“We can say I worked as shepherd,” he smiles. “I was in charge of a herd of goats in northern Morocco.” Until he crossed the Straits and settled in the province of Tarragona. Unemployed, handicapped by the lack of training and a chronic disease for many years improvised direction of prayers in several mosques in the vicinity of Valls and Torredembarra. Rachid H. worked as an imam. “Not really, but I know Islam better than others“, said after admitting that no studies that Muslim countries call for the task.
What kind of prayers were performed by this improvised imam? “I talked about everything: the relationship between men and women, life’s problems,” he says. Witnesses say those prayers castigated women and young Muslims who were related to people outside this belief. Rachid denies without elaborating. But at home, he stores magazines, recordings and videos that shed some clue to his speeches. The material supports that an adulterous wife should be punished with death and supports other repressive behaviors on the role of women relative to men, according to the report of the register details of the property conducted by the Autonomous Police in 2009. Rachid, who asked not to reveal his name for his legal situation, only occasionally leads prayers, due to his poor state of health and also because he is on probation after being charged with promoting violence linked to radical Salafism, Islam’s ultra-conservative current.
I don’t care about his health. If he is Moroccan, he should have been expelled after learning about his sermons.
Rachid’s sexist diatribes and repressive tone are common elements between the improvised imams. They are people without religious training that have emerged as leaders of the prayers of their communities, generally in the most precarious and isolated from major urban centers and without the means to hire a minimally trained imam.
|Abu Omar Hussein
As Abu Omar Hussein, the president of the Muslim community in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) (he said that “forbidding the hijab is a crime“, last April), who, in an interview with this newspaper goes on to say that killing by stoning an adulteress is fair and in line with Islam and that the ultimate goal is to defend children, stigmatized if they are born out of wedlock. He reflects on this: “God wants you to be clean. Stoning has an objective: that no adulterer has sons. He (will give birth to) a child without a father, with hatred, (as) he has no rights (sic). Islam does not want many children of adulterers in the world.“
For that reason, Omar Hussein, referring to the Iranian Sakineh Ashtiani, sentenced to death, should be stoned: “That woman and her lover killed her husband. They should kill that woman one by one, man for man (…) Islam respects human rights and women. Islam does not attack a very clean woman. “
The imam of Alcalá believes that in Europe sexual promiscuity is promoted: “Changing partners is offered. Is this is civilization? Six people make love in the same bed, without shame. It allows two women or two men marry . The nude beaches … If Jesus son of Mary, arrived today would be ashamed. “
Another one who is in the same situation: he is Egyptian, so if he doesn’t like Spain, he can go back there or be expelled, because he clearly isn’t integrated in Spanish society.
What he considers as “sexual promiscuity”, means only that people are free to take decisions about their life. No one is obliged to marry another human being of their own sex, no one is obliged to go around naked on beaches and also no one is obliged to change partners. But if someone wants to do it, he can. That’s not “promoting sexual promiscuity“, that’s just freedom to choose. And there are also people who are not the least “promiscuous“, because that’s their choice, and not because some barbaric imam tells them that they should be stoned if they are. But this guy doesn’t know about this other people, because they aren’t on TV 24/7 and they give no scandals.
“Illegitimate” childs don’t exist, either. They have the same rights as the children from married couples. So no hatred and no tales to support stoning.
These are examples of the improvisation with which Islam has been installed in Spain: there are no rules, standards or criteria in relation to ministers of religion to Islam. They are not properly Islamic radicals (sic): mixed religion with repressive traditions imported from their country of origin and spread as sacred mandates. This enables that cases such as the Cunit’s imam, who is awaiting trial and sentence for coercing and threatening a Muslim because she lived a Western lifestyle, that generate social alarm against Islam and demonize the figure of the imams inside Spanish society. In Cunit, the imam is actually a worker who lost his job after suffering a leg injury and went on to lead the prayer of his group even though he only knows the Koran by heart, by his own account.
You see: for El País, someone who is supporting stoning in the name of religion is not “properly an Islamic radical“.
However, experts warn that it’s greater the risk of social exclusion that a hypothetical terrorist threat. What messages are disseminated by imams without proper training and considered radical? “If a Muslim is mixed with a Western, if only to shake hands, is contaminated by their sins.” “Women can not leave home except to attend the funeral of the husband.” “Children should learn the Koran and you must not associate with other children are not Muslims.” “The West is against Islam, would pervert and threatens us because we are noble.” These are excerpts from the prayers that magnets on Fridays, according to some followers of the mosques in the area of Reus and Tarragona. After being consulted on these statements, the imams who led the prayers have categorically denied.
“The possibility that any imam can lead prayers is a problem but controversial cases are exceptional,” defends Riad Tatary (born in Syria although now he’s a Spanish national), secretary general of the representative body of Islam with the Government since 1992, the Islamic Commission of Spain (CIE). “But the media generalize these cases and have created a very dangerous Islamophobia” he notes. Controversial cases are, in effect, a minority among the thousand imams is estimated that lead prayers in Spain. “But they can’t be considered as exceptions from the rule because no one has set this standard. The Islamic Commission should impose criteria to control who can and who can not exercise as imam. For their own good: untrained imams are the ones who spread the most radical and dangerous messages, “argues Jordi Moreres, sociologist expert in Islam. But they aren’t so exceptional, according to other experts. “After 15 years living in Spain, I have not seen in the whole country, a single valid imam,” says Hesham El Sadr, founder of the Islamic Cultural Association Attawwhid.
The indefinite figure of the imam is the main obstacle to the normalization of Islam in Spain: 1.3 million people follow this belief in the country and it is not immigrants only but a growing majority has or is in the process of achieving Spanish nationality.
Nevertheless, anyone able to convince their fellow Muslims, can be constructed into an imam, whether he is liberal-leaning, conservative or just a visionary. It is a reality that has taken root among the Muslim communities in impoverished areas, with virtually illiterate immigrants who barely know the language, laws or Spanish customs. This cocktail caused cases of imams that encourage isolation and rejection of Western people or situations such as Lleida’s imam, Abdelwahab Houzi, monitored by the National Intelligence Center as one of the most dangerous because of his radicalism and that according to several faithful advocates polygamy in his prayers, a tradition alien to Islam (sic). Others promote criticism and attacks on Western values that lead to suspicion of terrorism.
Polygamy is a tradition alien to Islam? In what world?
And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.
Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding, and practise self-restraint, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Verses 3 and 129 from Sura An-Nissa, Women).
Those two verses state that:
1. Polygamy is allowed.
2. It’s limited to four wifes.
The article ends:
“It’s possible that extremist imams living in Spain are spreading this type of message, as an attempt to assert the traditions of their country of origin. We need time and quiet to contact them and make them understand,” claims Tatary. ICE, on paper, is the referee that should regulate and account for the activity of the imams, and it’s engaged in a reform to settle the current crisis of representation that encourages lawlessness. There are a thousand of Muslim communities in Spain, about 800 of them registered. More than 400 are not represented in this body.
“It’s possible…“. It seems Mr. Tatari doesn’t believe that these cases really exist. And no, these extremist imams are not waiting for Tatari and friends to reform anything, they are spreading this message now.