Home Global Village Canada enters the age of “Hijab Phobia”

Canada enters the age of “Hijab Phobia”

banning
  • 447
    Shares
Shiffa Yousafzai |

The Western debate about Muslim women wearing “Hijab” and “Niqab” is not new and people, on both sides of the divide, have been rambling on, fighting for and dissecting, this issue, rather ferociously, since long. But legislation in a country like Canada – that takes credit in its liberal values – banning “Niqab” is still shocking. As I said, this is basically a western debate – and surprisingly in the name of “freedom”. Let’s move east; in the Islamic culture hijab is an emblem of modesty and women feel themselves to be more protected.

And the concept of Hijab in Islam is applied on both men and women and this is how it goes well beyond the headscarf or a garment that is used to cover oneself in public. Muslim women cover themselves in various ways, some do Hijab, others Niqab and some are observed in burka. Hijab is a Persian derivative of the Arabic word, “Hajaba” that means “to veil”. The most common form of hijab is the headscarf used to cover the head and hair.

Denial is a powerful thing and when you’re denied your fundamental right like dressing up the way you wants, practicing your religion, then nothing is more petrifying and frightening than that.

The niqab is a veil covering the face (eyes remain uncovered) and burka is a veil that covers the whole body. Hijab, Niqab or burka is not worn in front of your immediate family.

Read more: Rap Song ‘Wrap my Hijab’ is breaking the internet

Now there can be different reasons for one doing hijab or Niqab. Some strongly believe it to be their religious obligation, some are being told by their possessive husbands to cover their faces. So some are wearing Niqab because they want to, while others are being forced to.

Canada’s French-speaking province, Quebec has implemented a ban on covering the face. The legislation makes it illegal for public workers to cover their face. Interestingly, it also makes all women with the veil to unveil while traveling on public transport. Premier of Quebec and Liberal party leader Phillipe Couillard, in the National Assembly of Quebec, said, “We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine.”

While I am writing this piece, I am wondering how would it feel, if, all of a sudden in this 26th year of my life I am told or forced to dress up in a certain way which is opposite to how I have been dressing up all these years.

Before Quebec, it was the Austrian government to have implemented the ‘Niqab ban’. Banning the piece of fabric to be a part of women’s attire, the Austrian government said that the law has been put in place to protect the Austrian values and the concept of a free society.

Did they just say ‘Free society’?

I think that’s not really the reason why they did what they did. Does banning a type of clothing makes you a free society? Such statements of Austrian and Quebec governments have contradicted the move and their values both.

Read more: Nike jolts the liberals with its “Hijab Pro”

While obtruding this ban they should know that they are pushing those women into isolation – because they just won’t be able to go out if they are barred from covering their face and practice their religion as they want.

Previously, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, Chad, France, Spain, Niger, Cameroon have been the countries with a similar ban on covering the face in public. Denmark is also on the course of setting its own such ban.

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, after enforcing a complete public ban on full-face veils said, “They are not welcome in France.” France was the first country to draw the attention of the world towards this kind of ban. In France, women could be fined 150 euros for covering their face.

Premier of Quebec and Liberal party leader Phillipe Couillard, in the National Assembly of Quebec, said, “We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine.”

While I am writing this piece, I am wondering how would it feel, if, all of a sudden in this 26th year of my life I am told or forced to dress up in a certain way which is opposite to how I have been dressing up all these years. In similar fashion, how would a woman doing hijab or Niqab would feel if she’s asked to take it off? For the women wearing the headscarf (hijab) or Niqab, it is a piece of their clothing just like your T-shirt or jeans – how about I tell you to take your clothes off right in the middle of the street while you are leaving your house for work? I might get punched in the face.

Read more: “You will Never be Accepted Here!” EU Court Allows Companies to…

And yes, I would be inviting a sea of troubles and would be called a radical conservative Muslim if I did such a thing in France, Spain, UK, US or elsewhere. I might as well be ostracized just for holding such an opinion that restricts someone with another faith or religion from doing or wearing something that they want.

Being a Pakistani, I feel good, for we as an Islamic country, never tell foreigners coming from the west or other parts of the world to cover themselves in public or to wear the kind of clothes we do. We never tell foreigners to cover their legs and not to wear shorts while walking on the roads here. We are more concerned about their security in certain areas than to be interested in what they are wearing and what they are not.

The niqab is a veil covering the face (eyes remain uncovered) and burka is a veil that covers the whole body. Hijab, Niqab or burka is not worn in front of your immediate family.

Why can’t it be the same for Muslims in their countries? Why can’t it be the same for us in those countries that call themselves secular and open to all? Why can’t we as Muslims carry ourselves the way we want in those countries that claim to be caring about the due rights of their citizens irrespective of the color, creed, and religion?

Those democracies and so-called “free societies” brag about how well they deliver when it comes to the civil liberties and freedoms and how they work for the rights of their citizens. But this is one of the yardsticks with which you could measure the level of tolerance and acceptance of a society towards people belonging to other faiths. Imposing such bans is a growing threat to the civil liberties of the citizens in those societies.

Read more: Public Uproar in Norway at the recruitment of a full face…

According to statistics, incidents of hate crimes and Islamophobia in Quebec have risen in number in later years. French and some other governments also complain about racial discrimination, hate crimes and Islamophobic attitudes found among the public but then while imposing such bans they don’t realize that it’s actually them promoting hate crime and Islamophobia through such bans.

And the concept of Hijab in Islam is applied on both men and women and this is how it goes well beyond the headscarf or a garment that is used to cover oneself in public.

Looking at citizens with two different lenses would, in turn, make this fire of Islamophobia spread. In those countries, it is not the general public hating Muslims, nor all of them had this hatred inbuilt in them; rather it was installed in them by their governments. If the governments want to combat hate crimes and Islamophobic attitudes found in public then they have to shift their focus and revisit their policies towards Islam and Muslims.

Freely practicing your religion is one of the six basic fundamental rights of a citizen in a free society. Denial is a powerful thing and when you’re denied your fundamental right like dressing up the way you want, practicing your religion, then nothing is more petrifying and frightening than that.

Read more: Hijab style trends: From the Afghan burqa to the cover of…

How to dress up, is entirely an individual’s personal choice. Hence, should be treated that way by all.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Wearing hijaab or niqab (hiding face) is not even allowed during Haj, how come this becomes part of islam?? It should be banned in Islamic countries too.

  2. While wearing hijab is part of Islamic practice, the niqab (covering face) is NOT a religious practice! The author here is mistaken. Covering ones face is a practice which goes against Islam an was developed from cultural traditions, but it’s not s religious teaching.
    I am a Muslim woman and I am all for banning the niqab and the burka. If a woman feels she needs to cover her face in order to feel more comfortable, she should move to a country that accepts this sort of practice. Now, if any country tried to ban the hijab, there would be an uproar among Muslim women, because this is our religious right to do so.

Comments are closed.