CALGARY - Three Calgary Muslim women have filed a human rights complaint against a local imam, alleging they were treated unfairly at a recent meeting.
Qasira Shaheen, Robina Butt and Shugufta Iftikhar say they were discriminated against by Syed Soharwardy at an open house in November at the Al-Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre.
"We were discriminated against as women and were treated poorly, differently, negatively and adversely," they wrote in the complaint, filed in December with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
They claim they weren't allowed to ask questions, were physically and verbally threatened, were made to sit in the back of the hall and were eventually forced to leave.
Shaheen said the women attended the meeting to ask questions about donations made to the mosque.
She said the women decided to launch the complaint because they feel they were treated unfairly and "differently from men" at the meeting.
"It's just to get justice," she said.
The incident at the centre was videotaped and a DVD was included with the human rights complaint.
Soharwardy was unavailable for comment on Saturday.
However, he is quoted in the Washington Times, a daily newspaper in Washington D.C., as denying any abuses and saying he supports women's rights in Canada's Islamic community.
He alleged the women's husbands - his "enemies in the mosque" - put them up to the complaint.
Iftikhar's husband, Iftikhar Ahmed, who was at the meeting, said the complaint was necessary to protect women's rights in the local Muslim community. He said he supports the women's actions.
"There's not any difference for women," he said. "I just want (Soharwardy) in the general public to apologize to the women."
As well, Butt's husband, Najeeb Butt, added he has no personal fight against Soharwardy.
"These women had serious questions about the mosque committee and possible misuse of funds. And they were not permitted to participate as equal members of the Muslim community."
Monday, February 4, 2008
Posted by CG at 2/04/2008 10:17:00 AM