Seuls les Musulmanes peuvent parler du voile ?

Seuls les Musulmanes peuvent parler du voile ?

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Voici un texte que j'ai présenté au National Post, où je signe des chroniques occasionnelles depuis quelques années, au sujet du voile que portait la première ministre de l'Alberta, Rachel Notley, pour présenter, sur vidéo, ses voeux pour la Fête du sacrifice aux Albertains musulmans, vendredi dernier.

Le texte a été refusé pour des raisons qui me laissent pantoise. C'est leur droit et je ne suis pas amère. Ainsi va la vie des pigistes. Mais cette décision en dit long sur les attitudes différentes du Québec et du Canada anglais face à la diversité religieuse, la situation des femmes dans l'islam et la séparation de la religion et de l'État.

Il va sans dire que c'est en anglais mais je l'ai condensé en français dans ma chronique de jeudi dans le Journal de Montréal et de Québec, intitulée Canada bashing. 

Je n'ai pas le temps de le traduire en raison d'une situation médicale familiale mais si la demande est suffisante, je m'y mettrai la semaine prochaine.

Comme on dit, enjoy !


For God’s sake, take off that veil

You have to admire the gall of the well-meaning left, its willingness to go to any length to please and to sermon at the same time, both in words and in deeds. Alberta premier Rachel Notley gave such a spectacle when she wished her Muslim constituents Eid Mubarak on the feast of Eid-al-Adha with a scarf on her head, à la hijab.

How nice! How multicultural! How progressive!  Surely, to oppose this grand gesture of inclusiveness reveals a nugget of ‘islamophobia’, right?

Sorry to disappoint but the truth walks in a different direction.  

Simply put, it was a regressive and divisive thing to do.

Female solidarity

As a feminist, she cannot discount the views of those women and men who feel that imposing hair covering for religious reasons of modesty goes against the grain of feminist thought because it makes women bear the brunt of protecting men against their own testosterone-driven sexual impulses instead of teaching them about respect and self-control.  

And as a woman, she must also know that many, but not all, Canadian Muslimas wear the veil because they choose to do so. Wearing hijab is a right in Canada, as it should be, but it is never ‘cool’, especially when worn to look ‘cool’ by a non-Muslim political leader of all Albertans who should know better.

Muslim girls and women around the world are bullied, beaten and jailed for refusing to cover their hair in public. Try strolling through downtown Teheran or Riyad with your hair in the wind when you are a woman, or even a little girl. It is so unthinkable that governments fund religious police squads to make sure it never happens.   

Remember Aqsa Parvez

The religious freedoms we enjoy in Canada must not allow us to forget that children, teens and adult women all over the world, including here, are not free to dress as they please.

For example, a private Montreal Muslim primary school imposes the Islamic scarf as part of its school uniform. Who knew third-graders ponytails could create sinful sexual mayhem in the school yard?  

If none of this is convincing, please spare a thought for Aqsa Parvez, strangled to death by her father at 16 because she refused to wear hijab. It happened in Toronto, not in Kabul.

For that reason alone, no non-Muslim Canadian politician should ever cover her hair as part of her civic duties outside of a place of worship. To do so is to spit on Aqsa’s grave.

A 50/50 split

The 2016 Environics survey of Muslims in Canada showed that 53% of women wear hijab, a 10% increase over 2006. While the reasons for wearing hijab are many, religious, cultural, political or simply to honour tradition, one thing stands out, compulsory religious attire creates division inside Canadian Muslim communities.  

By wearing a scarf to mark a religious holiday also kept by secular Muslims, Mrs. Notley points in the direction of what is hallal and what is not in her province, sending a message to secular Canadian of Muslim background women that they are not really part of their own tribe. She defines Muslim identity for them by going along with one of the faith’s strictest interpretation.

What does a non-hijab wearing mom tell her teenage daughter who wants to cover her hair ‘like the premier?’

Church and State

I could blab on and on about separation of church and state – something close to the heart and minds of Quebecers who lived under the Catholic church’s iron rule for centuries – but English-speaking Canada appears to value multiculturalism more than keeping the state meticulously neutral in term of religion.

A mystery to me since I cannot find one good thing to say about the intrusion of religion, any religion, in the affairs of the state, a view shared by the Supreme Court of Canada when it ruled against prayer at the municipal council in Saguenay, but a principle Parliament chose to ignore when it approved an anti-discrimination motion that put one religion above others.  

Nothing is perfect

Are things hunky dory for all Muslims in Canada? No. The terrorist attack against Muslim worshippers in Québec City last January will be a stain on our national conscience forever. Canadian Muslims feel the backlash created by terrorism in France, Britain, Germany, Spain and the US and the horrors perpetrated by Daesh in Syria and in Iraq.

Some people, sadly, cannot make the difference between Islam and Islamism. The strident militancy of extremist groups – the popular web portal Muslims in Calgary published an article last week praising female circumcision – does not help either.

But kowtowing to a strict interpretation of Islam and not standing shoulder to shoulder with Muslim women around the world who clamour for freedom and equality will not make Canada a haven for those who come here to escape religious tyranny.

Please Mrs. Notley, take that veil off. It does not become you.


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