Hijab is elephant in the room

The government of Quebec has made the Sikh turban and the Jewish kippa their sacrificial lambs –  BY TAREK FATAH ,TORONTO SUN

A Muslim woman wearing a niqab walks past a lingerie advertisement in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia April 26, 2013. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)


Avi and Rebecca (not their real names) are a secular Jewish couple in Montreal who wanted to get married in a ceremony conducted by a public civil servant, not a rabbi. Instead of signing the ketubah — the Jewish marriage contract — they wanted their wedding solemnized by a secular Quebec court official.

Imagine their surprise when they arrived at the Palais de Justice in Montreal with friends and family to learn their “secular” wedding was to be solemnized by a religious court official wearing a hijab.

You just cannot make this up. Two Jews who had made a deliberate effort to avoid a rabbi now had a Muslim official flaunting her religiosity in the form of attire that is often associated with virulent anti-Semitism.

I wrote to the wedding official asking her if she has ever been asked to take off her hijab by the bride and groom at a civil wedding ceremony, and would she comply with their request? She did not respond. I also asked her if she had ever refused to conduct a marriage ceremony if the couple wanted her to remove her headdress, but again there was no response from her.

Instead, Joanne Marceau, spokesman for Quebec’s justice department, called me back confirming that such a wedding had taken place. Asked if she thought allowing a hijab-clad court official to conduct secular weddings was proper, she replied, “there is no policy” to address such a situation.

The elephant in the room is the hijab and niqab, but instead of dealing with the challenge these symbols of “political Islam” pose to the rest of us, the government of Quebec has made the Sikh turban and the Jewish kippa their sacrificial lambs.

I am referring to the proposed “Charter of Quebec Values” that will ban public sector workers from wearing turbans, hijab, kippas and “ostentatious” crucifixes while at work.

There is hardly a soul in all of Canada who finds the Sikh turban, the Jewish yarmulke or the crucifix violate either Canadian or Quebec values. Yet, like Premier Pauline Marois, we are all part of the charade pretending this debate is about the Sikh turban.

If Marois indeed believes in upholding Quebec values, she would have said there is no room in Quebec for the use of religious symbols that promote fascist and supremacist political ideologies. However, we live in the age of Chamberlain, not Churchill.

For the record, the hijab and the niqab are not religious attire. The Qur’an instructs Muslim women to cover their breasts, not their heads or faces.

Both the hijab and niqab are symbols of servitude and misogyny imposed today by the worldwide, anti-western Islamist movement. Both pieces of cloth are the flags of political ideologies that have no basis in the Qur’an.

To the growing chorus of critics who have labelled the Parti Quebec “xenophobic,” I say it is far too easy to just berate Marois.

If you wish to demonstrate real courage instead of contrived anger, demand the burqa be banned and the hijab be declared a political symbol, not a religious one.

If not, pray tell me how you plan to stop an Islamic court clerk, wearing a symbol often associated with anti-Semitism, from conducting a civil marriage of two secular Jews?

4 comments for “Hijab is elephant in the room

  1. Patrick
    August 30, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    It is reassuring to hear the saner voices from the Muslim community.

  2. Susan K
    September 17, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    Hijab, yes, it is a political symbol. Sadly, many that wear it don’t know.

    Imagine this situation: You send your little girl to a public day-care centre. Young children spend a good deal of the year there. The teacher is hijabed. Most of the other little girls are also hijabed. Will your little girl want to wear a hijab to fit in with the others?

  3. October 30, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    April 13, 2014 at 2:20 AM

    I can’t understand the opposition to hijab, though I certainly object to burqa in public places. Hijab is just a head covering – and whether worn out of religious or political considerations should be unobjectionable to any democrat. It is like wearing a hat or topi or Indian [Hindu] women covering their heads by anchal. If you go on venting your anger for such acceptable practices also, I think you are becoming an extremist on the other side.

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