Last week a young woman named Reyhan K. was subjected to a devastating acid attack at her residence in Germany. She and one of her attackers are of Turkish origin; the other suspect is Syrian.
Our Canadian correspondent Rembrandt Clancy sends a summary of press reports about the incident, including updates from Express.de dated 1 January 2013, and WAZ on 2 January 2013, along with video material. As background for the case, he sends a video by Sabatina James entitled “Women in Islam, Equal Rights or Oppressed?”
He includes this note:
Just a point: The modus operandi of this case has a striking similarity to that of the case of the model and TV presenter, Katie Piper, in 2009 in North London. Her ex-boyfriend, Daniel Lynch put Stefan Sylvester up to throwing the acid. Although this was a brown-on-white attack, I have not been able to discover the origins of the perpetrators.
All the translating and subtitling of this material was done by Rembrandt Clancy.
The Acid Attack on Reyhan K.
by Rembrandt Clancy
The Gates of Vienna news feed of 30 December 2012 made reference to an acid attack on a young Turkish woman in Germany.
The essentials of the press reports of the acid attack on Reyhan K. can be summarised as follows: Twenty-year-old Reyhan K., a Turkish immigrant woman who lives in Hilden near Düsseldorf in North Rhein-Westphalia, has landed in a special clinic in Duisburg with severe burns to her face and body. On Saturday morning, December 29, 2012, the doorbell rang at the residence of Reyhan’s grandparents. A man in disguise quickly sprayed the young woman twice in the face and body with a fluid which turned out to be sulphuric acid. He then fled the scene without having said a word.
A few hours after the attack, police arrested a former boyfriend, a 22-year-old Turkish man by the name of Serhat K. During interrogation the suspect admitted having incited a younger 18-year-old male accomplice to carry out the attack. The name and other background information of this individual does not appear to be available at this point, although the video included here identifies him as Syrian. On the day of the crime he turned himself in to Düsseldorf police in the company of his lawyer.
Here is the news report from Westdeutsche Rundfunk (WDR) of 30 December 2012:
Examination of many media sources failed to turn up any mention of Islam in connection with this crime, although all the principals appear to originate from the Islamic cultural sphere, and the circumstances of the event suggest a crime of the “honour” type.
An account of the crime is reported in Express.de (30 December 2012):
Prior to the fateful acid attack, the 20-year old woman had reported her ex-boyfriend several times – but the police did nothing.
Reyhan K. broke up with Serhat K. two years ago. At that time he said to her ‘I won’t put up with that, I will harm you!’
Since then there have been continual threats, often by telephone. However, he attacked Reyhan on the open street at least twice: some time ago on the way home from her work in Düsseldorf, and a few weeks ago in the middle of Hilden.
“She was at the police station in Hilden and Langenfeld at least six to seven times, and reported her ex-boyfriend – the last time on 6 December. But simply nothing happened, they did nothing,” said Güler K. [Reyhan’s mother].The police acknowledge that three reports have been lodged since November 2011 — among other things, because the man from Langefeld [Serhat K.] threatened to attack his ex-girl friend with acid.
The news of the parents’ complaints about the failure of the police to respond to their daughter’s vain attempts to gain the attention of the police appeared yesterday, 2 January 2012, in the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ):
Even a restraining order on the 22-year old [Serhat K.] issued by the regional court in Langenfeld could not protect the young woman. The ex-boyfriend instigated his buddy to take part in the previously planned acid attack anyway…
Police will Investigate the Complaints of the Family
A spokesman for the police in Mettmann told the NRZ [Neue Ruhr/Neue Rhein Zeitung] that the accusations of the family are only known from the press. It goes without saying that the investigating committee will look into the accusations this Wednesday. Will the county police in Mettmann despite their rapid investigative success [in making the arrests] now have to relinquish the case to a neutral agency? It is still to early to judge, so it was being claimed yesterday.
On 1 Jan. 2013 a second article appeared in Express.de . It describes the current mental and physical state of Reyhan K.:
“My daughter is in complete shock. She is withdrawn. I no longer recognise her at all”, reports Reyhan’s mother Güler K (44)…
Formerly Reyhan used to enjoy posing for photos. Today the head of the young woman is shaved on the right side, and the area is replete with brown blotches, her right ear lobe was completely shredded.
As to whether the beautiful girl will ever again look as she did before the attack — the doctors do not wish to commit themselves. “For that it is still too early,” according to mother Güler.
And Reyhan herself? She is silent about the events. She will receive no visitors and will not speak with anyone about her experience, not even with her mother…
A Related Video
Since this case originates in the Islamic cultural sphere, and pertains to the treatment of women there, readers may be interested in a video by Sabatina James entitled “Women in Islam, Equal Rights or Oppressed?” (originally posted 30 November 2012 on Alhayat TV).
Sabatina James treats the issue using Islamic sources, quoted on screen, to document the societal underpinnings such as those of the “honour” type affecting Reyhan K.
Sabatina James, who is well-known to many readers, would appear well qualified for the task. She was born in Pakistan to an Islamic family, but today she is a well-known Islam-critic in Germany. James’ family had arranged a forced marriage with her cousin in Pakistan. When she refused, she was forcibly sent to a madrassa, where she memorised the Koran. Her conversion to the Catholic faith in 2003 earned her a death-threat from her father.
Hence she is an apostate from Islam. Today she is in Germany under police protection. In the video Sabatina James gives Islamic sources, quoted on screen, which she says forms the basis for the treatment of women in Islam. For more on Sabatina James see the Gates of Vienna post “It is Better to Die in Freedom Than to Live in Submission”.
Transcript of WDR video
|Reporter:||Only a few hours after the sulphuric acid attack the police in Mettmann were able to explain the cowardly act.|
|Police Spokesman:||It quickly came to light that this case relates to a personal relationship. Hence sometime yesterday the former companion of the twenty-year-old, a 22-year-old from Langenfeld, could be arrested.|
|Reporter:||The ex-friend of the victim was known to the police. He had threatened and beaten his former girlfriend several times in the past. As a result the competent district court had imposed since November a restraining order against the perpetrator. That stopped the German-Turk, but he put his friend onto the woman.|
|Police Spokesman:||During his interrogations today he made it known that he incited an 18-year-old friend to carry out the crime. Together they purchased sulphuric acid in a pharmacy, and the 18-year-old sprayed the victim in the face with it.|
|Reporter:||The woman’s 22-year-old ex-boyfriend must now face charges of personal injury or inciting an offence.|
|Police Spokesman:||The 18-year-old, who gave himself up today in the company of his lawyer, will tonight also be brought before a magistrate.|
|Reporter:||The serious burns to the face of the young woman will be further treated in a special clinic. Her grandmother, who was also affected by the acid spray in the attack, could meanwhile leave the hospital.|
Transcript of “Women in Islam, Equal Rights or Oppressed” by Sabatina James
Women in Islam, Equal Rights or Oppressed” Welcome to Islam unter die Lupe [Islam under the Microscope]
In numerous reports by human rights organisations or in television debates, the theme of women’s rights in Islam occupies a special role. Islam is reproached for suppressing women and for denying them many of their individual civil rights. The discussion ranges from forced marriage and abuse to the restriction of their personal freedom.
“Now come the accusations”, say some Muslims. They claim that due to the media power of humanists and Zionists, the subject is turned into a political instrument for distorting the image of Islam. The suppression of women contradicts the teachings of Islam and is in no way consistent with the teachings of the prophet Mohammed.
The Central Council of Muslims in Germany writes for example:
“Islam knows no discrimination and stratification on the grounds of sex…
Unfortunately many non-Muslims have a false understanding of Islam, and the media have contributed a great deal to it. It is important to differentiate between what Islam says and what many Muslims do.” [ZDM.islam.de]
Our thinking, however, rests neither on media reports nor on behaviours of some Muslims. For our account there exists a solid foundation in the Islamic sources which is not to be discounted. In the Koran itself the stratification of women is clearly evident.
Of great legal significance is for example Sura 2.228, where it says: “… although men have a status above women…” [N. J. Dawood, Penguin]
“This represents a level of responsibility,” reply Muslims. But in Koran commentaries or interpretations of this verse prominent scholars see the man in many respects a step higher than the woman: “The man is higher in virtue, invention, character, morals, position, status, maintenance, responsibility, favour and preference, on earth and in the hereafter.”
To the man is due the submission of the woman, since he is responsible for her dower and maintenance.
Even in Sura 4.34, where it says:
“Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the others…” [N. J. Dawood, Penguin].
Even here ‘responsibility’ is explained in the Koran interpretation in a way that shows the man is ruler, commander and educator of the woman. For Allah has determined that men are better in knowledge and judgment than the women. What Allah through his Prophet has declared and decreed about women remains irrevocable. For the words of Allah have come down in order to regulate the relationship of the Prophet to women and to set standards off faith. Accordingly the man is supposed to rule the woman and educate her to obedience, if necessary also with beatings.
In Sura 4.34 ii says, for example:
“…As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them…” [N. J. Dawood, Penguin].
“By that is meant light hitting without humiliation”, argue some Muslims, …although the word “light” does not occur in the original text.
But nevertheless, beatings dishonour and humiliate every woman and cause her immeasurable mental anguish. According to the definition of some Muslims, the punishment of women must not be viewed negatively. Exactly the contrary is the case: the woman should be thankful that Allah wants only the best for her. Allah wills to have her educated by the man, therefore he urges the men thus: “Hang the whip up where the women of the house see it, for in it lies her education.” Disparaging statements about women of the Arab Prophet Mohammed are extolled, glossed over, and often also idealised. In his farewell address Mohammed is supposed to have admonished the husband to treat their wives well.
Let us read an oft-manipulated translation of this text:
“Fear Allah in regard to women, for you have taken her under Allah’s protection. The (utilisation) taking of her genitalia was permitted to you by the word of Allah. You have a certain right over your women, and they have a certain right over you. Toward you they have the duty to take no one to your bed whom you hate. If she does so, however, beat her, but not hard. In respect of you she has the right to be cared for amicably and clothed. [Ibn Kathir on Sura 4.34, Tafsir Al tabari Authentically after Al albani, Sahih Muslim, Al Tirmithi Ibn Madjah.]
In this speech in which Muslims wish to see a granting of women’s rights, the woman appears rather as an acquired possession of the man. With marriage the woman receives according to Sharia law the right to maintenance; in return the man receives the right to obedience and above all, to sexual obedience. And woe to those that that either evade sex or withhold sexually. This can be punished accordingly with beating.
“And if he asks her to surrender herself [to him for sexual intercourse] she should not refuse him even if she is on a camel’s saddle” (Ibn Madjah 1854).
Said Mohammed. Where is the equality in that, where the woman by sexual refusal may be beaten, while the man however may avoid her in bed for four months without consequences? During this time he may naturally have sexual contact with his slaves.
Islam withholds from the woman her basic rights, and depicts her as an inferior creature:
- She is placed one level lower than the man;
- She inherits half of that which the man inherits;
- Her testimony as a witness is half the value of that of a man.
And so, at law, two highly educated women are equivalent to an uneducated farmer.
She can be beaten, but the man not; she can be refused in bed, but the man not.
She lacks in understanding and in the exercise of religion, said Mohammed.
She is unclean, and with her uncleanliness is equated with nature’s call.
She is equated with animals since both interrupt prayer while passing by, said Mohammed.
Aisha asked aghast: “So, have you placed us on the same level with the ass and the dog?!”
In the woman there is temptation and her cunning is great and satanic. She appears in the form of a devil. Along with the house and the animal [horse], she is an omen, a bringer of bad luck. She is incapable of governing a people. The majority of the inhabitants of hell are women, said Mohammed. And last of all: should the woman think about other things and wish to turn away from Islam, she will be locked up for life and whipped daily until she shows repentance.
Mohammed derided and degraded the woman and made her a prisoner of the man. She is to obey unconditionally and even be available at all times everywhere in order to still his desires.
Sura 2.223 “Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields as you please” [N. J. Dawood, Penguin].
Many Euro-Muslims seek tirelessly to retouch their distorted image of woman with a few statements from Suras. So one cannot simply explain away the stratification of the woman in Islam or simply dispose of the other dicta. For the discriminatory statements are simply much more numerous than the positive ones.
It goes without saying that Islamic teachings discriminatory to women are not simply grabbed out of the air. These have their roots in the Koran and in the Sunnah, where the degrading and unjust equating of the woman with animals is clearly to be seen. But strangely, many Muslim women, most notably in the face of these facts again and again however troubled they are, claim: they are always on an equal footing with the men. I say only, read the Koran and the Sunnah.