The most prestigious religious institution in the Sunni Muslim world, Al-Azhar mosque, has issued a statement denouncing sexual harassment following recent incidents where people have been attacked trying to stop it.
In a statement on Monday, Azhar said: “We have followed media reports on recently circulated incidents of (sexual) harassment. In some of them the harasser assaulted those who tried to stop him.
“Some sought to make the clothes of a woman or her behavior a pretext to justify the harasser’s terrible crime, as if the woman was responsible for the sin.
“Azhar stresses that harassment is haram and deviant behavior, and whoever commits it is guilty of sin. It is also a repugnant act to normal people, and it is rejected by all laws and religions.”
Azhar asserted that the criminalization of harassment and harassers must be absolute, impartial from any condition or context. Justifying harassment because of the woman’s behavior or clothing expresses a misguided understanding as sexual harassment is an assault against privacy, freedom and dignity.
Azhar called for laws to be enforced that criminalize sexual harassment and punishes it. It also called on the concerned institutions to raise awareness of the forms of harassment and its dangers, urging the media to avoid broadcasting any material that promotes harassment or encourages harassers.