July 17, 2014
Just before midnight on July 3 a veiled Muslim woman was returning to her home in Paris’s banlieue. As she approached her home two men began to harass her. They began to push and insult her, saying “‘We’re going to make you break Ramadan, we’re going to make you try pork and drink alcohol, we’re going to show you what it is to be a submissive woman,’” the woman reported. “‘One of the two put his foot on my head, while the other kicked my arms and stomach. The one who had the white hat began to straddle my chest’” and exposed himself to her saying “‘this is what a real man looks like.”
They continued to insult her and hit her and sexually harass her. “‘I told them that if they wanted my phone I would give it to them,’” she said. “’The one with the white hat took it and hit it against a railing. Then he threw it on the ground.’” Then one of them tore her veil off her head and “‘pretended to masturbate on it. He told me that from now on that was what my veil was good for. I heard laughter from farther away. The two men turned around and left immediately.’” Shocked, she remained in her house for over a week and has recently submitted a complaint for “sexual assault” and “aggravated violence.”
News Agencies – July 16, 2012
Canadian laws should be changed to require women to “cover themselves” to prevent sexual assaults, says an Islamic street preacher in Toronto. Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana, a 33-year-old Islamic convert, called for legal change in response to recent sex attacks at York University. Atangana is connected with a group called Muslim Support Network and is one of a number of street-corner clerics commonly seen at the Yonge and Dundas Sts. In an e-mail to the Toronto Sun, Atangana said “the 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.
Moderate Muslim writer Tarek Fatah says Atangana’s view is a stark example of radical Islamist misogyny. It is an example, Fatah says, of passages taken from the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book, and exaggerated to fit an antiquated, patriarchal ideology such as that of the Muslim Brotherhood. But Alia Hogben of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women sees things differently: Atangana’s opinions are not as much to do with Islam as much as they reflect a general patriarchal desire among some men to control women.
News Agencies – December 8, 2011
The Supreme Court of Canada will attempt to balance Islamic beliefs against the bedrock elements of a fair trial in a decision of constitutional rights. At the centre of the case is a sexual assault complainant known as N.S., who does not want to testify against two men accused of raping her unless her face is obscured by a religious veil, or niqab.
The defendants assert that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees them the right to confront their accuser and observe her facial nuances as she testifies. However, lawyers for N.S. say facial expressions are frequently misleading and that Islamic rape victims will be reluctant to go to police if they may later be ritually “stripped” in a courtroom. The court case will be decided by just seven of the court’s nine judges because Mr. Justice Michael Moldaver sat on an Ontario Court of Appeal panel that heard the N.S. case earlier this year. (To prevent a tie vote, the court has to drop a second judge from the panel.)
News Agencies – August 24, 2011
A Toronto imam charged with sexual assault travelled under three aliases, the Toronto Police Service has announced. Police allege that Mohammad Masroor, 48, used the name Junaid Salman in Hungary, Austria, Italy and elsewhere in Europe in the early 1990s, may have travelled under the name Abdur Rahim in India, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, and was also known as Abdul Karim Abdul Aziz.
Mr. Masroor was arrested on Aug. 10 and police announced on Aug. 17 that he faced 13 charges, including sexual assault and threatening death, in connection with alleged offences between Nov. 1, 2008, and July 28, 2011. Mr. Masroor taught at the Baitul Mukarram Islamic Society on Danforth Avenue in Scarborough. Mr. Masroor has worked at mosques in Bangladesh, Singapore, Sri Lanka and several countries in Western Europe. He was most recently in Michigan and Florida.
News Agencies – August 17, 2011
Members of a Scarborough, Ontario mosque have expressed shock and disbelief that their “nice” and “humble” religious leader has been charged with a string of sexual assaults. Mohammad Masroor, the imam at the Baitul Mukarram Islamic Society on Danforth Ave., faces 13 charges involving sexual offences and death threats relating to five alleged victims. Police said Masroor, 48, travelled the world before settling in Toronto in 2008, and believe there could be more victims, here and abroad. Abdur Rouf Tarafdar was one of more than a dozen people who vouched for Masroor’s pious character as he left afternoon prayer on Wednesday.
Masroor was arrested Aug. 10 after a three-week investigation that is still ongoing. The assaults allegedly occurred between Nov. 1, 2008 and July 28, 2011. Masroor taught in Florida, Michigan and Bangladesh before coming to Canada, according to police. He has also lived and taught in Germany, France, Hungary, Singapore and Sri Lanka but police said the investigation is not limited to those areas.
Members of the mosque were especially upset that the allegations come during the holy month of Ramadan. Police said Masroor is being held in custody, and that a publication ban is in place.
In this opinion piece former Muslim Canadian Congress president Farzana Hassan posits that the niqab looms large over an Ontario court as a symbol of Islamist oppression of Muslim women. She is responding to a current debate in the Canadian courts. The Ontario Court of Appeal is debating a test case of a Muslim sexual-assault complainant who insists on remaining both invisible and anonymous, yet needs to testify in court. The woman enjoys support from a motley group of activists who are citing her right to religious freedom. For instance, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) cautions against using this case to set a precedent, the feminist group wants the court to accommodate the woman’s request.
Hassan describes the niqab as a symbol of deep-rooted sexism, patriarchal control and inveterate misogyny. She claims it remains the most pernicious symbol of female subjugation, as many believe the niqab greatly stigmatizes and marginalizes women in society.
Trouw reports on an announcement by the UMC Utrecht that it will offer special services for Turkish and Moroccan girls and young women who have experienced sexual attacks. According to the National Psycho-Trauma Center for Children and Youth, these girls rarely seek professional help. None of the 250 assaulted and raped girls between 13-15 years old who turned to the center in 2005 was of Turkish or Moroccan origin, though sexual violence is as common among this group. The National Psycho-Trauma Center will visit schools, community centers and mosques at the beginning of the school year in order to bring Turkish and Moroccan girls who have been raped to the center.
Permitting alleged victims or any witness to wear a veil while testifying would fundamentally change core principles in the Canadian justice system, an Ontario Superior Court judge was told yesterday. Defense lawyer Jack Pinkofsky claimed that, “The face of justice cannot be faceless.” Superior Court Justice Frank Marrocco has been asked to decide whether an alleged victim in a sexual-assault case in Toronto will be permitted to testify while wearing her niqab.
The provincial court judge presiding over the preliminary hearing of the two defendants ruled last fall that the woman’s religious beliefs were not that strong and ordered her to remove the veil. She refused and was granted the right to appeal the decision to the Superior Court. The Criminal Code permits witnesses such as alleged sexual-assault victims or children to testify by video or behind a one-way screen. In both situations, the defense lawyer and accused can see the witness. The woman’s lawyer explained that this would not be acceptable for his client because men could see her without the veil. The hearing is set to continue on April 3.