New research shows Bill 21 having ‘devastating’ impact on religious minorities in Quebec [particularly Muslim women]

Would be interesting to see the breakdown between Montreal and the rest of Quebec, where immigration is low as is the number of visible and religious minorities:

New research shows that three years after Quebec’s secularism law — commonly known as Bill 21 — was adopted, religious minorities in the province are feeling increasingly alienated and hopeless.  

“Religious minority communities are encountering — at levels that are disturbing — a reflection of disdain, hate, mistrust and aggression,” Miriam Taylor, lead researcher and the director of publications and partnerships at the Association for Canadian Studies, told CBC in an interview.

“We even saw threats and physical violence,” Taylor said.

Bill 21, which passed in 2019, bars public school teachers, police officers, judges and government lawyers, among other civil servants in positions of authority, from wearing religious symbols — such as hijabs, crucifixes or turbans — while at work.

Taylor and her colleagues at the association worked with polling firm Leger to gather a unique portrait of attitudes toward Bill 21 in Quebec.

The association surveyed members of certain religious minority communities including 632 Muslims, 165 Jews and 56 Sikhs.

Those results were folded into a Leger survey of the Quebec population as whole, and then weighted to ensure the sample was representative of the entire population.

That allowed Taylor to compare and contrast the attitudes toward Bill 21 of Quebecers who are religious minorities with the attitudes of Quebecers as a whole.

In total 1,828 people were questioned in the online survey.

Taylor shared an advance copy of her final report, which is being released today, with CBC.

Muslim women most affected

Although all three religious minority groups surveyed said they’ve experienced negative impacts due to Bill 21, the effects are being most acutely felt by Muslims and, in particular, Muslim women.

“We saw severe social stigmatisation of Muslim women, marginalization of Muslim women and very disturbing declines in their sense of well-being, their ability to fulfil their aspirations, sense of safety, but also hope for the future,”  Taylor said.

Of the Muslim women surveyed, 78 per cent said their feeling of being accepted as a full-fledged member of Quebec society had worsened over the last three years.

Fifty-three per cent said they’d heard prejudicial remarks about Muslims from family, friends or colleagues.

People surveyed were given the opportunity to share examples of comments they’d heard or behaviours they’d experienced.

One reported hearing: ”These Muslim women with rags on their heads, if they are not able to integrate, let them return to their country.”

Forty-seven per cent of Muslim women said they’d been treated unfairly by a person in a position of authority. 

One person reported being called a “dirty immigrant” by a police officer in Quebec City.  Another reported that a teacher told disparaging anecdotes about Islam in class.

Two thirds of Muslim women said they’d been a victim of and/or a witness to a hate crime. Seventy-three per cent said their feeling of being safe in public had worsened.

Taylor found that nearly three quarters of Muslim women surveyed felt their comfort about safety in public had worsened in the three years since Bill 21 was adopted. (Association for Canadian Studies)

People surveyed offered examples ranging from racist remarks to death threats, having hijabs ripped off and being spat on. One person reported that a man deliberately tried to run over them and their three-year-old daughter with a pickup truck.

A majority of Muslims also reported feeling less hopeful, less free to express themselves in public and less likely to participate in social and political life.

“For a law that’s supposed to be very moderate and only touch a very small number of people, we were shocked at the responses,” Taylor said.

She said the response she found most upsetting was that 83 per cent of Muslim women surveyed said their confidence in their children’s future had worsened since Bill 21 passed.

Taylor said the figure that most upset her was the lack of hope Quebec Muslims have for their children’s future. (Association for Canadian Studies)

“It’s one thing to say: ‘you know what, I’m experiencing a lot of unfair treatment because I’m not understood,'” Taylor said. “It’s another thing to project forward and have no hope for your children.”

Law reinforces existing prejudices

Taylor believes Bill 21 alone isn’t responsible for the feelings of alienation and insecurity Quebec Muslims and other religious minorities feel.

She said prejudicial attitudes have been gestating in Quebec for nearly 20 years, when the debate over so-called “reasonable accommodations” for religious minorities first took hold.

“Malaise, fear and anxieties get provoked over time,” Taylor said.

She said often those anxieties are based on ignorance.

“By their own admission, Quebecers in general have very little contact with members of religious minorities,” Taylor said. “All of these negative opinions are based on lack of knowledge.”

Taylor said Bill 21 has enabled those prejudices — rooted in ignorance — to become the norm.

“We end up with a situation where the malaise of the observer trumps the deep convictions of the person actually wearing the religious symbols,” Taylor said.

“We’re validating and reinforcing those opinions, and then we’re politicizing the symbols. Those symbols are lightning rods,” she said.

“And so we end up dehumanizing the people wearing the symbols,” Taylor said.

Women generally less supportive of Bill 21

Taylor said that Bill 21 has consistently maintained the support of about two thirds of Quebecers since it was adopted, with a dip last January after the high-profile case of a hijab-wearing teacher in Chelsea who was removed from the classroom and reassigned.

But she said that support is nuanced and full of contradictions.

Women in Quebec, for example, are generally less supportive of Bill 21 than men. Sixty-eight per cent of men support the law compared to 58 per cent of women.

Taylor said the research showed that women, and in particular young women, are less supportive of Bill 21 than men. (Association for Canadian Studies)

And the younger women are, the less likely they are to support the law.  Just 31 per cent of women aged 18-24 support Bill 21.

Taylor said that raised questions for her.

“It’s touted as a feminist law by the people who support it. So why is it that particularly the younger women of Quebec are so much less in favour of it when one would expect the reverse proportion?” she said.

Support for the law but not for enforcement

Another statistic that surprised Taylor: even Quebecers who support the law don’t necessarily want to see it enforced.

Only 40 per cent of people surveyed believe a public servant who does not comply with the law should lose their job. 

“The law is supported and liked by Quebecers. But they seem much less keen to see it actually applied,” Taylor said.

“I think that we’re a human society and we care about people. We all need income to survive and I think people are aware of what a heavy price that would be to pay,” she said.

Quebecers care about what courts say about Bill 21

Taylor was also surprised that the survey showed that Quebecers care deeply about what courts have to say about Bill 21.

When drafting the law, the Quebec government, recognizing that it would likely violate both the Canadian and the Quebec charters of rights, pre-emptively invoked the constitutional notwithstanding clause, and altered the Quebec charter to try to shut down court challenges.

But those challenges came anyway, and now both the government and groups that oppose the bill are challenging a 2021 Quebec Superior Court ruling that upheld most of the law before the Quebec Court of Appeal.

It’s widely expected the law will eventually be challenged in the Supreme Court of Canada.

The bill’s architect, Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, has argued that it’s up to elected politicians in the National Assembly — and not the courts — to decide how they want to organize relations between the state and religion.

But Quebecers seem to feel differently.

Sixty-four per cent, roughly the same percentage that support the bill, also feel it’s important for the Supreme Court to issue an opinion on whether Bill 21 is discriminatory.

And if the courts were to confirm the law is discriminatory, support for the bill would plummet.

Only 46 per cent of people surveyed — less than half — said they would continue to support the law if the courts confirmed it violates the Charter of Rights.

Debate not over

Jolin-Barrette has portrayed Quebecers as united in support of the bill, and has accused detractors of trying to divide Quebecers.

But Taylor’s survey shows that a majority of Quebecers — 56 per cent — believe the law itself is divisive.

When Bill 21 was adopted, Jolin-Barrette said it would “permit a harmonious transition toward secularism” for Quebec.

Taylor said that clearly hasn’t been the case.

“The debate is very far from closed,” she said. “Bill 21 is having devastating impacts on citizens in our province. It’s tearing apart our social fabric and I think it’s undermining our democracy.”

“If national unity is achieved at the expense of labelling minorities as in some way harmful or a threat, these are signs of the degeneration of democracy,” she said. 

Taylor said as a Quebecer, she finds this distressing.

“We live in a very distinct province. We’re different. It’s an experiment that on some level should never have succeeded: a thriving French society on an English continent,” she said.

“In all my years, I associate that distinct nature with a humanity, with understanding how important identity is,” Taylor said.

She said Bill 21 threatens that.

“I feel like we’re doing major harm to those values that we hold dear and that make us special,” Taylor said.

Source: New research shows Bill 21 having ‘devastating’ impact on religious minorities in Quebec

Muslim Models and Stylists Call on Fashion to Confront Its Racism

Of interest:

Halima Aden is considered one of the top models of the world. She was one of the first models to truly break the glass ceiling for Muslim models and Muslimrepresentation in the fashion industry. Aden was also one of the first models to wear a hijab on the runway, which was considered revolutionary.

She recently sent shockwaves through the media sphere when she said that she would be taking a step back from modeling and the fashion industry because she felt she was forced to compromise her religious beliefs for too long.

Aden pointed to instances where she was forced to miss prayers and wear garments in place of her traditional hijab that didn’t align with her religious beliefs. With Muslim women as a fast-growing segment of United States and European populations, civil rights groups including the ACLU have called for Muslim women to have the right to wear head coverings.

Aden often found herself in situations where people treated any head covering as appropriate for her religious beliefs.

Campaigners are now calling for the fashion industry to represent the diversity of Muslim women, and to treat the Muslim women working within it with respect.

Rafiqah Akhdar, a Muslim model and makeup artist, told The Daily Beast, “The fashion industry doesn’t really handle Muslim representation at all. What you even do see in terms of representation is so low and so little. Even when you do see it’s a token hijabi girl, and a lot of Muslim representation is always a certain look. It’s a white-passing Muslim woman.”

“The industry doesn’t give us any representation, and even when they do it’s not a wide array,” Akhdar added. “There are how many Muslim women in the world? Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world. Representation should be moving faster than this. It’s not like Muslim women aren’t here and aren’t fashionable, but we are always treated like an afterthought.”

Hoda Katebi, an activist fashion blogger, author and photographer of “Tehran Streetstyle,” told The Daily Beast that the way the fashion industry handles representation, particularly when it comes to Muslim women, is “inherently meaningless.”

“If we are just selling magazine covers of people wearing the hijab, what is the value of that?” Katebi said. “The larger fashion industry as a whole profits from the violence of Muslim women. I don’t view representation as something that is objectively always good. It needs to be qualified. The conversation around representation is more complicated than people who are Muslim taking up space.”

Katebi’s activism as a fashion blogger has extended to labor rights activism for garment factory workers, many of whom are in Muslim heavy countries, like Indonesia, where they suffer poor working conditions that are considered human rights violations.

Katebi says that for true equality of Muslim representation to take place, there needs to be garment worker representation and those voices need to stop being erased. (Human rights organizations have called for the end of forced labor of Muslim minority groups in apparel supply chains in countries like China.)

Katebi says there is also a lack of regard for other people’s cultures and customs within the fashion industry.

“I remember one time when I was getting styled for a photoshoot, they said ‘By the way, we want you to wear your scarf for the shoot,’ like that was even optional. I was going to wear it,” Katebi said. “You don’t get to decide if was going to wear it or not. Even the ways in which styling happened, I specifically requested that I didn’t want men to undress me, I didn’t want men in the changing room with me. They consistently ignored these requests throughout the entire process.

“So many Muslim women have experienced these issues behind the scenes, and they often aren’t articulated because the bar set for the treatment of Muslim women is just so low. Even when Muslim models make it to the cover of magazines and fashion campaigns, the process just was not the same for them, and is often painful.”

The fashion industry has made some incremental changes in terms of representation over the past several years. In 2016, CoverGirl named Nura Afia its first ever hijab-wearing model as part of a panel of brand ambassadors. Nike now sells a lightweight hijab for Muslim consumers and had an entire campaign dedicated to female athletes in the Middle East. Still, many Muslim women feel the industry overall is still failing in terms of representation.

Saniyyah Bilal, a Muslim model and wardrobe stylist, says that the industry has heavily misrepresented Muslim women and has failed particularly when it comes to Black Muslim representation. The majority of Muslim women often represented are often just Arab Muslims, leaving little room for Black Muslim women to take up space. Bilal has faced issues as a model and seen how things are often misrepresented and mis-styled as a stylist.

“One of the big challenges I’ve seen with Muslim representation is just not seeing any Black Muslim women represented at all,” Bilal said. “Even looking at TV, when you see Muslim characters in television shows, they are usually Arab Muslims, and you’ll also see white actors and actresses in hijabs, and the styling of the hijab won’t even be proper, and the clothing won’t be representative of who we are.”

Bilal has been in situations where she’s done background modeling and they have tried to dress her in all black and completely cover her face, because that’s often a stylist’s perception of how all Muslim women who wear hijabs dress.

“I’ve come to shoots where no one has known how to style a hijab or what modesty is and have asked Muslim models to wear short sleeves or wear hijabs in incorrect ways,” Bilal said. “It makes us feel like outcasts for being modest Muslim women. The production team also not offering any halal meat options or kosher meat options for Muslim talent is also a problem Muslim women in the fashion industry face. We don’t feel we are being fully understood and accepted.”

Bilal recalls a particular instance where she was walking a show for New York Fashion Week, and she was modeling a bolero jacket.

The designer in question wanted to show off the neckline of the bolero jacket, so she wanted Bilal to tie her scarf as tight as possible to the back so it would be almost unnoticeable she had a scarf on. The neckline was open and not in line with Bilal’s views on modest fashion. After voicing her concerns, the designer shot down everything Bilal said. Before Bilal went on to walk, she straight pinned the neckline of the jacket to be in line with her modest fashion views, and it ended up not being an issue. She said she learned how to advocate for herself in that moment.

Melanie Elturk, the CEO of Haute Hijab, a prominent hijab and modest fashion company, sees herself as a member of the Muslim community with a fashion company rather than a fashion industry insider. Elturk says that Muslim representation in the fashion industry has been lackluster at best and that brands generally need to be more thoughtful in how they market toward Muslim women.

“Muslim women are already skeptical of outsiders and the mainstream coming into our spaces. It’s a problem we’ve had since 9/11,” Elturk said. “I’m also an attorney, and I’ve worked on various civil rights cases for years and years, and I’ve seen how Muslim women have been the victims of entrapment even prior to 9/11. Mainstream brands don’t understand that. There has to be a high level of care and intention when catering to this customer.”

Elturk also says that Muslim women are very skilled at sensing inauthenticity in campaigns and marketing and can smell a money grab instantly. This will deter them from buying. However, when Muslim consumers do feel that brands have really put in the effort and represented them properly, Muslim consumers will open their wallets to shop.

Elturk was inspired to start Haute Hijab because she remembers when she was in law school and she saw young Muslim women rarely wearing hijabs. Elturk realized that was because there were so few Muslim women wearing them in public life to look up to.

“Young Muslim women like myself had our immigrant moms who were in the house, and bless our mothers, but we had higher hopes for ourselves,” Elturk said. “I wanted to empower other Muslim women to see other women wearing hijabs being successful out there in the world, I could spark some change in that whole narrative. Women don’t have to abandon wearing their hijabs.”

Change is inevitable, with market forces helping drive it. According to the Pew Research Center, Islam will grow faster than any major world religion over the next four years, with the global Muslim population expected to reach 2.76 billion by 2050. Thirty-four percent of the Muslim population is aged below 15, and brands will want to cater to these young, up-and-coming consumers who will be a large part of the future of fashion and shopping.

Elturk says in order for the fashion industry to better represent Muslim women there needs to be more Muslim women in key decision-making roles. Muslim women need to stop being treated like a box for brands to tick off in terms of diversity efforts, Elturk adds.

As advocates for Muslim representation in the fashion industry have worked to bring these issues to light, companies like Modest Visions in the U.K., have formed to connect brands with millennial Muslim models and influencers for partnerships.

“If I can find Muslim models and influencers sitting around scrolling on Instagram, so can these multi-billion-dollar companies, it’s not difficult,” Rafiqah Akhdar said. “Brands act like they can’t find a specific person to fit their aesthetic or fit their looks, but with all the billions of diverse people in the world, I will never believe you can’t find more than one person to show diverse representation that doesn’t fit your aesthetic. They just want to stay stuck in their old ways.”

Source: Muslim Models and Stylists Call on Fashion to Confront Its Racism

After Quebec’s secularism law, Muslim women gather to figure out, ‘What can we do now?’

Interesting vignettes:

The women hold one hand to their chest and the other to their stomach as they’re told to breathe in and then out.

The workshop started with a guided meditation and a short discussion about how to cope emotionally with Quebec’s new secularism law, which bars them from wearing religious symbols at certain jobs. But it’s clear the 20 or so Muslim women here aren’t ready to relax.

A short time later, they’re at the edge of their seats shooting questions at lawyer William Korbatly about the law’s ins and outs.

What they really want to know is how to fight it.

“What is this law? What can we do now?” one woman lets out, shaking her head. “It’s ridiculous. I want us to end this law. It’s unjust.”

Considering social media campaigns — or self-defence

The women begin pitching ideas. Can they go around the law? Are there different ways they can hide their hair, perhaps?

“You put a wig on top of your hijab,” says Mejda Mouaffak, an elementary school teacher, with a laugh.

A social media campaign uniting different faiths (Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity) in solidarity against the law is pitched. Another campaign, to make fun of the law, is suggested. Self-defence workshops are another idea, ones that also touch on verbal attacks and how to react.

The workshop in an empty community centre in a northwestern Montreal neighbourhood ends up lasting nearly two hours longer than planned. The discussions are as nuanced and diverse as its participants, who hail from different backgrounds and ages and practice a range of professions.

Most of them wear a hijab.

‘We can be Muslim and feminist’

The gathering was organized for Muslim women to regroup after Quebec’s new CAQ government pushed through two key pieces of legislation, both affecting people of colour in the province, during a marathon weekend in the National Assembly the week before.

The new secularism law forbids certain groups of public servants — including teachers, police officers and government lawyers — from wearing religious symbols on the job. Critics say it impedes people’s right to practice their religion, and disproportionately targets Muslim women who wear a headscarf.

Participant Sara Hassanien wants to connect with Quebec feminists, a group that has been vocal in favour of the law, particularly in French media.

“I’m trying to tell them that unlike what you’ve always thought … we can be Muslim and feminist,” she said, noting there are about as many reasons women wear the hijab as there are women who do.

‘I totally understand what Quebec has been through’

Hassanien says, on the other hand, it’s important for her community to know the history of Quebec’s difficult relationship with the Catholic church.

“I totally empathize with you,” Hassanien told CBC later, as if addressing Quebec feminists.

“I totally understand what Quebec has been through. I understand that your mothers, your grandmothers, fought so hard for women’s liberation and I support that. I am here to comfort them, to reassure them that we are not ever going to call for going back.”

At the same time, Hassanien says she is tired of feeling like she has to speak for her entire community in spaces where it is under-represented.

‘The consquences can only be absurd’

Korbatly agreed with the women pointing out contradictions they see in the law: that the definition of “religious symbol” is vague and applies more to the Christian cross than the hijab, which they say is more of a practice.

He explained how disrespecting the law could lead to people being fired.

“When you have an absurd law, the consequences can only be absurd,” Korbatly told the group.

He hopes the legal challenge to the law launched last week, which argues Quebec can’t bypass Canadians’ right to religious freedom, will be successful.

Law effectively prevents a teacher’s promotion

Afterward, he told CBC News though the law does not affect him directly — he is Muslim, but does not wear religious garb — he felt it was his duty “to be there, present and give moral and legal support to the community.”

During the discussion he called himself a feminist “through and through.”

Amina B., who wished to withhold her last name because of fear it would affect her employment, is a substitute teacher.

The law effectively prevents her from being promoted to any other public education role in the province. It includes a grandfather clause that protects people hired before March 28, but as soon as they are promoted or access another position covered by the law, it applies.

‘This is shaking me to the core’

Amina had signed up for a two-year online teacher program at the University of Ottawa, but she’s not sure she’ll complete it now.

“If that means I will always have to be a substitute teacher, and that I can’t evolve, what’s the point?”

She came to the workshop because “when you get involved, maybe, you can make things change.”

Hassanien is an ESL teacher for a private company. She says it was important for her to join, too, because “I started to feel helpless about what’s happening on a daily basis to me as a veiled woman in Montreal.”

She says her trips on public transit now fill her with anxiety and fear that she will be harassed. Even strange looks are a cause of stress.

“This is shaking me to the core,” she said.

Spike in public harassment

The event was organized by Hanadi Saad, who founded Justice Femme after the first attempt by a Quebec government to legislate religious garb, when it was led by the Parti Québécois in 2013, to offer legal and psychological support to Muslim women who face harassment.

Since Bill 21, the current law, was introduced in May, her group has seen a spike in the public harassment of Muslim women in Quebec.

“It’s like we opened the door: ‘Now, you can go ahead and discriminate,'” Saad said, calling the law “violent.”‘I feel like they are taking a part of me’

Saad immigrated to Canada with her family 30 years ago during the Lebanese Civil War and has lived in Quebec for 18 years. She says Quebec has been her true home ever since.

But she’ll be visiting Lebanon for the second time in those years this summer and wonders if it’ll feel more like home this time.

“I feel like they are taking a part of me, of my existence,” said Saad, who no longer wears a headscarf. She said it was a decision that took her months.

“To ask these women to take their hijab off, it’s like asking you to take your T-shirt off.”

Saad sees a silver lining, though.

“Now what has to be done, it’s to stand up for our rights as women. We are appropriating our cause; it’s women’s cause. So I will thank this government for what he’s creating, because he’s forcing us to come together.”

Source: After Quebec’s secularism law, Muslim women gather to figure out, ‘What can we do now?’

For Muslim women, Liberal victory a rejection of divisive politics

No surprises here:

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was not subtle about his use of cultural differences as a trigger for fear during the election campaign. His government pressed its case against a Muslim woman fighting to wear her niqab during her citizenship ceremony — and lost. It unveiled a “barbaric cultural practices” tipline for Canadians to report on their neighbours.

He made a debating point of his position that he’d never tell his daughter to cover her face, a moot point unless she converts to Islam. For Muslim-Canadian women the fact that those tactics backfired in the end is a validation of a particular view of Canada.

For Alia Hogben, the executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, it shows that Canadians “are rejecting all the divisive and racist and hate mongering that the Conservatives were doing and they’re showing who we really are. It gives me a huge amount of hope.”

Hogben said that for almost every single Muslim, Harper’s vocal opposition to Muslim women wearing the niqab at citizenship ceremonies as the case of Zunera Niqab, who had taken the government to court over the issue, made its way successfully through then legal process during the campaign, was a source of anxiety.

“During that period it was nerve wracking, depressing and discouraging,” she said.

Hogben said she was worried about these new values that were being propounded by the Conservatives.

“We couldn’t tell if Canadians would lean that way or not and now it’s a huge amount of relief that its been rejected,” she said.

“We’re not saying one party is any better than another, but we’re hoping that they will learn from what went on during the election and the kind of feelings that aroused for and against a group of people and that they will learn from that and make everybody welcomed back into the family of Canadians rather than dividing us.”

In a powerful speech to a crowded room of cheering supporters in Montreal, prime minister designate Justin Trudeau said a woman wearing a hijab told him she would vote for him because she wants to make sure that her little girl has the right to make her own choices in life.

“Have faith in your fellow citizens my friends, they are kind and generous. They are open minded and optimistic and they know in their heart of hearts that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian,” said Trudeau.

Liberal strategist at Crestview Strategy Group, Rob Silver, said there’s no room in Canada for divisive and mean politics.

“I think if anything the niqab issue backfired on Stephen Harper and I think that kind of divisive negative nasty politics will not be seen in Canada for a long time.”

Samer Majzoub, the president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, says by electing Trudeau, Canadians have sent a very strong message to politicians who have campaigned on “hatred and discrimination.”

“They have harvested what they have planted and lost and [were] defeated,” said Majzoub.

“The fact is that Canadians have followed what Canadians believe in—harmony, unity, human rights, that’s why we feel at ease on the subject,” he said.

For Muslim women, Liberal victory a rejection of divisive politics (paywall)

Lila Abu-Lughod: Do Muslim Women Need Saving?

A good reminder of the risks of stereotypes and the complexity of women’s lives, context and choices:

There is no doubt that Western notions of human rights can be credited for the hope for a better world for all women. But I suspect that the deep moral conviction people feel about the rightness of saving the women of that timeless homogeneous mythical place called Islamland is fed by something else that cannot be separated from our current geopolitical relations. Blinded to the diversity of Muslim women’s lives, we tend to see our own situation too comfortably. Representing Muslim women as abused makes us forget the violence and oppression in our own midst. Our stereotyping of Muslim women also distracts us from the thornier problem that our own policies and actions in the world help create the sometimes harsh conditions in which distant others live. Ultimately, saving Muslim women allows us to ignore the complex entanglements in which we are all implicated and creates a polarization that places feminism only on the side of the West.

Lila Abu-Lughod: Do Muslim Women Need Saving? | TIME.com.

Good enough for Nobel, but not for Quebec

Sheema Khan in The Globe, mocking the paternalism of Les feministes laiques de Québec and the “Janettes” (Les femmes voilées sont «manipulées», dit Janette Bertrand):

Feminism, we thought, was about empowering women to make choices for themselves. Instead, la feminisme laïque is the new patriarchy, with its condescending, my-way-or-the-highway attitude. But Muslim women are fusing a new breed of feminism, where spirituality melds with activism to advance the cause of both genders. Their role model is Malala – not Miley or Marois. Spirituality is seen not as an enemy, but as an ally in providing the impetus to seek equal opportunities for women in education, health, wealth and political participation.

Good enough for Nobel, but not for Quebec – The Globe and Mail.

And from within Quebec, the inevitable lettre ouverte replying to the Janettes, from “Les inclusives“. While the gradual inclusive approach to integration makes sense, may not necessarily end up with fewer hijabs in the end; but as long as women are participating in wider society, whether wearing a hijab or not, it doesn’t really matter:

…l’intégration des musulmanes voilées doit se faire petit à petit, sans brusquer les choses. «Ça prend trois générations pour intégrer un immigrant. Nous, on le fait souvent en deux générations. Mais si on commence à les bousculer, ça ne fonctionnera pas», dit-elle.

«C’est la société québécoise dans son ensemble qui va changer les valeurs de ces femmes. Leurs enfants vont fréquenter les garderies. Elles vont aller sur le marché du travail. Et les voiles vont tomber, un à un».

Les «inclusives» répliquent aux Janettes