Regarding Oct. 12th’s letter to the editor from Imam Muhammad Afzal Mirza of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, I feel compelled to respond to Imam Mirza’s letter in which he writes to correct an alleged misreport by The Terrace Standard.
In his letter, Imam Mirza defends the wearing of the Hijab, also known as a veil, by Muslim women. He begins by elaborating on the wisdom of the Islamic dress code and in particular the Hijab’s ability to preserve modesty and to act as a protective garb.
It is Imam Mirza’s emphasis on safety that draws my attention and has prompted this letter.
Imam Mirza warns that without the Hijab, Muslim women would be inviting trouble. He states that the “Islamic dress code is for the safety and security of women” and that Islam “prescribes for women to cover themselves modestly from head to toe to avoid any unpleasant situation.”
I am alarmed by these statements and am left with the question, of whom should Muslim women be afraid?
Unfortunately I conclude that Muslim women should be afraid of individuals who hold these kinds of extremist views.
Thankfully, in Canada all women (and men), regardless of their faith are protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The “right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof . . .” are legal rights that fall under the charter.
It is not the Islamic dress code that entitles one to protection under the law, it is our Canadian citizenship.
To suggest otherwise is to attempt to undermine this Charter and discredit the sacrifices hard won by generations of Canadians who came before us and those who continue to fight for our rights and freedoms we enjoy today.
I have a few suggestions for Imam Mirza and other like-minded individuals. For starters, take some time to familiarize yourselves with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Secondly, endeavour to change the misogynistic attitudes toward women that appear to necessitate the use of the Hijab for maintaining respect for and safety of Muslim women.
And thirdly, if all else fails, for those individuals who continue to feel entitled to deny Muslim women their rights as Canadian citizens, that a chaperone be assigned to them to keep them out of trouble.
I suggest a wise person such as a great aunt who has lived too long and knows too much to abide such nonsense.