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The hijab: Freedom versus oppression

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The proposed charter of Quebec values is tearing the Montreal Community apart. Many Islam women feel that they are no longer welcome in Quebec. This charter which is packaged as unifying the various ethnic groups with the main culture is Quebec is causing controversy and dissention.

The proposed charter of values forbids religious symbols and headgear in the public sector. This has become a point of concern for many Muslim women who protest that wearing a hijab does not make their work inferior than the work of other women who do not wear the hijab. For years they have worked in the public sector in harmony with the general and ethnic community. Now they feel they are being singled out. Some women have already been harassed since the proposed charter first surfaced in the news.

These women remember how they once felt welcome and now they do not feel welcome anymore. They came to Quebec thinking they would have freedom of expression and good live. Even Muslim women who do not wear the hijab empathize with their Muslim sisters who do. The proposed charter is already making things difficult for them and the charter has yet to be approved.

Two sisters decided to show the diversity of ideas by bringing the debate to the forefront. They want to educate the general public about the hijab and about Muslim women. Their main point they wish to bring across is that Muslims are not all the same. Yes, they follow the Muslim religion but many of these Muslim women are strong women, feminists, and well-educated for the most part.

These sisters show the diversity among the community. One sister, Sama Al-OBaidy wears the hijab while her sister Yusr doesn’t. Sama is a business analyst and comes from a well-educated family. They started a group called “Support Another” when one woman tried to take off Sama’s hijab.

Both sisters say the wearing a hijab is a choice not a sign of oppression though they will not deny that some Muslim may feel like they are forced to wear it. The men in their lives do not control them nor tell them what to do. For Sama and Muslim women like her, the hijab is a symbol of modesty and a religious symbol showing humility before God.

Western women have often been told the hijab is enforced upon a woman by their men. These two women say it is not so.

Yursr is in the process of deciding if she wants to wear a hijab as a fashion statement and also in solidarity with her Muslim sisters.

These women are surprised that a debate should even exist about a hijab and so is this examiner. Muslim women are hurt. Canada prides itself on welcoming new people and new cultures into the Canadian mosaic. Unfortunately, Quebec has got it all wrong.



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