A painting hangs on a wall in Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts. In varying hues of blue, soft yellow and beige, it is the portrait of a young woman. Her head is tilted slightly, her eyes looking into the distance. She is tight lipped with a resolved look on her face, but most noticeable of all is her sky-blue headscarf, emblazoned with a yellow Fleur-de-Lys- the national symbol of Quebec.
This is a self-portrait of Zahraa Sbaiti, a visual artist from Montreal, Quebec. Born and raised in Canada, Zahraa is 24 years old and of Lebanese decent. She is a student at Concordia University, soon graduating with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts.
With a new Liberal government in Quebec, the controversy around the proposed “Charter of Values” has abated. And while the new Premier has expressed his intent to address issues of reasonable accommodation, the divisiveness that marked the Parti Quebecois’ time in office has all but disappeared from the political discourse.
Muslim Link spoke to Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz of the Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem congregation in Montreal for his reaction to the election results.
As World Hijab Day is wrapping up, many of us who are advocates of religious freedom in Canada are grappling with outrage at how the tragic death of Naima Rharouity has been covered in some media.
Certainly, the hijab has come under increased scrutiny, thanks to the highly controversial values charter, proposed by the PQ government. The charter, which aims to enforce a rigid form of secularism within the province, has already been blamed for mounting abuse and harassment of Muslim women. Whether or not this law is passed, the coverage and subsequent reactions to Naima Rharouity's death further indicate that the floodgates of hatred towards Muslim women have already been opened. Every Muslim woman in the province, and possibly beyond, will be affected negatively by the racist and patriarchal discourses playing out during hearings on the charter at Quebec's national assembly.
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was commemorated worldwide last month on March 21, with the theme for this year being Racism and Sport, focusing on the importance of using universal activities such as sport to affirm fundamental human rights and help combat racism.
According to Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, racism remains a serious problem around the world today and is even prevalent in professional sports. He called on using this day to highlight the positive values of sports and promoting the values of equality and non-discrimination to combat racism.
“We must join forces to end racism and sport can help reach this goal,” he said in a UN released statement. “On this International Day, let us recommit to ending racial discrimination and realizing our vision of justice, equality and freedom from fear for all.”
Women wearing the niqab (face veil) will have an opportunity to talk candidly about their experiences to opinion and policy makers, through a new study by the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW).
The research, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, a government agency, will be carried out in consultation with Shahrzad Mojab, Professor at the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.