Westerners Welcome Harems

Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, December 7, 2008

The case involved a Muslim male who drove 64 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone—usually grounds for an automatic loss of one’s driving license. The defendant’s lawyer explained his client’s need to speed: “He has one wife in Motherwell and another in Glasgow and sleeps with one one night and stays with the other the next on an alternate basis. Without his driving license he would be unable to do this on a regular basis.” Sympathetic to the polygamist’s plight, the judge permitted him to retain his license.

Monogamy, this ruling suggests, long a foundation of Western civilization, is silently eroding under the challenge of Islamic law. Should current trends continue, polygamy could soon be commonplace.

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Some imams openly acknowledge conducting polygamous marriage ceremonies: Khalil Chami reports he is asked almost weekly to conduct such ceremonies in Sydney. Aly Hindy reports having “blessed” more than 30 such nuptials in Toronto.

Social acceptance is also growing. Academics justify it, while politicians blithely meet with polygamists or declare Westerners should “find a way to live with it” and journalists describe polygamy with empathy, sympathy and compassion. Islamists argue polygamy’s virtues and call for its official recognition.

Polygamy has made key legal advances in 2008. (For fuller details, see my blog, “Harems Accepted in the West.”) At least six Western jurisdictions now permit harems on the condition that these were contracted in jurisdictions where polygamy is legal, including India and Muslim-majority countries from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia to Morocco.

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At a time when Western marriage norms are already under challenge, Muslims are testing legal loopholes and even seeking taxpayer support for multiple brides. This development has vast significance: Just as the concept of one man, one woman marriage has shaped the West’s economic, cultural and political development, the advance of Islamic law (Shariah) will profoundly change life as we know it.

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