Toronto

Toronto police chaplain under fire for women's 'obedience' comments to stay with force for now

A Toronto police chaplain under fire for comments made about women's "obedience" to their husbands will continue to serve with the force for the time being, CBC News has learned.

Musleh Khan met recently with Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders

Musleh Khan drew ire from critics including the Toronto police union and the Canadian Council of Muslim Women over comments he made in a 2013 webinar for Muslim couples. (Musleh Khan/Facebook)

A Toronto police chaplain under fire for comments made about women's "obedience" to their husbands will continue to serve with the force for the time being, CBC News has learned.

Musleh Khan met recently with Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders, and "would like an opportunity to be heard by members of the Toronto Police Service," spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told CBC News on Friday. 

"We will be facilitating that opportunity. In the meantime, he continues as a volunteer chaplain," Grey said. 

The force would not comment further. 

Khan drew ire on Tuesday from critics including the Toronto police union and the Canadian Council of Muslim Women over comments he made in a 2013 webinar for Muslim couples. 

'Thorough background check'

In the almost hour-long seminar — called The Heart of the Home: the Rights and Responsibilities of a Wife — Khan appears to imply a wife must make herself sexually available and "not withhold this right from her husband without a valid excuse," such as sickness or obligatory fasting. 

I don't think it's a matter of misinterpretation.— Alia Hogben , Canadian Council of Muslim Women

He adds refusal is, according to some Islamic scholars, considered "a major sin."

Khan also describes a wife's other duties and rights in the video.

The video was posted on the YouTube page for Pure Matrimony, a dating site that aims at "practising single Muslims."

It had police union president Mike McCormarck asking how the Toronto Police Service vets its chaplains, and how the comments reflected on the force as a whole.

"It's difficult enough having these comments out there in 2016 in a country and in a city that doesn't support this type of position," he said Tuesday.

The head of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women also came out against Khan, calling his comments "appalling."

"I read what he said and I don't think it's a matter of misinterpretation," said executive director Alia Hogben. "I think it's his opinion and unfortunately he's expressing things that sound very anti-women and anti-girls."

Gray said in an earlier email to CBC News, that Khan, like other civilian members of the force, went through a "thorough background check" that includes checks of family, friends and a "review of social media footprint." 

'Imprecise translation'

Khan has said his comments were taken out of context, and that the Arabic term he translated as "obedience" denotes loyalty and devotion.

"I realize how someone unfamiliar with this nuance can misunderstand my imprecise translation to mean something different to my intended meaning, and the meaning that I know my audience at the time understood clearly," Khan told CBC News in a statement Tuesday.

Nevertheless, he said he appreciated the criticism and would "be more mindful in clarifying my steadfast support of women's equality," adding he remained ready to serve with the force.

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