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Activists Says Europe Must Protect Muslim Women

19 April 2005 -- Rights defenders said yesterday that European governments were allowing Islamic extremists to deny basic rights to Muslim women under the guise of respecting different cultures.

The activists, including Dutch member of parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali, called on governments in Europe to do more to prevent human rights abuses in Muslim communities in their countries, particularly those abuses committed against women.

Hirsi Ali said Muslim women in Europe were beaten, forced into marriages, suffer genital mutilation, and sometimes are taken by their parents to their country of origin and forced to stay there against their wills.

Hirsi Ali, a Somali immigrant, said sometimes women are even killed.

Hirsi Ali said liberal democratic governments were not interfering because they argue it is simply their culture.

Hirsi Ali countered that the majority of women in European women's shelters are from non-Western countries and the majority of those are Muslim women.