Human Rights..

Caitlin - posted on 04/28/2010 ( 31 moms have responded )

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Recently, there have been 2 muslim women expelled from government funded french classes in Quebec because they choose to wear their Niquab. It is an interesting topic I feel, and think that the Quebec Government has really overstepped their bounds on this one!



http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/nati...





----

Ingrid Peritz



Montreal — From Monday's Globe and Mail

Published on Sunday, Apr. 11, 2010 9:19PM EDT



Last updated on Monday, Apr. 12, 2010 5:00PM EDT





.One morning recently, a young Muslim woman whose face was hidden by a religious covering was pulled out of her government French class near Montreal and told to unveil or leave the course.



“Aisha,” a 25-year-old permanent resident from India, is the second such case to come to light in Quebec. Last month, the same ultimatum was given to Naema Ahmed, an Egyptian-born woman whose case sparked an uproar and led to landmark provincial legislation against religious face veils.



But, while Ms. Ahmed was portrayed in media accounts as difficult to accommodate, Aisha, as she has asked to be called to shield her identity, didn’t make waves.



According to former classmates and officials at the suburban centre she attended, the young woman was a model student who placed no demands on others and even teamed up with male students for class assignments.





“ She was an excellent student. I saw in this woman a will to integrate. ... The decision upset the whole class. ”

— Mustapha Kachani, Centre d'intégration multi-services de l’Ouest de l’Île





“She was an excellent student. I saw in this woman a will to integrate,” said Mustapha Kachani, executive director of the Centre d’intégration multi-services de l’Ouest de l’Île.



The Immigration Department’s assertion that her veil, or niqab, posed a problem for “pedagogical” reasons was unfounded, Mr. Kachani said.



“She demonstrated great diligence in the course, in addition to actively participating in class, all the while articulating very well,” he wrote in a letter to Immigration Department officials and copied to Quebec Immigration Minister Yolande James.



“The decision upset the whole class.”



Aisha’s expulsion on March 12 raises questions about the broader effects of limiting religious displays while trying to integrate immigrants. Quebec’s proposed anti-niqab legislation, which would deny veiled women government services and has won widespread support inside and outside Quebec, has left women like Aisha at home rather than in the classroom. Aisha was completing the fifth week of her course at the immigrant integration centre when she was called into a private meeting with two government officials. Afterward, she left crying and shaken.



“I was heartbroken. I loved my French course and I loved that school, it was like a second home to me,” Aisha said in an interview.





“ It’s like ripping off my modesty, like someone asking me to take off my clothes. ”

— Aisha, who was ordered to unveil or leave class





Joanie Lavoie, co-ordinator at the centre, says Aisha’s teacher had no complaints about her. Aisha and the 18 other students sat at desks formed into a U.



“The teacher said she was a model student,” Ms. Lavoie said. “Now she’s home. By staying home, she’ll never integrate into Quebec and Canadian values.”



Mr. Kachani, who favours the removal of the veil, says he wishes Aisha had been given time rather than an ultimatum. “I’m sure we could have found a solution instead of isolating her and marginalizing her,” he said. “Maybe we would have convinced her to remove her veil.”



Mr. Kachani made Aisha two offers in an effort to help her stay at school: Either she could sit in the front of the class, facing the teacher and with her back to the class, with her veil removed; the students agreed to rearrange the desks into rows so they wouldn’t see her face. Or she could settle for a six-hour-a-week course on Quebec society given by the centre’s employees, with her niqab. Her French class was 30 hours a week.



Aisha says she could not remove her niqab. “It’s like ripping off my modesty, like someone asking me to take off my clothes,” she said.



And Aisha, whose British-born husband grew up in Montreal, wants to study French full-time.



“I feel it’s my right to go to any school,” she said. “We pay our taxes.”



Rachna Abrol, a former classmate, says the other students were unhappy with Aisha’s expulsion.



“Everybody liked her. She co-operated with everybody. She talked to men. She liked French and she’s intelligent, too,” Ms. Abrol said at the government-funded centre, a low-slung building set among warehouses and suburban housing in Montreal’s West Island. “Everybody wants her to come back.”

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Johnny - posted on 04/29/2010

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Thank you Kathy (and I didn't even think it was that rude) :-)

I will just add that simply because people choose to define it as a religious thing doesn't make it an actual religious requirement. It's like not eating meat for lent, it isn't laid out as a specific rule in the bible, and is more a cultural habit of the Catholic and Orthodox church than an actual religious rule. Just because one sect of one religious group chooses a behavior or mode of dress does not mean that it is necessarily a part of that religion.

And the many muslim women I know share my viewpoint on the veil, and most of them do cover their heads. In fact, I used to think that it was acceptable, but their information and opinions actually led me to change my mind. Many current Islamic scholars are actually quite opposed to female veiling as well.

There is no way that anyone will convince me that a group of women who feel that covering their face is necessary are not in some way marginalized. Of course women who don't may be living in horrible life circumstances, that they too may be marginalized and abused. You don't need to wear the veil to suffer misogyny. But the veil is a symbol of women's subservience, submission, and 2nd class status. Just because SOME women who wear it do not feel that way, does not change what that veil is meant to signify. Its design and its wearing is encouraged in order to hide women, to demonstrate shame at their appearance, and to keep them isolated from others. If the woman wearing it made the choice to do so, I absolutely agree that it is her right to do so. But just like I don't like it when women wear skanky clothes because it denigrates them, I feel exactly the same when women veil their faces.

[deleted account]

Hi Carol, I don’t think we’re ever going to agree! So now I’m just taking the opportunity to expand on my opinion.

I’m suggesting that we in the west have made veiling into a symbol of the low status of women. There seems to be a general agreement to dismiss the writings of the Qu’ran and the Hadith which see clothing requirements not as restrictions but as a way in which Islamic society will function in a proper manner, and many people do not seem to be convinced by women who choose to veil: http://www.jannah.org/sisters/veiled.htm...

Yes, there are many parts of the world where the burqa IS symbolic of women’s oppression, but it’s often not a prime target of opposition – many women in Afghanistan, for example, are more concerned with basic rights such as education, health care, freedom from violence, freedom to make their own decisions etc See http://www.rawa.org/index.php


The veil is not a uniquely Islamic convention; the practice has a long history in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Many other cultures feature the veil, not only for religious reasons. The desert-dwelling Bedouin, for example, both men and women, wear robes and veils to protect them from the hot sun and the wind, as well as because it fits with their Islamic beliefs.

So I don't think it's wise to make generalise statements about the symbolism of covering, as there are too many variables.

As I said earlier, I once had a job interview via phone, and that was probably the best interview I've ever done - the freedom of knowing the interview panel couldn't see me! I generally don't perform well in interviews but I blitzed it!

[deleted account]

Christina, I tend to think we get a bit over-suspicious about face-coverings. I got my last job after a telephone interview, and it wasn't a video link. But this thread isn't about suspicion, it's about human rights.

Lea - posted on 05/02/2010

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You know what I think is degrading, some of those clothes you see those little girls wearing, you know, the tube tops and the short-shorts that say "juicy"!

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Emma - posted on 05/03/2010

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Lea Cree posted this:
"I saw an episode of Oprah in which a muslim woman explained why she wore a veil/headcover. She said it was actually liberating not to have to be concerned with her appearance for other people (makeup, etc). She felt it helped her focus her mind on the important things in life (God, etc) and live a better life. Now doesn't that make a lot of sense!"

Emma - posted on 05/02/2010

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I would quite like one of these i totally get the freedom it must give some woman, our society is so superficial, it would be nice just to opt out of all the judgement regarding hair style, make up what brands your wearing ect.

Johnny - posted on 05/02/2010

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I am not so much suggesting that the women themselves necessarily feel marginalized or to be second class citizens, especially if they truly have the freedom to choose whether to wear a veil or not (although I suspect that in the entire Islamic world, it is the minority of women who truly have that freedom to choose - whereas in the west, it might be the majority). I simply am suggesting that the veil does lead to them being marginalized by society. My argument comparing it to the wearing of provocative clothing is meant to allude to the idea that although women may wear those clothes because they feel empowered in their sexuality, that society interprets it differently. I am fairly certain that most people, especially in the west, see the Islamic veil as misogynistic. And I would also argue that for the majority of women around the world who wear them, that it is not a free choice. The veil represents a view of women as provocateurs of men and a lesser gender. The women that you know may not feel that way at this time, but the history of veiling is quite negative in terms of female equality.

C. - posted on 05/02/2010

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I'm just stating that the school has their reasons for the policy, it's not meant to be discriminatory toward one's religion. There are many reasons why such a policy stays in affect.

C. - posted on 05/02/2010

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When I was in school, which wasn't all that long ago, we had Muslim students. They were allowed to wear the Khimar, Al-amira, Shayla and Hijab style headdresses (a link for those who don't know the difference between them: http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/.a/6a...). The schools did make an exception to the rules, since we were not allowed to wear hats and things at school, but they were given specific guidelines for the headdresses. As long as the teachers/administrators could see their face, it was fine b/c it was for religious reasons.

I don't think that the school has overstepped their boundaries. Face coverings can be suspicious regardless of who you are and it's the school's duty, regardless of their student's ages, to be a safe environment for everyone on campus. I don't see a problem with her only wearing a headdress, but a face covering should not be permitted.

[deleted account]

Carol, I think wearing /not wearing the veil or the full burqa is a personal choice is a personal choice by the woman. Generally speaking, of course - I'm sure there are those who wear it only because their husbands tell them to do so! I know women who DO regard it as a requirement of the particular branch of Islam they follow, I know women who enjoy the freedom it gives them - they can slip it on over their trackies and they're right to go! - and I remember having a long discussion with a lady wearing the burqa in the library I used to work at - she was so proud of her beautiful skin!

So these ladies are obviously not feeling marginalised by their wearing of the burqa, so I don't feel it is even symbolic of being marginalised! In fact, I know many young women, who use their veil to hold their mobile phone!

I think perhaps that it's because I have worked in such a multicultural area and because I have so many musim friends who are just as feisty as anyone else that I can't see the burqa as demeaning or even a symbol of 2nd class status.

Also, I was educated by nuns, and they had some pretty weird clothes!

Johnny - posted on 05/02/2010

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Kathy, I would never tell a woman that I think that of her personally. It is a political/social stance. In the same strain, I don't like seeing women dressed like floozies walking around the grocery store. That too makes me cringe. They may feel empowered in their sexuality, but they are just sending out a message to society that they are "easy sluts" and may have low self-esteem.

I have a friend who dresses like that, is perfectly happy doing it, has never had a man make her do it, but honestly, it is sort of a "self-fulfilling prophecy." She is always wondering why the men she meets are just looking for a good time and not to get serious and get married. And why women give her dirty looks and are rather rude to her.

Women who choose to veil are entitled to do so (I'm not arguing to support a ban or legislation at all), but simply suggesting that by wearing the veil, they are being marginalized in society.

Lea - posted on 05/02/2010

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I saw an episode of Oprah in which a muslim woman explained why she wore a veil/headcover. She said it was actually liberating not to have to be concerned with her appearance for other people (makeup, etc). She felt it helped her focus her mind on the important things in life (God, etc) and live a better life. Now doesn't that make a lot of sense!

[deleted account]

Carol, I do feel that if the woman concerned is happy, we don't have the right to tell her that her clothing symbolises subservience, submission and 2nd class status. That would be telling her what she should be feeling.

Emma - posted on 04/30/2010

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This is very wrong, the county i live in our government and religion are separate, but we have freedom of religion too, our schools are not religious but they are not aloud to stop the people attending from wearing garments that are part of there religious beliefs.
Our human rights commission would go nuts on this if it happened hear.

[deleted account]

Carol, I just had another look at my post, and realized I was very rude to you. I’m sorry. I’m passionate about Human Rights – it’s one of my “things” – and there I was being rude to you because you had a different view to me. Mea culpa.

[deleted account]

n some of the more extreme sects of Islam it is regarded as religious. I certainly don't regard it as barbaric, and nor do many of the women I've spoken to (and I used to work in a suburb which contained a large population of muslim people from many different countries.) Many of these women choose to cover, and the ones I've spoken to are certainly not submissive, nor are they marginalised! I know many white Australian women who are treated extremely badly by their supposedly civilised partners, and I'm sure everyone does. How you are treated does not depend on what you wear!

It certainly doesn't worry me, perhaps because I'm used to it.In my opinion, judging the practice as "barbaric" is pretty insulting, as is hoping that these "horrible practices will be slowly phased out of their lives." How condescending!

Many of my friends choose to cover, many don't.They all enjoy a coffee and a good bitch session, same as everybody else.

Johnny - posted on 04/28/2010

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I've got to admit that I can not stand the veiling practice. It just makes me cringe every time I see it. And it is a cultural practice, it is not a religious thing. The Koran specifies modest dress and mentions covering of heads, but never speaks of hiding the face of a woman. It is simply a barbaric practice that marginalizes women. Like I said, it really bugs me.

However, I think that removing them from the classroom and discriminating against them in this way further adds to this marginalization. Allowing them to be welcomed into the country, treating them with respect and care, and supporting them will go a lot farther in terms of changing this sort of practice. These women should not be isolated from mainstream Canadian society, but encouraged to actively participate and be integrated. Hopefully in this way these sorts of horrible practices will slowly be phased out of their lives.

[deleted account]

I really don't see why someone who chooses to cover her face as part of her tradition and her religion should be treated any differently from anyone else. It's quite discriminatory. It's her religion, not just a whim, and EVERYONE'S religion must be respected! We might feel it's demeaning, but we have no right to judge others by our standards.

[deleted account]

I think these women were discriminated against. I can't understand why adult women should be prevented from learning just because they want to cover their faces. I can understand why exceptions to personal freedom might be made in some situations, but preventing students from wearing the niquab is a step too far.

Caitlin - posted on 04/28/2010

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It's really funny because they do things like this so often around here. While I think women should remove these, as a course for recent immigrants, she's obviously doing well taking the first step by learning the legal language here, why force too much too fast?

Rosie - posted on 04/28/2010

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i'd be all for it if they did that with all other religious aspects of society in the school. until they get rid of all, then she should be able to wear it (as much as i think it demeans her).

?? - posted on 04/28/2010

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Uniforms for all !!!!



I don't agree with face coverings or the traditional wardrobe all together that Muslim women wear. I just think that it's inappropriate to tell her to take it off when it's what she's known her whole life.



It's equivilent of raising a child with no boundaries and then after 25 years of absolutely zero consiquences of their actions they're told to behave. They don't and won't know how too.



Or raising a child in a closet, never seeing the sunlight and then just shoving them outside one day and locking the door behind them. It'd be a shock to the system.



And I think this school basically did that to her, expecting of her something that she has no way of knowing how to 'deal with it' because it's been her life the up until that day.



The man said:



Mr. Kachani, who favours the removal of the veil, says he wishes Aisha had been given time rather than an ultimatum. “I’m sure we could have found a solution instead of isolating her and marginalizing her,” he said. “Maybe we would have convinced her to remove her veil.”





I agree with what he is implying in a sense. Maybe if they had worked with her, discussed with her, helped her ease into the decision and the change in her life it would be easier for her to accept and adapt too.



As much as I don't agree with women being hidden away behind clothing, when that's all they know, there are better ways to help her be comfortable with herself than to give her an ultimatum that makes her feel like "It’s like ripping off my modesty, like someone asking me to take off my clothes."



No one, for any reason, has the right to make a person feel that way.

Jenny - posted on 04/28/2010

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My child's school doesn't allow hats in class. It could be considered a respect thing too. The teacher wants to make sure the students are paying attention.

I do not support the wearing of full face coverings. I find them demeaning to women and I support the banning of them entirely. I'm glad Quebec is looking into it, hopefully it passes and spreads across the country.

LaCi - posted on 04/28/2010

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They were considering banning niquabs in France as well, in schools and such.

I think its terrible, not much else to say about it. she shouldn't have to abandon her religion at the door to a take a french class so she can learn speak the language of her home.

Jocelyn - posted on 04/28/2010

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They definitely crossed a line on this one. Who is she hurting by covering her face? I agree with having to uncover for things like passports and the such, but just sitting in a classroom? That's ridiculous imo.

?? - posted on 04/28/2010

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As much as I don't agree with the implications of women having their faces covered I think the school crossed the line. If it is THAT big of an issue, people with their stupid hair cuts that go across their faces should be told to tie it back, cut it or get out. The dumbasses that wear their stupid hats down over their eyes should be told to take it off or get out. People who wear any sort of 'religious' outfit should be told to change or get out.



The woman herself said “It’s like ripping off my modesty, like someone asking me to take off my clothes” in any other situation that's considered sexual assault... and the very idea, if her feelings truly are as she said there, they're basically emotionally raping this girl. There's a line and they beyond crossed it.

Sharon - posted on 04/28/2010

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All i got from this is that she is selective in which of her religious tenets she will follow and expect everyone else to respect that.

Its on par with a jewish colleage who never says a word about their religion until chanukka rolls around then he needs 7 days off (I have no idea if thats how it works, it just an example).

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