by Anthony Furey
A Toronto Muslim cleric’s comments that laws should make women cover up to avoid rape disgusted me. But what’s going to sicken me more is the silence of the left.
Al-Haashim Kamena Atangana, a street preacher, thinks Canadian laws “give too much freedom to women.” Excuse me? We need more freedoms for everyone, regardless of gender.
But something tells me he won’t be criticized by the feminist organizations. Or by any of the so-called progressives. No. They’ll just ignore it.
Yet silence wasn’t what happened last year when in January Toronto Const. Michael Sanguinetti told a York University class that “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” The officer’s remarks were sharply criticized by most people – including Toronto chief Bill Blair.
His comments also spurred the now international phenomenon known as SlutWalk. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in cities across the world to decry Const. Sanguinetti’s comments.
Is Atangana going to be the next object of the SlutWalk organizers’ denouncements? I doubt it.
SlutWalk is only interested in easy targets. They want knee-jerk responses, simple for people to adopt, that don’t require any thinking. After all, the original SlutWalks weren’t about Sanguinetti in particular, so much as what his comments symbolized. To many, he symbolized how the media, police, the law and more were involved in victim-blaming and rape culture.
Both Sanguinetti and Atangana were solitary people who possess a limited audience. We can argue that neither of them are worth spilling much ink over. However Sanguinetti didn’t argue to change the laws, he wasn’t of a mindset promoting sexist theocracy and his comments were not – as his chief made clear – indicative of his organization as a whole. The opposite applies to Atangana. While not every Muslim cleric shares his views, they are shared by many in Canada and by many, many more in Arab states, where women are legally inferior to men.
Sanguinetti was met with SlutWalks because of his poorly chosen words about dressing modestly. Where were the SlutWalks for the Shafia girls? They were murdered because of their ‘immodest’ ways. Where were the SlutWalks for Nazanin Fatehi? She’s the Iranian youth sentenced to death (released after a re-trial) because she defended herself and her 15-year-old niece from a rape. That is victim-blaming. That is rape culture. And that is what Atangana is promoting.
Last April I wrote a column denouncing SlutWalk. Not because I supported Sanguinetti. Because even back then I knew the event was all about low-hanging fruit. I took issue with the idea that ‘the media’ – of which I am a member – is somehow promoting the mass rape of Canadian women. It was never going to help real victims of sexual assault. It was simply an opportunity for people in a very liberal society to feel good about themselves by protesting something vague.
People wrote many blogs, letters and e-mails attacking me. One line particularly got their ire up: “Do a SlutWalk in Saudi Arabia and then you’ll earn your stripes.” Stand up for the women all across the world who are victimized – raped, tortured, murdered – because of the very laws Atangana is proposing.
I know the line angered them because, deep down inside, they knew I was right. Yet now they have the chance to prove me wrong. They can speak out against Atangana, who represents widespread misogyny far more than Sanguinetti does. Go ahead. We’re waiting. Your victimized sisters across the world, seriously in need of your help, are also waiting.