(January 12, 2012) – Stunned by an alleged honour killing, Canadian Muslims are joining an international campaign to fight domestic violence in their country.
“We are hoping the raise awareness about domestic violence in Canada with the White Ribbon Days,” Afaun Mandol, a spokesperson for Muslim Presence Toronto, told OnIslam.net.
“The White Ribbon Campaign is a means to start the conversation in our community to challenge everyone to speak out, and think about their own personal beliefs, language and actions.”
The WRC aims to empower men and boys to speak out against all forms of violence against women.
The campaign gained momentum among Canadian Muslims following a call by Muslim groups and leaders to end domestic violence in the country.
“Domestic violence and, in the extreme, practices such as killing to “restore family honour” violate clear and non-negotiable Islamic principles, and so we categorically condemn all forms of domestic violence,” the Muslim groups said in a statement titled “Call to Action to Eradicate Domestic Violence”.
The call was issued in the midst of a high-profile trial taking place in Kingston, Ontario, in which Afghan-born Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife, and their 21-year-old son were accused by the prosecution of “honour killings” in the death of his first wife and three daughters.
“The Shafia family murder trial has caused anger, disbelief and sadness in those following it – Canadian Muslims along with everyone else,” wrote Sikander Ziad Hashmi, Imam at the Islamic Society of Kingston, in an editorial.
“Domestic violence, and even killing in the name of honour, is a problem that cuts across geographic boundaries and ethnicities,” he said.
“Such killings have been committed by members of other faiths, even in Canada.”
As part of the campaign, imams across Canada gave sermons on December 9 condemning domestic violence and honour-based killings.
The following day, the White Ribbon campaign, in which men undertook a pledge against domestic violence, was launched in Toronto’s Muslim community.
The campaign was also taken to the “Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention”, which ran from December 23 to December 25 in Toronto.
Professor Tariq Ramadan, one of the world’s leading Muslim intellectuals, added his voice to the campaign during his speech at the convention with strong and forceful words condemning domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is unacceptable; stop it,” said Ramadan. “You who are beating women and listening to these talks, if you don’t stop it, then this is all for nothing.”
Attendees at the convention were also asked to take a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls and wear a white ribbon to signal their commitment to the campaign.
“We were particularly interested in reaching out to men and boys during the convention,” Mandol told OnIslam.net.
The campaign is also planned to be launched among the Muslim communities in the cities of Ottawa and Montreal to coincide with the International Women’s Day on Thursday, March 8.
Other Islamic organizations are planning educational programs on family issues.
A Toronto-based web portal, TorontoMuslim.com, has also partnered with the Muslim Presence Network to launch a site that will list resources and links to local agencies and centres that provide support to victims of domestic violence in the Greater Toronto Area.
“Our mission is to raise awareness, to educate, to advocate and to take action to end domestic violence, as part of our pledge to the Call to Action to Eradicate Domestic Violence statement,” stated TorontoMuslims.com.