Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s Muslim advisor, says, “Shari’a is just misunderstood.”

Obama’s adviser on Muslim affairs, Dalia Mogahed, has provoked controversy by appearing on a British television show hosted by a member of an extremist group to talk about Sharia Law.

Miss Mogahed, appointed to the President’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships, said the Western view of Sharia was “oversimplified” and the majority of women around the world associate it with “gender justice.”

The White House adviser made the remarks on a London-based TV discussion programme hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut Tahrir party. The group believes in the non-violent destruction of Western democracy and the creation of an Islamic state under Sharia Law across the world. “The portrayal of Sharia has been oversimplified in many cases.”Sharia in its broadest sense is a religious code for living, which decrees such matters as fasting and dressing modestly. However, it has also been interpreted as requiring the separation of men and women.

It also includes the controversial “Hadd offences”, crimes with specific penalties set by the Koran and the sayings of the prophet Mohammed. These include death by stoning for adultery and homosexuality and the removal of a hand for theft. Miss Mogahed admitted that even many Muslims associated Sharia with “maximum criminal punishments” and “laws that… to many people seem unequal to women,” but added: “Part of the reason that there is this perception of Sharia is because Sharia is not well understood and Islam as a faith is not well understood.”

Miss Mogahed, who was born in Egypt and moved to America at the age of five, is the first veiled Muslim woman to serve in the White House. Her appointment was seen as a sign of the Obama administration’s determination to reach out to the Muslim world. She is also the executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, a project which aims to scientifically sample public opinion in the Muslim world. UK TELEGRAPH

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