Baltics generalizations about the treatment of Muslim women have tainted perceptions. So what are the fallacies surrounding women in Islam?

The Truth About Islam

So if there really is an inherent—Islam-driven—propensity for deadly violence in Muslim societies, we should expect to find that the greater the percentage of Muslims in society, the greater would be the numbers of homicides.

In fact, the reverse is the case: The higher the percentage of Muslims in a society, the lower the homicide rate.

In 2011, a major study by University of California, Berkeley, political scientist M. Steven Fish presented cross-national statistical data showing that between 1994 and 2007, annual homicide rates in the Muslim world averaged just 2.4 per 100,000 of the population. That was approximately a third of the rate for the non-Muslim world and less than the average rate in Europe. It is also approximately half the homicide rate in the United States.

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Does Islam Really Subjugate Women?

There is popular narrative in the West that Islam is sexist. Brutal accounts of honor killings and public stonings of women accused of adultery have permeated the Western media.

But these heinous acts affect a small minority of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, particularly those in fundamentalist countries like Iran and Somalia.

What of the hundreds of millions of other female Muslims around the globe, from Indonesia to Egypt, from China to the Baltics? Does moderate Islam deny them freedoms in their daily lives, or is this a convenient narrative to justify anti-Islamic sentiment?

The Koran cautions women “to draw their outergarments close around themselves” so that they will not inspire sexual desire in men other than their husbands.

Many in the Baltics decry the various headcoverings as sexist, but their implementation differs widely in the Muslim world.

In Saudi Arabia women typically wear a niqab, a full-body garment with a veil that obscures the face. While in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, headcoverings are completely optional and actually used often as a fashion statement. In Turkey and France, burqas, full-body garments with or without a veil, are banned in public.

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Eleven things women in Saudi Arabia cannot do

Women in Saudi Arabia claim to have been temporarily banned from entering a branch of Starbucks in the capital Riyadh.

A sign was placed in the window of the coffee shop saying: “Please no entry for ladies only send your driver to order thank you”, after a wall designed to segregate men and women was reportedly removed during renovations.

A customer who tweeted a picture of the sign, which was written in English and Arabic, said the store “refused to serve me just because I’m a woman and asked me to send a man instead”.

In a statement, the shop said: “We are working as quickly as possible as we refurbish our Jarir store, so that we may again welcome all customers in accordance with local customs.”

Read more: Eleven things women in Saudi Arabia cannot do