From The Telegraph:
Women should not be allowed to go on long journeys without a male chaperone a British Muslim group has advised followers.
Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, condemned the advice from Blackburn Muslim Association as “disgraceful” and said such views had “no place” in modern Britain.
Instructions from the association’s “Department of Theology” insist that it is “not permissible” for a woman to go more than 48 miles – deemed to be the equivalent of three days walk – without her husband or a close male relative.
It also stipulates that men must grow beards and advises women to cover their faces.
The rulings are contained in a question and answer section of the group’s site which offers offer “solutions and answers” to social, religious and financial matters from Sharia teaching, accompanied by the catchphrase: “Allah knows best.”
The group is listed as an affiliate of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and claims on its website to have received funding from its local council in the past.
But leading Muslim scholars, including a prominent adviser to the MCB, rejected the guidance as “offensive in this day and age” while the National Secular Society condemned it as “almost medieval”.
The row comes amid increasingly acrimonious debate about religious identity and race in the run-up to today’s local and mayoral elections.
Ms Greening’s intervention came following a question from David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth, during development questions in the Commons.
He asked if efforts to improve sexual equality “would be made easier if organisations like the Blackburn Muslim Association were not putting out information to people that women should not be allowed to travel more than 48 miles without a chaperone?”
She replied that she had seen the website, adding: “Frankly the view that they expressed on it is disgraceful and unacceptable.
“It has no place in Britain and is contrary to our British values and I think the Blackburn Muslim Association should very clearly and publicly withdraw those comments.”
Neither the Blackburn Muslim Association not the Muslim Council of Britain commented officially last night.
But Dr Sheik Howjat Ramzy, an Oxford-based scholar and former head of the MCB’s education committee said: “I believe this is offensive in this day and age that such a restriction should be placed on any woman against her wishes.
“This practice was a very old tradition which had been followed by some when there was no security for women and when women were at risk of being abducted when travelling alone. – this was a tradition at the very beginning of Islam.
“I would think no Muslim man has the right to impose these restrictions of movement. Women should be free to go where they please.
“I believe they should withdraw this statement and not degrade women. Islam gives great freedom to women – travel is part of that freedom.”…