Australia

Australian imam issued an open threat of violence if headscarf laws not changed

Imam-Tawhidi

The founder of the fledgling Islamic Association of South Australia (IASA) has warned a lack of tolerance could spark violence, after a man who allegedly grabbed a woman’s headscarf was released on bail.

The imam of IASA, who goes by the name Shaikh M Tawhidi, today released a statement saying he feared a day “where the Muslim community might take matters into their own hands to protect their women and mothers”.

SA Police today arrested and charged a 27-year-old man from Kilburn in Adelaide’s inner-north with assault and offensive behaviour on a passenger vehicle.

They alleged he grabbed a young woman’s headscarf as she got on a bus at Churchill Road on March 16 and intimidated her for the rest of the bus journey into the city.

Police said the woman was not physically injured and the man was bailed to appear in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court on April 18.

Mr Tawhidi said imams were striving “hard to reform the Muslim community of SA into a tolerant community”.

He said the alleged incident on the bus had provoked him to make a statement, warning the Australian Government to review its laws on headscarves.

“Kilburn, Prospect and surrounding areas have a large Muslim population,” said the imam, who arrived in South Australia recently.

“If government laws do not prevent such assaults, then I fear that a day will come where the Muslim community might take matters into their own hands to protect their women and mothers.

“It is actions like these, and non-strategic rulings that could spark a reaction from the affected families that will result in violence.”

Mr Tawhidi founded the association this year and its membership is unknown..

A spokesperson for the SA Government said all citizens who were victims of assault “should expect that the perpetrator be punished according to the law”.

“The Government does not condone people taking the law into their own hands,” he said.

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