It should however be noted: no-one was pointing fingers at others; the criticism was also always part self-criticism. For Islam, this task was significantly undertaken by two remarkable women: Sakena Yacoobi from Afghanistan, active in the area of women’s education since 1995, and Ingrid Mattson, the long-serving President of the Islamic Society of North America.

Campaign against child marriage

Yacoobi described how she had had to pull out all the stops to return to her family a girl who had been married off to a much older wealthy landowner. This man entrenched himself behind religion: Muhammad sanctioned this.

As a result of Yacoobi’s involvement, people began talking about the case and questioning whether such ancient religious permission should really still apply. Concerned about damage to his reputation, the landowner backed down. Other speakers pointed out that education is the best means to challenge the practice of child marriage – regardless of whether in the Indian or Islamic context.

Current refugee crises were also a major talking point. The fact that many of the speakers themselves had fled their home nations to come to Canada, often from the Islamic world, gave these debates even greater credibility: for example the Baha’is from Iran, escaping persecution after the Iranian Revolution; and the Yazidis from Iraq fleeing IS – a group that has by no means been conquered on all fronts. There were bitter complaints from the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Mowafak Tarif, about the silence of the international public over the murder and abduction of several Druze in southern Syria by IS as recently as late October.

Art installation at the Parliament of the Worldʹs Religions (photo: Stefan Weidner)
Not genocide – "gender-cide": an art installation at the event presented the murderous truth: baby socks and baby shoes, made in the affected countries and hung on strings, formed a depressing labyrinth through which visitors walked. One pair of shoes represented ten thousand lost girls

The biggest cause of death is however not a genocide, but "gender-cide": the murder of people because of their gender. The victims are practically all girls and women. Every year, there are more than three million women fewer than the biological norm dictates. They are either aborted, die during childbirth, or for other reasons of severe disadvantagement.

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