letter in Independent, 14.12/13 …
I am writing with reference to Downing Street’s belated intervention on the subject of university segregation. The emerging scourge of gender apartheid within British institutions of higher learning must be eradicated.
This supposedly traditional sexual segregation within Muslim society has no foundation in Islam. Indeed, the Qur’an explicitly sanctions the concept of legitimate social intermingling in Chapter 24:61. The distorted dogma of sexual segregation is an archaic pre-Islamic patriarchal throwback that is now in vogue in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. This non-Qur’anic custom is currently gaining traction in the UK because of uncontested Wahhabi-Salafi propaganda. Religious zealots are imposing their contagious sexist doctrines upon ill-informed British Muslims to promote the belief that the tribal separation of the sexes is intrinsic to Islam.
This trendy gender apartheid is peddled by ideological militants who are financed by Saudi petrodollars to recreate a mythical 7th century Utopia. But this anachronistic male chauvinism is not what pristine Islam teaches. Indeed, Qur’anic Islam actively champions an erudite, enlightened and egalitarian way of life that embraces dignity, justice and parity for everyone.
Liberal and progressive Muslims must campaign to restore gender equality on our campuses and to rid Britain of this primitive blight. Right-thinking Muslims must not allow a foreign-inspired ideology and local fundamentalists to poison the content and character of British Islam.
Dr T Hargey, Director and Imam, Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford.