How terrified some have become of causing offence. So terrified that it even precludes the development of a rational argument.
I have been reading the book "Double Jeopardy: Police Abuse of Women in Pakistan" by Dorothy Q Thomas. This was jointly published in 1992 by Women's Rights Project and Asia Watch, divisions of Human Rights Watch. I apologise for using a somewhat obscure title to make a broader political point, but even if the book itself is hard to pick-up now, the text is available online here.
Following the introduction of Islamic law in 1979 by General Zia, the number of women in prison in Pakistan increased from a mere 70 (!) to over 2000. HRW wants to address this, but its own fear and equivocation of articulating what it ostensibly advocates - universal human rights - prevents it from doing so:
"The Hudood Ordinances criminalize, among other things, adultery, fornication and rape, and prescribe punishments for these offenses that include stoning to death, public flogging and amputation. Human Rights Watch has no opposition to Islamic law per se and does not object to laws founded on religion, provided that human rights are respected and the principle of equality before the law is upheld. However, the Hudood laws, as written and applied, clearly conflict with these rights and principles. Not only do they prescribe punishments that are cruel and inhuman under international law, but they clearly discriminate on the basis of gender."
It is worth noting, this is a 'human rights' organisation writing 23 years ago. After an additional two decades of agitation from religious organisations and apologists, and migration from Muslim majority countries to the west, the fence sitting and obsessive desire to avoid causing offence is considerably worse.
Looking at the Human Rights Watch website today, the main article on its home page is a call to illicit financial donations before 2015 closes. Its financial appeal is accompanied by this mission statement:
"Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice."
If so, HRW needs to grow a pair and develop some critique of religiously based legal systems. Sharia seems as good a place as any to start. Until it does, why should anyone donate money to those practising such determined obfuscation?