Cleric in hijab rape claim
Sheik Taj Aldin al Hilali - considered the most senior Islamic leader by many Muslims in Australia and New Zealand - denied he was condoning rape when he made the comments in a sermon.
Hilali said: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside ... without cover, and the cats come to eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s?
“The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.”
He apologized to any women he had offended, saying they were free to dress as they wished.
It is not the first time the cleric has triggered a controversy. In 2004 he caused outrage when he said the Sept. 11 attacks were “God’s work against the oppressors.”
Hilali said later he did not mean that he supported the attacks, or terrorism.
The row comes during the heated debate John Reid started this month when he asked for female British Muslims to remove the veil.
Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward said Hilali’s comment was an incitement to rape and that Australia’s Muslims should force him to stand down.
“This is inciting young men to a violent crime because it is the woman’s fault,” Goward Australian TV. “It is time the Islamic community did more than say they were horrified. I think it is time he left.”
Aussie Prime Minister John Howard also rejected the comments as unacceptable.
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