This is a sad case of the sad road down which religion can lead people; whilst it numbs them to the fact that they are committing atrocities against loved ones of theirs.
Islam is notoriously close minded in that sense. I would start with the disclaimer that a lot of Muslim countries have outgrown that close mindedness, and certainly not all Muslims are the same. But even the best examples of liberalism you have in the Muslim world, such as Turkey or Indonesia, are not exactly as liberal as apologists would like you to think.
There are far too many Muslim regimes where women are treated as chattel, where you do not have rights in your husband’s home and would get into trouble for leaving the house without permission or a male escort. There are far too many where a woman gets into trouble for getting raped, where apostates and atheists have to live in fear, and where gay people can forget about having any kind of rights.
When a situation like the above happens in a country such as the UK, it puts to shame apologists like Reza Aslan and Grenn Greenwald, who like to pretend that religion never causes such issues and that any criticism of the doctrines of Islam amounts to Islamophobia.
The UK is a bastion of liberalism, so imagine what would happen in Iran, or Saudi Arabia, or Syria, or Nigeria. It should be enough to cement the fact that one needs to criticise bad ideas, and the actions they lead to. And currently, “Islam is the motherlode of bad ideas”, as Harris once famously said. It’s that idealistic aspiration towards Sharia, which is far from the best system of laws to govern humans.
A Muslim model in the UK, Nadia Menaz, was found hanged in her room in Oldham this past May. Menaz feared her parents would force her into an arranged marriage, despite she having already married without their approval.
At an inquest into her death, the court was told that “Ms Menaz had a ‘very strained’ relationship with her parents. She had also suffered depression, and had self harmed, as well as cutting off her hair.” Mail Online reports.
“The mother-of-one had already married husband Umar Rasool in an Islamic ceremony, but her family did not approve of him and the union was not recognised under English law.
“In December last year, Ms Menaz took out a forced marriage protection order at the Family Court in Manchester against her father Sabir Hussain, 60, her mother Ruksana Kousar, 55, and three of her eight siblings. According to government guidelines, the legislation protects women if they are being threatened with a forced marriage or are already within a forced marriage.”
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Her parents however, denied having tried to force their daughter into a marriage. They said they did not like her husband because he used to physically assault her, and initially claimed they did not know of the forced marriage protection order, before later admitting it.
But they also said they do not believe their daughter hanged herself but that she must have been killed.
Ms Menaz had been dealing with depression and had harmed herself a few times due to her strained relationship with her family.
“She was quite distressed about quite a few things,” her cousin, Mohammad Nakash Ali, told the hearing.
“It was mostly her family from what she told me and she had a quarrel with her husband which is normal with every relationship.”
Nadia hanged herself on May 1st, having texted her husband to inform him of her intentions. He found her hanging when he returned, and the inquest has ruled out foul play.
Imagine she had already gotten married, but was fearful enough of her parents to take out the forced marriage order. That speaks to the fact that she feared their intentions enough to seek legal redress.
And as that is something that occurs in other Muslim societies, and some other non-Islamic cultures I should add; I’d think she was right to be worried.
The ending was one that I’m sure none of the actors involved desired, but that is the unfortunate reality they have to deal with now. And we can feel sad for them, and for the beautiful young girl whose life was cut short; but we also have to point out the problems with ideologies which can lead to such messed up situations.
The late Christopher Hitchens loved to point out that there was one sure fire way to development, which is the empowerment of women. All societies and religions would do well to heed that call.