To those who very harshly and quickly judge hijab as a symbol of oppression of women, I ask: When you see a nun in her habit, what do you think of that - is that a symbol of oppression or a dress that demands dignity and respect? The habit of a nun is a complete hijab. Why then the double standard? Is this not cultural imperialism? When a Catholic nun dresses in that way, she becomes dignified, but when a Muslim woman dresses in that way, she becomes the symbol of oppression?! In Islam, we want that dignity and respect for each and every Muslim woman, not only a few selected ones who have decided to serve the cause of their faith.

I salute those Muslim women who have found the courage in themselves to observe hijab in this non-Muslim society, and I strongly urge their male-counterparts to appreciate women’s great contribution in being at the forefront in the struggle to carve out a niche for Islam in the multicultural society of Canada.

One last thing that I must say is that in spite of all the talk about suppression of rights of women in Muslim societies, we have had three countries in the world of Islam—Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh—which have had female Prime Ministers. Against this track record, the United States of America or Canada have not yet shown that openness for the advancement of women where a lady could be elected for a full term as a President or Prime Minister. I think that says a lot about Islam and the Muslims.