Muslim Cleric Forcing Muslim Dress on Non-Muslims

On a Canadian Muslim Cleric’s Views:
Personal Op-ed
By Abubakar Kasim
Freelance Writer- Canada

Preacher Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana started fantasizing about the need to change Canadian laws pertaining to the dress code of women.

The SUN media has gone to the lowest of the low in its news coverage by creating a sensationalized headline, Muslim street cleric wants to protect Canadian women from sex assault by forcing them to cover up.

A picture of a Muslim man who tried to be creative for trying to impose his twisted beliefs to change the laws of the land and force women to cover up had appeared in the Toronto Sun’s front page Monday July 16.

It was the topic of interest which had reinforced the prevailing negative image of Muslims in general.

The whole fuss was about an email the Toronto Sun claimed to have received from someone who was probably having difficulty sorting out his own life, started speaking up his mind on how to save women from sexual assaults.

Read more about the Islamic perspective:

- Islamic Punishment for Rape

- Is Islam Gender-Biased?

- Western Political System: Disbelief?

- Does Hijab Infringe upon Women’s Liberty?

Not sure whether the street preacher Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana  was trying to pave a way for future sexual predicators to be excused from facing justice, he started fantasizing about the need to change Canadian laws pertaining to the dress code of women.

There would not have been an issue if he had expressed his thoughts as his own – as he is entitled to his opinion anyway and freedom of expression is guaranteed to all Canadians. But he started embarrassing himself and brought shame to the Muslim community when he started talking as a voice of authority of Islam, a religion which he probably knows little about.

He might have forgotten that the dress code to cover modestly is prescribed to both Muslim men and women and non Muslims are excluded from it as there is no compulsion in religion.

He is probably unaware that the purpose of the dress code is not to protect women from rape as both genders are expected to control their desires and lower their gaze and both are accountable for their actions.

His logic that women are to blame for sexual assaults is nothing but a fallacy.

Muslim leaders have condemned his statement and considered it illogical.

“To say that the responsibility for a rape or sexual assault lies with the victim is ridiculous,” Kingston imam Sikander Hashmi stated.

“There’s no question that the sin and the blame for the act… falls on the perpetrator” as reported by the Kingston Whig-Standard on July 17.

If Atangana had studied Islam, Hashmi added, he would have been aware of the religion’s view on individual accountability.

He added that Atangana’s calls for women to cover up are “quite illogical.”

“There are a number of Muslim societies where many Muslims dress in a way that is considered to be modest but nevertheless sexual assault is a major problem,” he said.

Shahina Siddiqui, a prominent Muslim member and executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association (ISSA) also agrees.

“I deal with cases of rape committed by fathers, brothers and uncles within the Muslim community can they blame it on what they are wearing?” she said.

Who is to Blame?

The views expressed by Atangana in trying to blame women for rape is not something new.

Judge Robert Dewar of Winnipeg created a fuss in the country when he claimed that a woman invited an act of rape through her makeup, tube top, high heels and flirting.

Also, as indicated in the Toronto Sun, Const. Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto police officer whom the preacher had praised in his letter to the Toronto Sun has also ended up in hot water after telling students at a York University safety forum in January 2011 that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" if they didn't want to be victimized.

Such logic, however, is far from the truth.  It portrays men as innocent beasts who cannot control themselves and consider them as victims.

When I pass by a car dealership and see luxury cars on display and I get tempted to steal one, should the dealership be blamed for creating temptation on the first place and I should be considered as a victim and get away with the crime?

When I visit financial institutions and see the amount of money being exchanged openly, should the bank be blamed for tempting me to stretch my hand and take a bundle for myself?

Toronto Sun should not have used this lone preacher’s thoughts as an official view of Muslims.

His is not an imam, as indicated by the Kingston Imam Hashemi who said that Antangana should not be taken as an authority on Islam.

“You would assume that if one is a leader, they have a following, and that doesn’t appear to be the case in this situation,” he said, adding that studying the religion is also a given for imams, which Atangana hasn’t appear to have done.

The news would have carried some weight if the individual was a respected member of the community, a scholar or someone who knows what he is talking about.  But the Toronto Sun probably knew that it could hardly find any sane person in the rank of community leadership   who would make such comments.

Who Talks On Behalf of Islam?

As reported by the Kingston’s Whig-Standard, prior to the story making headlines, Hashmi heard from contacts in Toronto that other street preachers were distancing themselves from Atangana.

“He’s just one person with some strange views,” he said.

This tabloid media had,  probably out of desperation in trying to find anything it could get its hand on to portray Muslims as evil, backward, anti-women,  could not let the opportunity slide away  from its hands and used it to target Muslims.

This shows how desperate the SUN is to find materials to show how stupid, crooked minds Muslims are.

The news would have carried some weight if the individual was a respected member of the community, a scholar or someone who knows what he is talking about.  But the Toronto Sun probably knew that it could hardly find any sane person in the rank of community leadership   who would make such comments.

The SUN media has lowered its standard of journalism by sounding the alarm unnecessarily as if the opinion of the preacher represents the voice of the Muslim community.

Mr. Atangana is a lone preacher in downtown Toronto who does not speak on behalf of the community.

In his attempt to create 2-minute fame, Mr. Atanaga has done a great damage to the community’s image by acting foolishly.

It is sad to have preachers like him who lack sensibility, wisdom and knowledge of the faith. Such people do more damage to the religion they try to preach.

If he is not comfortable to see women dressing in different ways, perhaps he should stay away from that area altogether or consider relocating elsewhere where he would not have to look at women.

The Toronto Sun should have played a fair game and not gone that low to blow things out of proportion as if Muslims are taking over the land and are starting to impose their way of thinking on others.

Playing such a level of journalism decreases the value of the newspaper and makes people find it distasteful.

When a respected media entity goes that low, it can prove anything it wants as foolish people are plenty in the market and every community have a lot  of them in their midst.

Related Links:
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Canadian Muslims Feed Needy
Canada Muslims Decry Honor Killing

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