The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) is appalled to learn of the Bristol University Christian Union’s ban on women speaking at its main meetings and events. The sexist policy, which demonstrated a blatant disregard for gender equality, has now been reversed after an ensuing uproar.
Whilst the CEMB congratulates those involved in the successful campaign to uphold basic principles of equality in the face of religiously-inspired misogyny, we remain concerned that the same treatment handed out to women by Islamic societies is routinely ignored, creating a double standard.
Whilst questions are now rightly being asked about the policies of Christian Unions elsewhere in the country, no one has yet dared publicly inquire as to the treatment of women by Student Union Islamic Societies, in Bristol or elsewhere. It appears that the likely findings may prove too awkward for many, fearful that legitimate questioning may be met with unfounded but nevertheless problematic accusations of racism and intolerance. The result is an unequal treatment with regards women under Islam as opposed to Christianity, which undermines the very same principle of universal equality that vocal opponents of the Christian Union policy endeavoured to defend.
Assessments of equality must be applied to all groups without prejudice, without excuses and without the malignant adoption of cultural moral relativism and exceptionalism. Gender segregation, bans on women fully participating and leading meetings, the absence of females from positions of authority, as well as more insidious pressures towards social conformity with regards dress and behaviour would rightly be intolerable to many if they were found to be the formal or informal policies of Christian groups, but the reaction to this very same treatment of female Muslim students is ominously muted.
We urge universities, unions and individual students to openly inquire as to the practice and attitude towards equality of all bodies, including Islamic ones, and to respond in accordance with the fundamental principle that all people, regardless of their religious belief or lack there of, have equal rights which must be upheld and defended with equal vigour and intensity.
For more information, contact:
Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK
tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
Company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales under company number 8059509.