• The Low Down

Don’t confront women wearing hijabs, please

The Editor,


I read with dismay Isabelle Roberge’s letter, “76 dead and counting,” (Oct. 12 edition). I am glad she resisted her misguided impulse to approach a woman she did not even know to ask why she was wearing a hijab. Choosing to wear a hijab should not be confused with condoning misogyny or supporting oppressive regimes anywhere.


It is right and important to support the courageous protesters and to condemn the violence in Iran. It is tragic and abhorrent that the Iranian “morality police” are torturing and murdering women for choosing to dress a certain way, that their own government is killing those who speak against it. The whole point of the protests in Iran is to remove that violent, authoritarian government, and for women to be free to dress the way they themselves choose.


I am the proud mother of a daughter who freely wears a hijab. Many Muslims choose to wear it as a vital part of their faith. Canadian Muslims are facing daily, open harassment, especially here in Quebec. Ms. Roberge could contact her provincial representative to express her thoughts on Bill 21, if she wants to address discrimination and government repression closer to home.


It is just another form of ignorant oppression to suggest that someone must dress a certain way because you think your way is better. Would Ms. Roberge tell a Jewish person they were wrong to wear a wig or a yarmulke? Would she feel entitled to approach a Sikh to tell them they should remove their turban, or ask a Christian why they wear a cross?


By all means, in the right setting, it is totally appropriate to discuss the hijab. If Ms. Roberge does not know any Muslims, and for anyone wishing to know more, contact the National Council of Canadian Muslims. Take the time to learn about Islam and what is being done to protect human rights, to address racism and discrimination.


I am glad that the innocent, hijab-wearing woman got through her day without being accosted and harassed. Hopefully she did not experience any other forms of violence.


I encourage everyone to think before they act. Inform yourselves. Take a good look at your motives before choosing to engage in behaviour that could be offensive and upsetting to others.


Teresa Bandrowska Wakefield, QC