min 37s).
- Abduraheem Green, now an iERA director, condoned men being able to "apply some type of physical force. This is a type of very light beating" on their wives. See video footage here (at 5m 33s).
- During the 2011 Somalian famine iERA director Yusuf Chambers described saving Somalian's lives as saving nothing more than "just sticky clay" and encouraged viewers instead to donate money to iERA so that they can proselytise Islam to people in London. See video footage here (at 1 min 17s).
The explanations coming from iERA (Hamza Tzortzis to be more precise) most often involve the word "nuance". Indeed it is these nuances I would like to explicitly bring out so that they may be made completely unambiguous.
In the case of Yusuf Chambers I have not yet seen a statement clarifying his position except that he was taken out of context, which he was not. I will be most happy to see an official statement from iERA clearly stating that people with low income who cannot afford to save the lives of people during a famine and also fund iERA's proselytising aims should feed the starving.
In the case of Abduraheem Green it is said that his statement was taken out of context. The video to which I link is 6 minutes and 54 seconds in duration and completely unedited, I find it difficult to see how his statements were taken out of context. He says that a man has a God given right to give his wife a "very light beating|". This is based on a verse in the Quran, Sura 4 verse 34, which is what Mr Green was clarifying in his talk.
In relation to Mr Green's statements, Hamza Tzortzis says that iERA support organisations that fight against domestic violence, and for this I sincerely congratulate them. In error I said that iERA condone beating one's wife (my apologies), what I meant was that a man who is now a director iERA has condoned beating one's wife, and has explained the correct steps to follow in order to do it correctly. I personally consider someone applying a beating to their spouse, no matter how "very light", to be spousal abuse. However, not everyone will necessarily agree with me in thinking the type of beating condoned by Mr Green to be domestic abuse. For example, at 1m 57s Mr Green says
What is the problem, therefore, that Islam has given the head of the household some allowance to use a type of force in order to prevent his family from falling into evil
The "nuance" here is that if you are beating your wife to prevent something worse from happening to her, are you actually abusing your spouse? To use an example from Zakir Naik (not part of iERA), if you hit your wife to stop her from jumping to her death, is that wrong? This is why I specifically wrote "how to beat" rather than using the term "domestic abuse". In the video Mr Green condones the beating of one's wife in the circumstances where it is for her own good or the good of one's family, and on condition that the first two steps in Quran 4.34 have failed to be effective.
Not all Muslims agree with the statements made by Mr Green, in fact I have yet to personally meet one who does. I have heard arguments that people of the time were too willing to beat their wives so this verse was a poetic way of telling them not to; the idea being that by the time the first two steps have passed the couple will want to be divorced and so there is no need for the third step. Whether or not this is a valid argument is irrelevant at this point, if Mr Green has since changed his mind and now takes the opinion that the third step explained in the Quran is supposed to be a step that should not be exercised then I commend him. As the video linked is very prominent I would like to see an equally prominent video with Mr Green stating emphatically that one should not hit their spouse regardless of their disagreement. As a means to ensure this change of mind is not missed I will be more than happy to provide a link to this video whenever I see the old video mentioned, and would also be willing to publish it on my own youtube channel so that I can ensure as many people as possible see it.
In the case of Hamza Tzorzis, each time any attempt at a clarification is made it seems that some new nuance appears. Hamza initially said that Islamic law uses a criteria for determining whether or not it is permissible to have sex with one's wife, a criteria in which the age of the bride is irrelevant. The criteria was:
- Is she physically fit.
- Is she emotionally ready.
- Is she mentally ready.
- Is it socially acceptable.
Hamza used this criteria to explain why he thought it was acceptable for Muhammad aged fifty three to have sex with Aisha aged nine. Whether or not Aisha was nine at the time is not something all Muslims agree on and not something I have sufficiently researched in order to form a confident opinion on, nor is it relevant to the issue at hand as I don't think that we should retrofit twenty first century UK morality onto a seventh century society in Arabia. The issue at hand is whether or not it should now be permissible for someone to have sex with their nine year old bride.
When I pressed Hamza on this he stated that he is opposed to child marriages. Again I deliberately used the term "9 year old bride" in order to avoid socially subjective terms such as "child" or "woman". If according to your views a nine year old is an adult as soon as she meets the above criteria then saying you condemn child marriages is a nuance which needs to be made clear, otherwise it would be perfectly valid to hold the view that sex with a nine year old child is wrong, but sex with a nine year old woman is legitimate.
In addition to this Hamza has said that he is opposed to under-age sex. Again here there is a nuance which needs to be made explicit. I have not accused Hamza of promoting the idea that people in the UK should be having sex with females under the legal of of consent (sixteen), I have accused him of condoning sex with a nine year old female to whom one is married. The overriding legal jurisdiction of one's residence is not the important factor here. The important thing is that Hamza believes Islamic law to be the most superior, so does he think that in country operating within legitimate Islamic law it should it ever be legal for a nine year old female to be married and to have sex?
During his debate in Australia, Hamza explicitly condemned the case of a girl named "Rawan" who was allegedly married in Yemen at the age of eight to a forty year old man and died as a consequence of damaged caused during the sexual consummation of her marriage (story here). Hamza has since repeated his condemnation of the marriage practices of Yemen. However, during the debate Hamza stated that the marriage was un-Islamic because harm was caused to the bride and so she was clearly still a child, so this is not the kind of case I am asking Hamza to clarify his position on.
In his above statement Hamza says that his opposition to child marriages "includes ALL 9 year olds", which is certainly a big step towards clarity on the subject. Of course the above nuances (caveats) must also be addressed before this statement can be taken to absolutely mean what it seems to mean, and hopefully does mean.
Having shared a scientific paper about premature infant care which revealed that using twenty first century medical equipment/techniques in a first world country (USA) which showed that a ten year old female is one and a half times more likely to experience a miscarriage than a fifteen year old, and twice as likely as a twenty year old (see paper here), Hamza agreed with the statistics and their consequences.
I must make clear that if Muhammad did marry Aisha at the age of nine and consummate that marriage with her, and did so at the instruction of a supremely powerful entity which gets to decide who experiences miscarriages and who does not then this research is irrelevant to that individual case, and so that is not my point of mentioning this research. My reason for mentioning it is that it provides objective evidence to support the argument that sex with nine year old females is detrimental even with twenty first century medical technology.
Will Hamza join me and unequivocally condemn sex with any nine year old female under any system of legal jurisprudence, whether present, future, or "ideal"?