Amid niqab controversy, women ask Harper if they meet dress code

Rachel Browne on the hashtag #DressCodePM that lit up social media in an effort to parody the government’s stance on the niqab


 
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Nariman Eldoraini gives a thumbs up as she checks her Niqab in a mirror during a gathering in Montreal, Sunday, January 12, 2014, to oppose the proposed Quebec Values Charter. (Graham Hughes/CP)

Nariman Eldoraini gives a thumbs up as she checks her hijab in a mirror during a gathering in Montreal, Sunday, January 12, 2014, to oppose the proposed Quebec Values Charter. (Graham Hughes/CP)

For Farrah Khan, a counsellor at a Toronto clinic for women experiencing violence, the last several months have signalled a growing sentiment of Islamophobia in Parliament, and across Canada. The government’s anti-terror and “barbaric cultural practices” bills haven’t helped, she says, and she’s seeing Muslim women come into the clinic saying they’re being attacked on the subway and at school.

Even a senior Conservative senator, Marjory LeBreton, acknowledged this week that the party needs to “work harder” so that Muslims don’t feel alienated. And Stephen Harper’s Tuesday comments about women wearing niqabs during their Canadian citizenship ceremonies made things seem worse.

“Why would Canadians, contrary to our own values, embrace a practice at that time that is not transparent, that is not open, and frankly is rooted in a culture that is anti-women?” he told the House of Commons.

Khan says these sort of comments deflect from acts of violence against women the government should be speaking out about. “We should be addressing the more than 1,000 missing and murdered indigenous women,” she said in a phone interview with Maclean’s. “As a feminist and as a Muslim woman, it’s difficult for me to see that Muslim women’s bodies are being used as a battleground. It’s anti-women to dictate what women should and shouldn’t wear.”

That’s why she was thrilled to see her frustration shared by hundreds of people using the hashtag #DressCodePM, an attempt to criticize and parody the government’s stance on the niqab.

It all started Wednesday morning:

 

Some remained solemn and earnest.

Here’s Farrah Khan’s:

And some got creative.

But people made their point that they weren’t happy. Shireen Ahmed, an activist and sports writer who wears a hijab, joined in this afternoon. “I took great offence to the comment,” she said over the phone. “It’s like some bad Monty Python episode. It’s becoming so ridiculous that our elected officials are that ignorant. They’re not even covering up their bigotry–full pun intended.”

She hopes this support for Muslim women will continue after the hashtag dies down.

“I’m a Canadian of Pakistani descent, born and raised in Halifax. I played hockey, I eat poutine, I speak French. I’m pretty much the Canadian stereotype,” she says. “It’s disheartening, but I will remain hopeful. We have an election coming up soon.”


 

Amid niqab controversy, women ask Harper if they meet dress code

  1. I happen to agree with the prime minister. I’ve worked in a Muslim country and was forced to cover my face when in public. This is my country and if they want to be a part if it then they should be forced to uncover their face. Not everywhere as I was in their country but at the citizen ceremony where the PM was talking about. Some people take everything to extremes instead of sticking to the facts. We have lost our identity as Canadians because some of us choose to take everything to extremes. Grow up Canada. Get an identity and stick to it. Stop accepting everything from everyone and every culture. No need to go to extremes all the time. Most of the comments so far have been pretty extreme and not about citizenship at all.

  2. Nonsense!
    The PM was talking about a ‘swearing in ceremony’ to become a Canadian citizen.
    The wee little minds of some Canadians and immigrants take it to ridiculous levels. It is really laughable; when you see what so many people in most Muslim countries have to seriously put up with…blood, guts and rape.
    Thank goodness they can laugh about it in Canada.
    Election issue? Please smarten up and get a real life!!

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