Roundtable with Chair of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission

Author: Alia Hogben, Executive Director of CCMW

aliaThank you for including our organization, the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, in this discussion with Dr. El- Aiban on Human Rights.

We are very interested in this discussion regarding both Canada as well as the Muslim majority countries.

Muslims have been in Canada since before our Confederation. The first Muslim family registered in the 1871 census came from Scotland and their name appropriately was LOVE. We have since had waves from all parts of the world, and there are now about one million Canadian Muslims.

Our organization, founded in 1982, assists Canadian Muslim women and their families to integrate and participate fully in all aspects of living. Along with this objective we also advocate for an egalitarian interpretation of Islam based on the Islamic values of compassion, social justice and the equality of all.

The other foundational documents which guide us are the Cdn Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

We are proud that in Canada the value of diversity allows us to foster our individual and collective identities.

Although we focus on Canadian Muslim women and girls, we believe that diversity should not lead to segregated communities based on either by religion, ethnicity or race. That is why we collaborate with national and international organizations, within Muslim communities and with groups which uphold human rights for all.

As Canadian Muslims we are worried about the racism and hatred targeting Muslims in Europe and we are saddened by what is happening in the United States.

The consequences of the terrible wars in the Middle East are tragic for all- Muslims and other religious groups. As you know Canada has taken in over 25,000 Syrian refugees.

Along with our concerns for Muslims, we are just as dismayed about other minorities in Muslim majority countries. We cannot protect our rights without also advocating for the rights of others. After all we are minorities in many countries and how can we not reach out to others?

As Canadian Muslims we are deeply affected by what is happening in Muslim majority countries and by the actions of some Muslims.

For example, we are dismayed at the treatment of Christians in Pakistan, atheists in Bangladesh, Yazidis in Iraq, or Bahais in Iran whose human rights are denied.

We hope we can look for compassionate and just leadership from organizations such as yours and from others such as the OIC.