Best columns: Europe
How Brexit could hurt women
British women could lose many of their rights after the U.K. leaves the European Union, said Sophie Walker. Prime Minister Theresa May says the “mass rewriting of our country’s laws post-Brexit” is “too time-consuming to allow for input from opposition parties”—so she will just let her ministers do it, with no input from Parliament. Many of the legal protections British women enjoy today were imposed by the EU but opposed by lawmakers from May’s Conservative Party, and so could soon be swept aside. These include regulations governing maternity leave, as well as laws that safeguard the rights of part-time workers, who are predomi nantly women. A post-Brexit rollback of employment rights will disproportionately affect women, because they are more likely to take time off to care for young children or elderly parents. The Conservatives have a poor track record here. Since the party took power in 2010 under then–Prime Minister David Cameron, women have shouldered nearly all welfare cuts. And even though our prime minister is now a woman who “talks a lot about violence against women,” she nevertheless slashed the budget for survivors’ services. Brexit was supposed to be “about taking back control and protecting our own.” Shouldn’t that include women?
Removing radicals from our mosques
Islam in Belgium is dominated by an extremist sect, said Bosco d’Otreppe. Mosques, Islamic bookstores, and Muslim cultural centers here receive much of their funding from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab petro-monarchies that follow hard-line Salafism, an extremist branch of Sunni Islam that subjugates women, condemns followers of other sects as apostates, and encourages violent jihad. That is dangerous for young Belgian Muslims. Like all young people, they “thirst for meaning” in their lives, and when they look to religion, they find only “this conservative and ultrastrict doctrine.” The imams who preach to them aren’t local Belgian Muslims, but Saudi imports with a specific political agenda. No wonder the youth are easily radicalized. Belgian Muslims desperately need to “renew their theology in order to offer a nourishing alternative discourse to Salafism.” And to do so, they will need government assistance. The region of Wallonia has taken a good first step, drafting a law that will establish oversight of the funding of mosques and require that all sermons conform to the norms in the Belgian Constitution. But Muslims will also need more support in integrating into the rest of society. Only then can we produce a truly Belgian form of Islam, one that can spiritually nourish Muslims without alienating them from the rest of society. ■