I usually stay away from discussing news stories. There are a million places to read the news online, who needs to hear my opinion? But I can’t let this one go by unremarked.

Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali is Australia’s leading Muslim cleric. Last month, while discussing the causes of sexual assault, Hilali pretty much singlehandedly set the image of Islam in Australia back about 100 years. As reported in this news article:

“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside … without cover, and the cats come to eat it … whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s?” Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali was quoted as saying in a sermon to some 500 worshippers in Sydney last month.

“The uncovered meat is the problem,” he was quoted as saying in The Australian newspaper.

“If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred,” he said, referring to the headdress worn by some Muslim women.

Hilali also criticized women who “sway suggestively” and wear cosmetic makeup, implying they attracted sexual attack.

“Then you get a judge without mercy… and gives you 65 years,” he added.

You see? It’s all so simple. If you women would just stay in your homes and wear a veil and headscarf, you wouldn’t be enticing those poor helpless men to rape you. It’s clearly all your fault.

I’m not so naive as to believe that Hilali represents all of Islam, or even a majority of muslims. But I do think that Islam needs to decide if this is the image they want to present to the world, and act accordingly.