Maryam Monsef, Canadian minister for women and gender equality, referred to the Taliban as “our brothers” while speaking about Afghanistan’s extremist Islamic movement during a virtual press conference broadcast by the Canadian CPAC channel on Wednesday. The statement stirred considerable controversy in Canada and is just one of a series of problematic statements issued by Monsef, who is of Afghan descent.
Monsef called for the Taliban, which had recently come to power in Afghanistan, to ensure that people can leave the country safely. The religious group has already banned music in the country, women’s voices on television and radio, and restricted women from leaving on trips three days or longer without permission from their husbands.
“I want to take this opportunity to speak with our brothers, the Taliban,” Monsef said in a video conference as it was obvious she hesitated to use this controversial address before she began to speak.
After that, she called on “her brothers” to allow safe and secure passage from Afghanistan to any individual who wants to leave.
“We call on you to immediately stop the violence, the genocide, the femicide, the destruction of infrastructure, including heritage buildings,” she continued.
After a wave of criticism, Monsef, who is a member of the Liberal Party of progressive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, explained that it is common in the Muslim world for men and women to address each other as “brothers and sisters.”
Monsef was born to Afghan parents in Iran who had fled during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Her father was killed on the borders of Afghanistan and Iran, and her mother and family emigrated to Canada later in 1996. Monsef has long falsely claimed to have been born in Afghanistan, which was not revealed until 2016. At the same time, the Canadian government has long pursued a policy of expelling immigrants who provide false information about themselves. However, the case of the already politically-connected Monsef has not resulted in any such action.
Title image: Maryam Monsef, the member of the Liberal Party of Canada and Minister for Women and Gender Equality. (Maryam Monsef/Twitter)