Islamic street preacher Al-Hasshim Kamena Atangana at the intersection of Younge and Dundas. He says North American women should be made to "cover up" as a way of avoiding sexual assault. (Terry Davidson/Toronto Sun)
Terry Davidson, The Toronto SUN
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.
"You should take your example from the way Muslim women dress," he wrote. "Why does (sic) Muslim women who wear long dress and covers her head aren't targeted for sex attacks?"
The clash between western culture and values and the beliefs of some Muslim adherents has been a source of controversy and conflict across North America.
Atangana, who plans to distribute his views on paper in the coming weeks, went on to state that "the reason ... a woman gets raped is because of the way she (dresses)," and suggests that "Toronto (become) the first city in North America to introduce laws that would make it illegal for women to dress provocatively."
If Toronto did this, Atangana said in an interview, other Canadian cities would follow suit.
"If (women) want to prevent being sexually assaulted, they should cover themselves," said Atangana, adding that while he doesn't expect Western women to dress as Muslim women do, they should have a "dress code" and take note of the burka the head scarf and face veil some Muslim females wear.
Atangana says he began planning to distribute his views after a recent spate of sex assaults at York University's Keele campus, and praised Const. Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto police officer who ended up in hot water after telling students at a York University safety forum in January that women should avoid dressing like "sluts" if they didn't want to be victimized.
The website Atangana provided for his group, Muslimsupport.net, is sparsely populated but contains links to other sites that offer advice on conversion to Islam and Islamic dress, including such advice as this:
"Men must cover their body from the navel to the knees. But when praying he 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 taught)."
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.
"This is not about what women wear," Fatah said. "This is about ... some Muslim men believing that any woman whose head is uncovered is fair game because she is lustful...and doesn't belong to the pious (Islamic) sisterhood."