Anti-dhimmitude in Italy. “Veils gag falls flat: An imam’s ‘death threat’ to an Italian MP has not stopped her speaking out on Islam and feminism,” by John Hooper in The Guardian, with thanks to Mackie:
Britain and Australia are not the only countries where debate is raging over the Islamic veil. In Italy, the issue burst into the news this week after the interior ministry ordered round-the-clock police protection for an MP, believing she had been threatened for expressing her views on the subject.
Daniela Santanche, an MP for the formerly neo-fascist National Alliance, clashed in a TV chat show with the imam of a mosque near Milan. After Ms Santanche insisted that the Qur’an did not call for women to wear a veil, the other guest, Ali Abu Shwaima, angrily replied: “I am an imam and I will not permit those who are ignorant to speak of Islam. You are ignorant of Islam and do not have the right to interpret the Qur’an.”
Ali Abu Shwaima’s charge is interesting. In the U.S. those who speak about the roots of the jihad ideology in the Qur’an and Sunnah are routinely called “ignorant” by Islamic apologists. Yet here Santanche is asserting that a more moderate view on veiling is supported by the Qur’an, and she is called “ignorant” by a hardline Muslim. So in the U.S. we are ignorant if we say Islam is radical, and in Italy we are ignorant if we say Islam is moderate. This is perhaps a measure of the relative strength and assertiveness of the Muslim communities in these two countries.
The ministry said it had been advised that the words used by the imam might amount to a coded death sentence – which the imam has vigorously denied.
At all events, his admonition has done nothing to silence Ms Santanche. A few days later she returned to the attack, comparing the veil to the yellow Star of David the Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis.
Her words have so far had two results. The first has been a debate among Muslims themselves. One imam has gone so far as to argue that the niqab, which leaves only the eyes visible, is obligatory for Muslim women. Not so, said the president of the Muslim Assembly of Italy, Abdul Hadi Massimo Palazzi: “The veil is a tradition that spread at a late stage among Muslims”.
The other has been discussion of the position to be taken by non-Muslim Italian women. “Muslim males want to show that their women are submissive. They want to assert their macho, autocratic culture,” Ms Santanche said this week. “I’m not worried by the threats. What worries me is the deafening silence of feminists.”