WE haven’t heard the last of this call by Muslim leaders for the right to polygamy.
After all, how can a society that’s moving to give a man the right to marry another man then refuse a man the right to marry two women?
Give way on gay marriage, you must give way on polygamy. In both cases it’s about consenting adults, right?
So I couldn’t blame the sheiks who thought it was time this week to demand we change our laws to make polygamy legal.
Sheik Khalil Chami, of the Islamic Welfare Centre in Lakemba, said we already had Muslims in polygamous marriages here, and should protect them with legal status.
These weren’t just polygamists who had somehow slipped through immigration checks, either: “There are a lot of sheiks here . . . (who) conduct that marriage no problem at all.”
Chami soon had backers. Sheik Isse Musse of Werribee mosque said Melbourne had some 20 polygamous families from Africa, mainly Somalis and mainly refugees. The second wives deserved to have their marriages recognised so they weren’t seen as having sex outside wedlock but, alas, “the Australian law is unfortunate”.
Keysar Trad, translator for the former mufti of Australia and head of the Islamic Friendship Society, agreed, saying he’d even proposed to a second wife. And the current Mufti, Sheik Fehmi Naji el-Imam, said this was an issue for the Australian National Council of Imams to discuss.
And relax, crooned Yasser Soliman, one of the Muslim advisers handpicked by then prime minister John Howard: “I don’t think it should be discussed in terms of any threat to the Australian way of life.”
Except, of course, that it is.
It’s not just a threat in the obvious way, being a challenge to the way we regard women in this country.
Women have slowly, painfully won the right to be considered equal to men in status and freedoms. Do we betray that ideal now by approving a form of union in which women are inevitably subservient?
It’s no coincidence, after all, that these sheiks are utterly against giving women the equal right in turn to several husbands. And you need only hear Trad argue for polygamy to suspect they feel a woman’s place is under a man, literally.
Trad this week said he’d proposed to a second woman because he’d fallen in love and thought it sinful to commit adultery. His wife, Hanifa, said she’d approved, because it would mean “having (sex) in the right way instead of having it like go to a prostitute . . .”
A second wife as a prostitute substitute? How could any woman resist such a sweet offer? No wonder Trad’s proposal was turned down….
Read it all.