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Muslim Women Must Share The Blame For Attacks Like Cologne

Mothers in traditional Muslim families instill in both their daughters and sons the values that lead to the subordination of women, which can lead to sexual attacks like those that have made headlines in Germany.

Near the Turkey-Syria border
Near the Turkey-Syria border
Kathrin Spoerr

BERLIN — "You should be angry with Muslim Women!" In the wake of the mob assaults against women in Cologne on New Year's Eve, this is the surprising message from former Femen activist Zana Ramadani — one of the few members of the radical feminist group from a Muslim background.

Ramadani warns that mass criminal activity towards women are possible wherever Muslims live, which she blames on traditional Muslim values — and the women who instill them in their children.

Ramadani, 32, was born In Macedonia, but grew up in the Siegerland region in central Germany. She now lives in Berlin.

DIE WELT: "Who should we be angry with when you reflect on the excesses of New Year's Eve? Should we be angry with Arabs, Muslims or men in general?"

ZANA RAMADANI: Clearly with Muslims. Not just with Muslim men but also with Muslim women, especially Muslim mothers. The image of women which Muslim men have and which was brought to the fore on New Year's Eve is lived and perpetuated in the entire cultural Muslim world. The same thing could have happened in Macedonia, where I was born, as well as in Pakistan or Bangladesh. It could have happened in any Muslim country, and it does happen there on a daily basis. It is their values that are responsible for what happened. And these are the values of Islam.

Which values are these?

They are as follows: women are servants. Women are slaves. We are a commodity. We have to be chaste. If we look into a man's eyes for too long then we want to tempt him, arouse him. Everything we do and everything we are is pure provocation. Which is why we have to cover ourselves up. But at the same time, it is implied that all men are rapists, driven by their urges.

That is the indeed the impression that many had after the events in Cologne.

Of course, but that is utter nonsense. I don't believe that Arab men are more driven by their urges or have more testosterone than European Christian men. But Muslim men are raised with a detestable image of women, they despise them. They are taught that women who wear short skirts or tight trousers are "available." They are taught that they have the right to be disrespectful towards women. What many Muslims and Imams don't understand is the fact that they do not only harbor a bad image of women but of men as well. The veil rule implies that every man cannot help himself but to jump on a woman if she shows her hair. It therefore implies that every man is a rapist driven by his urges. Islamic values are therefore both misogynistic and hostile towards men.

Why do men have these values?

In the Muslim world it is still the norm that women raise children. These women have values which are often the cause of their own suffering, but they are so internalized that these women pass these values on to their sons as well as their daughters. The boys are treated like a prince from the get go and are spoiled. The girls are mainly instructed to be virtuous. They have to help out at home and often help to spoil the boys from a young age onwards.

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Emergency exit from mosque in Germany? — Photo: Glasseyes View

Are all Muslim mothers that extreme?

Of course not every mother will call their young daughter a whore as I was when she plays with a boy in a sandbox. The older generation is probably much more extreme than the younger one. But the thought that a girl is not allowed to do this or that, that a girl has to behave in a certain way and a boy in another is rooted deeply within Islamic culture.

How does a good Muslim girl behave?

She does not contradict anyone. She has to be at home at all times. She has to stay with the family at all times. And there is the matter of the virgin craze. The family honor is to be found between the daughter's legs.

So the mother is also responsible for sexual oppression?

Yes. Every mother teaches her daughter that she is only worth something when she enters into matrimony as a virgin. You have to stay married and can never separate, you just have to accept your fate.

Some see the Koran as the root of all evil. The veil rule and the superiority of men are derived from it. But you can also find the worship of women in Koran. The mother has saintly status. How can you reconcile adoration of and contempt for women?

The woman is portrayed as a saint in some Suras and Hadiths. But in some she is portrayed as the exact opposite, the shameless woman who is nothing but a sexual plaything that the man is allowed to use whenever he pleases. The woman is considered as good as long as she is pure and virtuous, as long as she is subordinate and obeys. The woman is honored and well treated as long as she submits to others. But everyday life for women is a perverted affair which is demonstrated particularly well in this Sura: ‘Your wives are your field, go to sow your field whenever it pleases you.' The woman is compared to a field, a sexual object that is at her husband's disposal. If you teach your sons and daughters that this is the norm it really shouldn't be surprising as to what happened in Cologne and what happens in other Muslim cultural areas. It is clear to me that these attacks are connected to Islam.

Do some women in Muslim cultural areas feel at home in the role that they have been assigned?

You have to keep in mind that all women are different. But many just oblige, accept their role and their own inferiority. These women voluntarily wear a head scarf from a very young age onwards and despise other girls who don't. These girls often apply a lot of peer pressure on others. But then there are those girls that rebel against their parents, like me for example. I was beaten up over many years, often so violently that I wasn't able to sit for days on end. And it was always my mother that beat me, never my father, and that is the norm. It is the mother who does the thrashing, who humiliates and abuses the disobedient daughter. I learned after a while that I had better keep my mouth shut, out of fear of receiving more beatings and the accompanying pain.

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Ramadani comes from an ethnic Albanian family in Macedonia — Image: Blanke Wut

What can be done to avoid that these medieval sentiments establish themselves in Germany?

There is a lot that can be done. We need to stop thinking that this doesn't have anything to do with Islam. It has everything to do with Islam. We have to demand a lot of the migrants, especially of the female migrants. Language courses alone aren't enough. We have to initiate a change in values within their own minds. We have to empower these women. It quite often happens that a Muslim family comes to a government department and the man talks some unintelligible rubbish while his wife remains silent. If these women had more responsibility their husbands would be reliant on them.

How is this to be achieved in real life?

Citizens courses that are mandatory for every woman. And those who refuse to go don't receive any benefits. The woman is the key to the family. We have to be courageous enough to defend our values, and we have to force Muslims to accept these because this won't work if we don't force them. We have to stop with our misguided tolerance towards Islam when it destroys our values."

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