But not from Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
‘It is child abuse pure and simple’: Prominent Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls for all Muslim schools in Australia to be SHUT DOWN
- Somali-born Islamic critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali says Islamic schools should be closed
- The writer and former Dutch MP said they deprived children of opportunities
- The former Muslim says Islamic schools are filling children with an ideology
Somali-born writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali is calling on Australia to ban Islamic schools
‘It is child abuse pure and simple,’ she told The Daily Telegraph.
‘Muslim schools should not be allowed in liberal society.
Back to the story:
Matthew Johns witnessed ‘incredible cruelty’ in Catholic school
Islamic groups have dodged scrutiny by the Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse
Islamic organisations have dodged scrutiny by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which has spent four years probing numerous religious organisations but made no inquiries into Islam.
The commission, now in its fourth year, has diligently investigated Catholics, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witnesses and obscure cults — along with sporting groups and the entertainment industry.
But it has published no information on sexual abuses against children within Islam, the third largest religion in Australia, raising questions as to whether the commission, which has proactively investigated even small religious sects, has failed Islamic children.
Lawyer Peter Kelso, who has represented 15 survivors of Christian institutions, recently wrote to the commission asking if it had looked at abuse from within Islam, particularly relating to forced child marriage, female genital mutilation and child sex.
“All groups need to be treated equally and fairly,” said Mr Kelso, who got no answers from the commission but argues it should give a balanced picture of faith-based abuse.
“We know there are underage Muslim girls being pressured into things they don’t want to do. I’m happy to suggest the Royal Commission is deliberately avoiding any investigation into Islamic institutions.
“They’ve even investigated a new-age ashram. Why not Islam? I suggest there is a culture of fear in that community.”
The commission has held 6500 one-on-one private interview sessions with survivors or witnesses making allegations of child-sex abuse within institutions.
It told News Corp that since Julia Gillard ordered the inquiry in 2013: “The Royal Commission has held three private sessions in relation to Islamic institutions.”
It declined to give any detail but the commission, which has reached cut-off point and will hold no further private interviews, appears to have taken a view that the small number of complaints does not warrant holding hearings on Islam.
This was despite the Australian Federal Police confirming it had investigated 69 reports of forced marriages in the last financial year.
It declined to comment further but one of its recent in-house publications highlights a 2015 investigation in which an Islamic cleric from a Hunter Valley mosque privately married a 12-year-old girl to a 26-year-old man. It suspected the problem was “much higher” than reported because it was a “taboo subject” that is difficult to investigate.
Even though child marriages and FGM are regarded as serious child-abuse issues within the Islamic community, and generic child sexual abuse cuts across all faiths, the commission confirmed there was no mention of Islam in its thousands of pages of interim reports, case studies and papers.
Cases of forced child marriages and the female genital mutilation are slowly becoming more common in Australian courts and tribunals.
But some cases are failing because of a suspicion that parents seeking Australia’s protection are falsely claiming that if the family is sent home, their daughters will face FGM, or forced marriage.
1. In March 2016, three people were sentenced in Sydney for their role in the female genital mutilation of two seven-year-old sisters. One was the girls’ mother, one an older woman who performed the operation, and the third was a sheikh, or religious leader, at the Dawoodi Bohra Mosque at Auburn, who was not present but supported the FGM and tried to cover it up. Each received 15-month sentences.
2. An unnamed Brisbane taxi driver has been charged with taking his two daughters, now aged 10 and 13, to an unnamed east African country in 2015 where FGM was allegedly performed on them. A doctor reported that each girls’ clitoris was partially removed. The taxi driver denies the charges
3. In 2015, NSW police charged a 26-year-old man with sex offences after he married a girl he first saw at a mosque in the Hunter Valley. The girl’s father was charged with procuring her. The couple were married by an Islamic cleric at a private residence. The case came to police attention after the “husband” went to Centrelink trying to become the child’s legal guardian. He got 10 years; the father got eight
4. In October, the Federal Circuit Court heard an appeal from an Egyptian family who had been denied protection visas by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. One of the claims advanced by the parents was that their daughter would face FGM if sent home. The court did not accept this, or other reasons, and their visas were denied
5. In a similar case in December, the Federal Circuit Court upheld refused an appeal for protection visas from a separate Egyptian family, who said their three daughters would be subjected to FGM by a Salafist uncle.
6. In the Federal Circuit Court of Parramatta in December last year, a judge confirmed that a seven-year-old girl, who the mother fears will be taken overseas for an arranged marriage by her estranged husband, remains on an Airport Watch List to prevent her being taken.
‘CULTURE OF FEAR ’
The commission told News Corp it had since 2013 held “25 private sessions” with individuals complaining about Jewish institutions, which have resulted in unflinching case-study exposes of child abuses in Yeshiva centres in Sydney and Melbourne.
According to census reports, there are half a million Muslims in Australia compared to 100,000 who identify as Jewish. The higher Muslim population and lower complaint numbers appears at odds with probability.
Some argue that it is because no such abuses occur within Australian Islamic institutions, including in schools and mosques that run classes for children.
Others say the culture of fear and silence within Islam is so strong that neither the commission nor police working in child-sex taskforces can get reliable information from behind closed doors.
The Islamic Council of Victoria, the Australian National Imams Council and the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said they had been approached by the Royal Commission back in 2013, but responded they knew of no problems to report.
Keysar Trad, who has since become president of the AFIC, said: “From what I understand, the Royal Commission is dealing with complaints and wherever the complaints come from, that’s what they have to pursue.
“If there haven’t been complaints from within my religion, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any child abuse at all, it means there isn’t any institutional child abuse.
“Islamic teachings are very strong on child protection and that may very well be the reason we are not represented in that inquiry because it may well be the teachings have given adequate protections.”
The Institute of Criminology noted in 2013 that the lack of data “is compounded by the particularly secretive nature of this crime”. It said in the UK, of the 300 cases of forced marriage each year “30 per cent are children under 18 years of age”.
Mr Kelso acknowledges that crimes against children would need to be conducted within an Islamic “institution” to warrant the attention of the commission.
FGM is considered “cultural” and not within the teachings of the Koran, but the Shia-based Dawoodi Bohra faith, which runs a mosque in Auburn, qualifies as an institution. Its members have already been before the courts for conducting and covering up FGM on girls with the consent of a sheikh, who has since been removed.
“If the Royal Commission won’t give an explanation, people will just fill in the gaps,” Mr Kelso said.
The commission has previously stated: “We must carefully choose the matters that are examined in a public hearing. This is due to the large number of institutions in which abuse is reported to have occurred, and the necessary limits of our resources.
“We try to ensure that the hearings reflect a national approach and cover diverse institutions, from sport and recreation organisations to detention and out-of-home care providers.”
In 2014, Hillsong church leader, Brian Houston, told his congregation that the commission would investigate responses by the church to his father, Frank, who committed child sex abuse back when the church was known as the Assemblies of God.
The commission found that Brian Houston and the church’s executive had removed Frank Houston from a position of influence but had failed to go to police.
Mr Kelso’s wife, Michelle, a medical practitioner from Newcastle and member of Hillsong, said Brian Houston took his October 2014 appearance at the commission very seriously.
“He had never hidden what his father had done,” she said. “He said he had been told the commission had dealt with Catholic and Anglican churches but they wanted to choose a non-traditional church such as Hillsong.
“They’ve had Jews, Protestant, Pentecostals and Jehovah’s Witnesses and yet they have bypassed Muslims. Where are they in the Royal Commission?”
The commission would provide no further comment to News Corp; nor would NSW and Victorian police child-sex taskforces.