Hijabis in Quebec Ball So Hard, International Women’s Day Solidarity

HIJABISQC Outburst 2014 International Women’s Day Poster by the brilliant Autumn Crossman. Join us in sending solidarity & love to our sisters in Quebec. #IWD2014

We stand in solidarity with our Quebec Muslims sisters and other religious minorities who are experiencing daily micro aggressions, violence and isolation as a result of the proposed Quebec Charter of Values (Bill 60). We ask you to join us in supporting of our sisters in Quebec this International Women`s Day (IWD) events by marching with us in Torontohttps://www.facebook.com/events/731075343592233/ or making your own solidarity contingent in IWD activities nationwide. Please document your activities & post on social media with the hashtag #right2wearIWD

Outburst! believes that barring a woman from accessing social services, employment, health and education, as well as creating a climate of shame and fear around her is not an effective way to help her. Muslim women are increasingly targets for verbal and physical violence since the proposal for Bill 60 was introduced. In a recent online survey of 388 Muslim women living in Quebec, 88% said they no longer feel safe leaving their homes . Even though the Charter has been tabled we worry that visible Muslim women will continue to be targeted.

What was the Charter of Values?

The Charter of Values (Bill 60), also known as the “Charter affirming the values of State secularism and religious neutrality and of equality between women and men, and providing a framework for accommodation requests”, was tabled in November 2013 by the governing Parti Québécois. Its stated goals are:
(1) setting clear rules for everyone on religious accommodation; and
(2) affirming ‘Quebec values’ including equality between women and men, religious neutrality of
Quebec’s public institutions, and recognition of a common historic heritage; and
(3) Establishing the religious neutrality of the state to promote pluralism by ensuring fair and equal treatment of all beliefs.

The bill includes a ban on the wearing of ‘conspicuous’ religious symbols for all state personnel except elected officials. This includes kippahs, turbans, hijabs, niqabs and large crucifixes. The bill makes it mandatory for persons to have their faces uncovered when receiving a state service.

The proposed Charter of Values (Bill 60):

  • “Exacerbate inequality between women and men and worsen the situation of women who are targeted by the law
  • Affirms that the type of secularism it defends will create equality between men and women;
  • Wrongly equates the veil with the oppression of women;
  • Dictates (beyond what is already stipulated in the law) what people, in particular women, may or may not wear;
  • Will have a devastating impact on marginalized women” Simone de Beauvoir Institute

Learn More Here:

On the Parti Quebecois’ Charter of Values By Ginella Massa

My Hijab My Choice

 

Imagine being told by your provincial government that you have to remove your pants before entering your work place. No slacks, no trousers, no sweatpants, no shorts, no skirts. Only underwear would be permitted. You are welcome to wear pants in the comfort and privacy of your home, and while going about your daily life, but not while on the clock.

 

Would you feel exposed without pants? Would it upset you enough to march in the street with other pants-wearing citizens? Would you consider a move from the province in protest? Should the government be able to tell you what you can and cannot wear at work, and declare that covering the lower half of your body goes against the province’s values?

 

Well, this may soon be a similar reality for thousands of Canadians as the Parti Quebecois’ proposed Charter of Values is set to be tabled Thursday. The bill would make it illegal for public sector employees to wear head scarves, turbans, yarmulkes and large crucifixes at work. For many like me, these articles of clothing are more than just religions symbols.  As a Muslim woman wearing a hijab for almost two thirds of my life, it’s a huge part of my identity. Just as you might feel exposed leaving the house without pants, I would feel naked without my scarf tightly wrapped around my head every day. Religion aside, wearing a hijab is so engrained in my daily life — carefully choosing from my colourful collection of scarves each day, being greeted with a knowing smile by other Muslims at work, and having my colleagues know a little bit about me without ever having to discuss my religion with them. The way others may chose to express themselves with funky socks, red lipstick, or snazzy ties, my scarf is my silent expression of my faith and it’s really for no one else but me.

 

Wearing a hijab has never stopped me from achieving my goals — if anything, it has pushed me to break through the stereotype of the “oppressed Muslim woman.”  As a child, I always dreamed of becoming a journalist. I work in a job where my employer values me for what’s in my head, rather than what’s on it. I could never imagine being forced to give up my career, not because I wanted to, but because someone else had decided that the piece of cloth on my head doesn’t belong. I’m so grateful that I don’t have to face that reality. But so many of my fellow Canadians may soon have to. Imagine, Quebec’s younger generation of Muslims, Sikhs, and Jews having to give up on dreams of becoming doctors, teachers, and police officers.

 

At its basic core, the Parti Quebecois’ Charter of Values is state-sanctioned workplace discrimination. This legislation claims to promote equality in Quebec’s society, but would instead create more barriers to prevent many from achieving just that.

 

The best part about being Canadian is knowing that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects me.  I cannot be discriminated against for my gender, race, sexual orientation, political belief or religion. The PQ’s proposed Charter of Values is an affront to all of that. And that’s not the Canada I know and love.

 

Ginella Massa graduated with an honours BA from York University in Communications and Sociology, and has a diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Seneca College. She has worked as a reporter for Rogers Television, and as a segment producer for CTV News Channel. This article was originally published as a blog on thoughtsfromaheadscarf.blogspot.com. You can follow her on twitter @Ginella_M.

ginella