Monday 16 July 2012

Toronto Muslim street cleric wants law changed for women's attire

According to a Toronto-based Muslim street cleric, Canadian law should be changed to require women to "cover themselves" to prevent sexual assaults.
Al-Haashim Kamena Atanaga, a 33-year-ld convert to Islam who is connected to a group called Muslim Support Network, wrote in an email to the Toronto Sun newspaper,
"[T]he reason these sex attacks are continuously happening is because (of) Canadian laws, which give too much freedom to women" when it comes to how they dress.
"You should take your example from the way Muslim women dress," Atanaga wrote. "Why does (sic) Muslim women who wear long dress and covers (sic) her head aren't targeted for sex attacks?"
Besides the email to the Sun, Atanaga also maintains a web site,, which contains some of the same bile, and plans to distribute paper versions at the downtown corner of Yonge and Dundas.
Atanaga went on to add, "[T]he reason a woman gets raped is because of the way she (dresses)."
According to Atanaga, "Men must cover their body from the navel to the knees. But when praying, he (sic) must also cover his shoulder."
"Women must cover their whole body except the face, hands and feet while inside. But they are also required to cover their whole body including a part of the face while going out, according to the majority of the Madhabs (school of thought)."
Even ignoring Mr. Atanaga's apparent inability to get tense and person right in a sentence, there are numerous faults in both his logic and his attitude.
But it would be a mistake to characterize Atanaga's opinions as typical even of a small fraction of the Muslim population. Moderate Muslim writer Tarek Fatah says Atanaga's view is a stark example of radical Islamic misogyny -- an example of isolated passages extracted from the Qur'an and exaggerated to fit an antiquated, patriarchal ideology.
"This is not about what women wear," says Fatah. "This is about... some Muslim men believing that any woman whose head is uncovered is fair game because she is lustful."
First and foremost, Atanaga ignores the widespread use of rape as a weapon of war, not to mention the ongoing problem of sexual harassment in Egypt, a predominantly Muslim nation. According to a report from the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, 83% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment, and of those surveyed, 70% were wearing veils of some kind, particularly head scarves. Similar cases abound in India and elsewhere.
Second, where does Atanaga (or anyone else, from any religion) get the belief that he has the right to tell anyone of any other belief how to behave?
Third, I think even such extremists as Atanaga would agree that most men do not sexually assault or rape women. Thus, his proposal would tar all men with the same brush.
Fourth, if Mr. Atanaga does not like what he sees, I suggest that he wear a blindfold when out in public.
Finally and perhaps most tellingly, there is abundant evidence that sexual assault and rape are not sex crimes but hate crimes. To that extent, one might consider that Atanaga's own views are helping to foster a hatred of women. Much as the Canadian notion of freedom of speech is curtailed when it comes to the propagation of anti-Semitic bile such as that issued by Ernst Zundel, perhaps the same attitude should be taken towards Mr. Atanaga and those who hold similar beliefs.

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