Hijab, Chador, Niqab and Burqa…Oh my…

Is it me? Am I seeing a line between rights and choice that doesn’t exist? There is a controversy, currently, in Montreal, involving a young Muslim woman and her request for “Women Only” hours at a university gym. Public, not a private, university. I covered it, briefly, in my previous blog.

This is a particular situation and the particulars should be addressed without hauling in other garbage to sully the waters. Case in point; Muslim women and their choice of clothing. How, on this earth, is what a woman wears anyone’s business? It doesn’t infringe on the rights of others, it doesn’t impact anyone else’s lifestyle or enjoyment thereof.

A woman was thrown out of a Quebec courtroom for wearing a hijab. Inexcusable. The judge exposed herself for what she is; a bigot who has no place in a court of law.

Another woman created a kafuffle because she wore a niqab when she was to be granted citizenship. This one required a little more mental debate on my part – on the one hand, this woman was requesting the privilege of becoming a Canadian citizen but refused to show her face, instead, preferring to cling to a custom of her homeland. I can see the body covering but not the veil. Canadians have the right to see the face of someone who has requested to join our society.

The veil is a metaphor for an exclusion from Canadian society. So, I leave this one up to greater minds. Personally, I would allow a chador, a hijab but a burqa or niqab? No. It is, symbolically, an opposition to Canada and our view of freedom. An individual asking to be a part of our country must be sympathetic and understanding of the values of the nation. Taking an oath of citizenship is a solemn promise to uphold Canadian values; the burqa and niqab contravene those values from a Canadian perspective.

Once citizenship has been granted, right after the ceremony, the woman has the right to done the veil once again, as a Canadian. It is her personal choice.

As long as a garment is not offensive (swear words, obscene graphics/photos), then really? What is your problem?? Personally, I am more offended by women who show up in a workplace with their boobs and hoo-hahs on display but that’s my deal. If it doesn’t impact on the work responsibilities? Then, it is up to me to deal with it.

Why, according to some knuckle-draggers, should the hijab or even the burqa be banned? On a purely selfish note, there are days when I would give my right arm to wear one or the other… Let me tell you something, wearing a hijab is quite the skill.

The odious Parti Quebecois (a xenophobic political party in Quebec) tried to pass something they euphemistically referred to as Bill 60 – Quebec Charter of Values. In my mind, Adolf Hitler and his crew would have been proud. It was disgusting. It was racist and it was unacceptable to most Quebecois as was evidenced as the party was turfed out, by a huge margin, when the election came around. Thankfully prior to the Bill being passed. The Liberal Party chucked it to the curb.

A call for women to stand in solidarity with Islamic women was put out, when the contents of this bill were made public; women were asked to wear a hijab in support for Islamic women. I tried. I even went to YouTube to learn how…I wanted to show my solidarity, even though I am a huge opponent of any organized religion…this was about a right to wear what one chooses to work, to play, to obtain public services. The bill would have, effectively, removed that right. So, I pulled out one of my scarves and I put it on my head, I tried to follow what the young woman on the video was doing. I bobby pinned, I tried to tame my hair, I wound the scarf, I tried to tuck it in and ordered it to stay in place. It refused. It slid over my eyes, it slid down the back of my head…the bobby pins fell out, when it did agree to sit on my head for a few seconds, wisps of hair kept appearing out of nowhere. It fell down, it slid over, it slid up, it slid sideways and after, over an hour, of trying to win the battle of the scarf; I had to admit to a humiliating defeat. I stand in awe of my Muslim girlfriends. Aqeela, Unum…you rock, ladies. I am not trying to be facetious; while I was fighting the battle of the scarf – it struck me that every time a woman dons a hijab, she is thinking of her faith, she is making a conscious effort to uphold her faith, her values. It is a daily act of devotion. It is so laudable. And there are more than a few people out there, who claim to be faithful to their belief system, who should take careful notes of this type of devotion. It’s one thing to claim faith, it is another thing to commit to it.

Quebec’s (cough, gag, yak) Charter of Values would have displaced Muslim, Jewish and Sikh doctors, nurses, educators, caregivers and other public sector employees. These people would have been denied their right to wear items that was representative of their religion. And why? Do these items interfere with their ability to do their jobs? No. Would it impact students, patients or the public if a doctor, lawyer, teacher was wearing a kippa, a hijab or a pagri? No. This was a blatant act of a racism by a neo-fascist government body.

The writing of this charter is one of the many reasons I am leaving Quebec, within the next few months. I can’t stand to live in a society that elects and promotes a party of this kind. My right, as a Canadian, says that I can move. I can leave this province and its thinly veiled Nazi mindset behind.

What an individual chooses to wear is their personal right and choice as long as it doesn’t endanger anyone, as long as it does not infringe on the rights of others. To argue otherwise is a glamour used to cover racism. We all have the right to religion, we all have the right to believe, with that said, however, we do not have the right to use our religion to infringe on the rights of others, as is the case with Ms. Allalou. I applaud her devotion but she must learn that her religion is her personal choice and like Bill 60 to demand that others give up their rights in order to fulfil an individual choice is wrong and contrary to living in a society based on personal rights and freedoms.


Filed under Whatnot

3 responses to “Hijab, Chador, Niqab and Burqa…Oh my…

  1. Barbara Mainville

    There is actually nothing in the Quran about covering the face. The niqab/veil is a cultural habit that originated from living in the desert.

    • Some people believe the garb is in keeping with their personal interpretation of their faith; this makes it a part of their belief system. The New Testament did not maintain that Catholic nuns and priests wear their habits and robes either but they did and some still do.

  2. Pingback: The Dress Code for Women in the Quran | Stepping Toes

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