It has been 10 years since Quebec’s Bouchard – Taylor Commission recommended that all public officials who embody the authority and the neutrality of the state and its institutions, such as judges, Crown prosecutors, police officers, prison guards and the president and vice-president of the National Assembly of Québec be prohibited from wearing any visible religious symbols such as the hijab, turbans, yarmulkes and the crucifix.
Four consecutive governments have attempted to implement a law on separation of church and state, but have failed. This time the likelihood of success is certain.
The fact is that while the Sikh turban, Jewish yarmulkes and the Catholic crucifix are definitely religious symbols, the hijab is not. Rather it is a political symbol that until the late 1970s was unheard of in Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Turkey, Somalia and Nigeria. It was the uniform of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world.
Let’s hear from the world’s most prominent exponent of the hijab, newly-elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Somalia-born hijabi Ilhan Omar. Speaking to Vogue, Ms. Omar said: “To me, the hijab means power, liberation, beauty, and resistance.”
She admitted that “wearing her hijab allows her to be a walking billboard.” For Ilhan Omar the hijab is an Islamist flag just as Che Guevara’s beret was to wannabe revolutionaries or the KKK conehead is to White Supremacist ideology.
Closer to home, the charm offensive by Islamists trying to invoke White guilt and positioning themselves as ‘victims’ drew the support of most commentators. One self-declared feminist wrote in the Toronto Star: “Burqas offer Muslim newcomers a feeling of safety and comfort … As for hijabs, despite their religious purpose, they’re attractive as well as practical.” As a Muslim immigrant to Canada, I almost threw up.
Such ridiculous observations from Western Feminists, including the New Zealand Prime Minister, whose obsession with wearing the hijab as a fashion statement has drawn sharp criticism from Muslims within Quebec.
Muslim activist Ferid Chikhi reacting to the Quebec hijab debate wrote: “Whether we like it or not, what is most disturbing in Quebec is what I call malignant entryism by Islamists who want to impose their ideology on the host society at all costs while refusing to respect its laws.”
He and 23 other Quebec Muslims, including political scientist Djemila Benhabib, not only support the new CAQ bill for secularism in Quebec, they wrote to New Zealand’s prime minister protesting what they called her “banalisation of the veiling of women and girls” calling her “consent to become a living advertisement for this symbol of political Islam … unconscionable in the face of the Islamist agenda.”
The province’s most prominent Muslim politician, Moroccan-born Fatima Houda-Pepin, a former Deputy Speaker of the Quebec National Assembly has been at the forefront of the struggle against the hijab and burka for the better part of ten years.
In 2013 she said: “I refuse any drift toward cultural relativism under the guise of religion, to legitimize a symbol like the chador [Iranian Hijab], which is the ultimate expression of oppression of women, in addition to being the symbol of radical fundamentalism.”
Fortunately for us Muslims who are fighting the blight of political Islamism that threatens to eliminate us all, Quebec is standing on our side even as the rest of Canada’s intelligentsia, feminists, the Left and the trade union movement has abandoned us to the wolves.
From all of us victims of Islamism: Thank you Quebec. Vive le Québec!
Tarek Fatah, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress and columnist at the Toronto Sun, is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum.