Inga-Lill Bengtsson: Abir Shalati:"There are a lot of women in Europe as well who are oppressed by men"
That was the first time I heard that prejudice put so straightforwardly.
I answered and said, ”Yes, but a lot of women in Europe are oppressed by men too, although they are not Moslems”. I didn't want to create a bad atmosphere, so I changed the subject.
In fact I don't understand the argument that women are oppresed on religious grounds, particularly in Islam. Everything is relative. I can feel sorry for many women who, from my point of view, are oppressed in a secular society. They have to work for a living. As a Moslem woman I don't have to work at all. In Islam the man is responsible for the family's economy. No matter whether he be father, brother or husband.
I choose to work, but I don't have to use my money to keep the family. I can save my salary and buy something for myself if I wish. If a woman decides to buy something for the home, there are many men who cannot accept that the woman pays for it – men think that they are responsible for the economy even although the woman has a job.
I've heard a lot from friends in Sweden and Germany about what life is like for women. They go out to work, and have to look after the home as well. Their husbands refuse to help with the housework. They don't do any cleaning and they don't take care of the children. And they take no active part in any religious activities. Can you say that those women are oppressed in the name of religion?
Perhaps someone might say that Moslem men work and take responsibility for the family's economy, so women must take care of the home. That isn't true either. Admittedly many people do live like that. For cultural reasons and tradition. Because that is how our forefathers lived.
Many people ignore the fact that there is no compulsion in Islam for a woman to cook, clean and look after the home. That can be a woman's role – if that is what she wants. All over the world there are many Moslem famlies where the man goes out to work, a cleaner attends to the domestic tasks and the women take care of the children – and that is how they want it.
To sum up, thousands of women all over the world are oppressed. But not because they are Moslems, Christians or belong to any other religion. They are oppressed by men who want to dominate women and force them into obedience, and this is accepted by culture and tradition. And by the community at large.