Melbourne’s Muslim women have rejected cleric Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilaly’s belief that women who don’t wear Islamic headdress make themselves targets for predatory men.
Zainab Sargeant said she and her husband were outraged when they heard about the sheik’s comments, because they created more problems for Muslims.
“He has gone too far,” she said.
“It’s women’s choice. I think he should back up.
“He should just let people have their own opinion and live their own life.”
Maryam Abdou said it was her choice to dress and behave as her religion dictated, but people should not dictate what was right for others.
“Everyone to their own. When we eventually all die . . . we all have to answer for what we have done,” she said.
Aysha Mourad said everyone had the right to dress as they wanted.
“They should not be judged on what they wear, and he should apologise for what he said,” she said.
Speaking with the help of her husband translating, Fredi Mhsan said she chose to wear the hijab for religious reasons, but she did not believe it protected her or other Muslim women from predatory men or that non-Muslim women made themselves targets by what they wore.
“Sometimes women being covered can still be a target and attractive to other people and sometimes women are not covered but they are not a target,” she said.
Sameh Abou-aid said she could understand Sheik Hilaly’s point of view, but believed women should be able to choose how they dressed.
“There is some merit to what he said, but maybe it does downgrade us a bit in the community,” she said.
“I think that as a Muslim person, everyone should be entitled to what they want to wear. Australia gives us the choice to live however we want to live.”
Kawdhar Karin said the sheik was a great man who had done a lot for Muslims: “Sometimes women do make themselves targets.”
But Selma Tarkam disagreed. “It is up to individuals. I think he should apologise,” she said.