On the occasion of the International Women’s Day (March 8, 2017), activists with Suffragette held a protest against Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, in front of her constituency office in Peterborough, Ontario.
The protesters slammed Monsef for her silence over explicit and repeated expressions of misogyny by Canadian religious leaders, including the imam of Peterborough mosque who said in a sermon that “the wife has always to respond to her husband’s call to bed (“to satisfy his desire”)… avoid suspicious behavior such as talking to other men, and to serve her husband.” The husband, according to Imam Shazim Khan, should take care of all his wife’s needs and to prevent his wife from having a job outside home unless there is necessity. To read “Women’s rights according to the Imam of Peterborough mosque and his guest speakers” click HERE.
Sandra Solomon, an ex-Muslim human rights activist, read the following letter before handing it out to Monsef’s Secretary (some minors typos were corrected in editing):
Dear Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women
My name is Sandra Solomon. I’m an ex-Muslim human rights activist who was born to Palestinian parents and raised in Saudi Arabia.
I am a victim of Islam. I was forced to follow the teachings of the Sharia Law that discriminates against women. Many times I was severely beaten and was not allowed to leave home just because I refused to wear the niqab. My bother attempted to strangle me to death in a “honor” killing after he caught me speaking with a boy. My grandmother who happened to stay at our home that day saved my life. Later I was forced to get married. I was not married for almost five years. I was raped for almost five years.
Today, I am a free and a proud woman. But the achieving my personal freedom in Canada is not the end of my journey. It is only the first stage. I have a dream and a mission to inspire other oppressed women from all faiths and backgrounds to break free from the shackles of religion.
In 1969, throwing the bras to the “Freedom trash can” was a symbol of liberation for a new generation of women who fought for equality.
Today we face more complicated challenges. Progressive and liberal movements adopted the Islamic hijab and niqab as their symbol of liberation.
As a woman who grew up in a country governed by the Islamic Law (Sharia) I can attest that the hijab and niqab are NOT a symbol of liberation. The opposite is true!
In Canada women ARE FORCED to wear these full body grabs to conceal their femininity. It is not just a face scarf. The hijab and the niqab have to cover the whole body, leaving only a narrow slot for a woman to be exposed to the sun. Even in the most hottest days of the summer women must cover themselves from head to toe. This is NOT liberation. This is OPPRESSION!
Last week we stood for a moment of silence to commemorate the Canadian victims of the hijab:
Asqa Parvez, 17 year old from Mississauga, who was strangled to death by her father just because she refused to wear the hijab.
The Shafia sisters (Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, Geeti, 13) from Ottawa who were drown to death by their father, mother and brother just because they wanted to break free from the jail of the hijab and niqab and become free women.
Today, on the International Women’s Day (March 8), we MUST remember ALL female victims of religion from all faiths and cultures, those who lost their lives and those whose lives are lost in the name of the so-called ancient holy scriptures.
We also MUST encourage them to BREAK FREE to GET RID OF ANY CLOTH THAT OBSCURE OR CONCEAL YOUR IDENTITY AND SOUL, to BE A PROUD AND A FREE WOMAN and to FIGHT FOR THE FREEDOM OF YOUR OPPRESSED SISTERS!
I did it. I am free. However, when I hear the same misogynistic voices here in Canada, the nightmare is relived and I fear for those miserable women who are still prisoners of religion.
Let me share with you some of the Islamic teachings of senior religious leaders, or imams here in Canada.
Canada’s top Imam, Iqbal Al-Nadvi – “Quran says… you can beat [your wife]”
Imam Bilal Philips, Toronto – “Islamic Law does permit a husband to hit his wife”
Imam Houssein Amer, Montreal – Wife “beating in Islam is a type of education”
Imam Omar Subedar, Ontario – “Allah has permitted the husband to discipline his wife by striking her [lightly]”
Imam Musleh Khan, Toronto – “Wife should be obedient to her husband at all times”; “Wife is obliged to serve her husband”
Imam Ahmed Kandil, Montreal said that the wife has to obey her husband when he calls her to bed.
Imam Shazim Khan, Peterborough, Ontario said that the wife should obey the husband when asking her to “satisfy his desire”.
Imam Abdi Hersy, Alberta – “Husband has to give orders and wife has to obey him”; “Wife cannot leave the house without husband’s permission”
Free books that were handed out at the Islamic booth at Toronto’s Dundas Square: “Islam permits the beating of wives in a restricted and limited sense”; “Some women may even enjoy being beaten at times as a sign of love and concern”
WE SAY NO!
WIFE BEATING IS NOT A SIGN OF LOVE!
WIFE BEATING IS HATE!
WIFE BEATING IS VIOLENCE!
WIFE BEATING IS A CRIME!
On July 1st on Canada’s 150th anniversary we are going to celebrate the freedom with the launch of the national BURN HIJAB DAY that will serve as a source of inspiration for women from all faiths and cultures to take their fate in their hands and achieve the freedom they deserve.
Dear Honourable Maryam Monsef, we need your help and support. We need your voice and moral stand against these misogynistic religious leaders. In your capacity as a Minister of Status of Women you have the power to confront them, to serve as a guide for Canadians and a defender of women’s basic rights.
We ask you to publicly condemn Canada’s top imam who condones wife beating and to call for removing Toronto Police’s chaplain from office following his statement that marrying 9 year old girl is permissible.
Dear Honourable Maryam Monsef, till today your voice on these highly important issues was not heard. We want to see you leading the movement for women’s rights. But if you choose to remain silent while Canadian women are oppressed, degraded, beaten and murdered we will NOT be silent and hold you accountable.