Not in Our Name: Muslim Women and the Quebec Charter

Quebecers protest the Charter of Secularism. [Source].

A few weeks ago, I spoke as part of a panel at the University of Ottawa about the Quebec Charter of Secularism, speaking both as Editor-in-Chief of Muslimah Media Watch and as a founding member of the Collective of Muslim Feminists of Quebec.  This is an edited version of my talk, updated to reflect shifts in the political context in the time since it was first presented (notably the announcement last week that Quebec will be holding provincial elections on April 7).  Many thanks to the Muslim … [Read more...]

Unintended Consequences: Minority Rights and Policy Making in the West

For many years now, countries around the world have been faced with the question of minority rights and religious accommodation. In Canada, where I currently live, questions about niqabs in courtrooms, voting stations and citizenship ceremonies have been raised in the past five years. Part of the debate has been the meaning of religious accommodation, the latest case being that of a student at York University who requested to be excused from working with females on religious bases. While the … [Read more...]

Uneasy Solidarity and the Hijab

Concordia University professor Nora Jaffary. [Source].

As the debate on Quebec’s Charter of Secularism (formally the unaptly named Charter of Values) rages on, two Montreal professors wore the hijab to demonstrate their solidarity with Muslim women. In short, the Charter of Values in Quebec is a proposed law that bans the visibility of religious symbols - hijabs, kippa, crosses, turbans - in public spaces. Effectively, if the law passes, anyone employed by and paid through the public purse may be disallowed from wearing anything that could be … [Read more...]

A Hijabi in Healthcare: The Story of Dr. Lailiyya

Cover of 99 Hijab Stories. [Source].

The recent debates on Quebec’s Charter of Values and on hijabis in Singaporean workplaces remind me of a woman that I know. Her name is Dr. Lailiyya. She was born in a small town in Java, the youngest girl of twelve children. When she was little, she suffered from polio. Her poor parents were unable to obtain medication for her, so little Lailiyya grew up with a deformed leg. In order for her to be able to attend school, Lailiyya’s brother had to carry her on his back to school and … [Read more...]

Muslim Women, Religious Neutrality, and Quebec’s Charter of Values

Women protest against the Charter of Quebec Values. [Source].

The news here in Quebec – and in many other parts of Canada – has been flooded in the past few weeks with stories about the newly-proposed Charter of Quebec Values.  Formally announced on Tuesday, September 10 (although some details had been leaked a couple weeks prior), the charter, if eventually passed as law, would prevent people working in the public sector from wearing “conspicuous religious symbols,” including headscarves, face veils, kippas, turbans, and large crosses.  Framed … [Read more...]

Hijab and Quebec’s Charter of Secularism

PQ leader Pauline Marois speaks to women in hijab while campaigning in early September. Photo via Reuters.

MMW is excited to welcome wood turtle as our newest contributor! You may know her already from previous guest posts or from her personal blog, and we look forward to having her as a regular part of the MMW team. Earlier this month, the Canadian province of Quebec elected its first female Premier. Headed by Pauline Marois, the Parti Québécois won a minority government after almost 10 years of Liberal rule. This election was also marked by accusations of xenophobia and racism, and ended … [Read more...]

Re-Humanize Me: Risky or Repetitive?

Poster image for "Re-Humanize Me." Via Deha Vasana.

A couple weeks ago, I was walking with a friend, when she abruptly stopped listening to me and turned to look at a bulletin board we were passing.  I followed her gaze, and… oh.  Uh.  Wow. Poster image for "Re-Humanize Me." Via Deha Vasana. Advertising a contemporary dance theatre performance called “Re-Humanize Me” at Montreal’s Fringe Festival, the poster features a woman in niqab in an Indian dance pose – with one bare leg peeking out from her abaya.  When I looked up the … [Read more...]


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