Open Letter to Soumia Allalou and McGill University

gender_equality_2Open letter to Soumia Allalou and McGill University.

Ms. Allalou;

While I can understand your point of view, as a student of law, you, above everyone should understand the need for equality. 

You are young and are perhaps distanced from the struggles of Canadian women to gain equal status in our country. Religion was the foundation of the subjugation of women in our country’s history.

McGill is a public university and as a public university it must represent Canadian rights and freedoms for all. This does include you. You have the right to exercise without someone ogling you and if someone is making you uncomfortable by inappropriate gestures or words, then you have the right to seek the assistance of the gym administration.

If exercising in the company of the male gender is contrary to your religious beliefs, then I’m sorry but that is on you. It is not up to a public university to conform to the dogma/theories of a particular religion. The university must be above this and stand for equality. Equality does not mean you are entitled to segregated gym time or area.

Religious choice and restrictions are personal and have no place in the public domain.

Let us, as an example, examine the lives of Canadians who leave this country for temporary work abroad; Saudi is an excellent example. As a Canadian woman, in that country, I would be obligated to abide by Saudi law. This means I would have to relinquish my Canadian rights to those of my host country. I would have to accept this.

Canada is a country of freedom for all of us – men as well as women. You do have your freedom; if you are uncomfortable in the gym, you have the freedom to go elsewhere. You do not have the right to dictate the operation of this public facility based on your personal choice of how you interpret your religion.

We narrowly escaped a xenophobic bill of law by the Parti Quebecois, whereby you would lose your right to wear a hijab which does not intrude on the rights of anyone else. It was a horrific bill. By insisting that a public facility conforms to your personal interpretation of your religion, you have managed to bolster any future attempt to table this bill.

Ms. Allalou, you must learn and understand the fine line between freedom and personal choice. Personal choice cannot be used to control actions within the rule of law. Canadian law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender; you are proposing just that – discrimination.
Do not use your religious choice to justify the action. You are wrong in this. Very, very wrong.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Open Letter to Soumia Allalou and McGill University

  1. Actually, the Cote-des-Neiges sports center on Van Horne Avenue has a few hours a week for men and women to swim separately. It is meant for both religious Muslims and ultra-orthodox Jews.

    Bains libres Hiver
    5 janvier au 1 mars 2015
    Piscine Côte-des-Neiges
    · Les enfants de moins de 8 ans doivent être
    accompagnés d’une personne de 16 ans et plus.
    · Vous devez avoir la carte de membre gratuite
    pour avoir accès aux baignades.
    LUNDI
    11h30-12h25 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    19h30-20h25 Pour tous (tremplin ouvert)*
    20h30-21h25 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    MARDI
    07h30-08h15 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    11h30-12h25 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    20h30-21h25 Femmes et filles
    MERCREDI
    11h30-12h25 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    20h30-21h25 Hommes et garçons
    JEUDI
    07h30-08h15 Pour tous (tremplin ouvert)
    11h30-12h25 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    19h30-20h25 Pour tous (tremplin ouvert)*
    20h30-21h25 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    VENDREDI
    11h30-12h25 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    19h30-20h25 Pour tous (tremplin ouvert)*
    20h30-21h25 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    SAMEDI
    16h00-16h55 Pour tous (tremplin ouvert)*
    17h00-17h55 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    DIMANCHE
    13h00-13h50 Femmes et filles*
    14h00-14h55 Hommes et garçons
    15h00-15h55 Pour tous (tremplin ouvert)*
    16h00-16h55 Adultes avec longueur (16+)
    *PATAUGEOIRE OUVERTE :
    LUNDI, JEUDI, VENDREDI : 19H30-20H25
    SAMEDI : 16H00-16H55
    DIMANCHE : 13H00-13H50 ET 15H00-15H55

    • And I do not agree with it, Jack. Religion is a personal choice; if it interferes with public interaction, then it is on the individual, not society, to find a solution without infringing on the rights of the majority. The time has come for a secular society, Schools funded by public money, community centers, public recreational facilities – no restrictions based on religion. No more special considerations based on race, creed or colour. The world has become a very small place and there is only room for one dogma, one creed, one belief and that is the future of humanity as a whole, not a humanity broken down into small groups. We don’t have that luxury anymore. We either all work as a collective species or we face eventual extinction.

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