Feb. 25th: Ottawa Hijab Solidarity Day #hijabsolidarityWritten by Chelby Daigle
The City for All Women Initiative (CAWI), in partnership with the Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres, the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP), and the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence against Women (OCTEVAW), are holding Ottawa Hijab Solidarity Day on Thursday, February 25th, from 4pm to 6pm at the City of Ottawa, Councillors’ Lounge, Second Floor.
Ottawa’s Chief of Police Charles Bordeleau, along with a number of other dynamic speakers and performers, will be participating. CAWI will also be running a social media campaign with #hijabsolidarity on Feb. 25th aimed at challenging Islamophobia and stereotypes about Muslim women who veil, while showcasing the work Muslim women are doing to challenge violence against women within Muslim communities, Canada, and around the world.
The idea for the event grew out of the escalation in harassment against visibly Muslim women over the last few months in Ottawa, an escalation which even police services have recognized.
The backlash against the event, which includes a planned protest, has actually helped to highlight just why such an event is needed. If mention of the hijab can trigger such an outpouring of outrage and statements equating the wearing of the veil by any Muslim woman with her support for everything from repressive laws in Iran and Saudi Arabia, to ISIS and the Taliban, it is now clear to many people just why Muslim women who veil are facing the discrimination and violence they do in Ottawa.
City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) has a long history of working with Muslim women in Ottawa who are inspiring and dynamic leaders in their respective communities. The most famous graduate of CAWI is Fartuun Adan who received theInternational Women of Courage award from the U.S. Department of State, delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama. Why? Because she went back to her homeland to developed Sister Somalia, the country’s first rape crisis centre. At an event in her honour CAWI held at City Hall, attended by the Mayor and city councillors, Adan fondly remembered her times with CAWI advocating for women’s issues at the municipal level. “When the women came together to make their voices heard in Somalia, I thought of the peach scarves CAWI women wear to show unity when going before City Council; so we all dressed in bright pink hijabs to give us courage,” Fartuun said.
Or look at some of the speakers and performers that CAWI has organized to participate in Ottawa Hijab Solidarity Day.
Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, who has worked to build and support institutions for girls and women’s education in Afghanistan will be a keynote speaker. Her work, recognized with a Leadership Award from Vital Voices, like that of many others, is a direct affront to the Taliban and their ilk, she, like many of her colleagues, lives with the spectre of retaliatory violence from these groups.
Roua Alijed is a spoken word artist whose poetry focuses on social justice. She has become a regular performer at events aimed at addressing violence against women in the city because of her hard-hitting poetry confronting domestic violence and rape culture. She will be performing at OCTEVAW's International Women's Day event on March 8.
Fartuun Adan, Sadiqa Basiri Saleem, and Roua Alijed all have chosen to wear hijab.
The belief and constant insistence that all Muslim women who veil are either helpless victims of oppression or acolytes of an "Islamist" ideology that hates freedom of choice, social equality and wants to impose "Sharia Law" everywhere doesn’t account for women like these. And that is why this hatred and ignorance needs to be challenged.
Women like Fartuun, Sadiqa, and Roua don’t need to have to deal with being held collectively guilty for every terrible thing individuals, political parties, states and terrorist groups have done in the name of Islam, nor do they need to face verbal and physical assaults motivated by Islamophobia because, frankly, they are busy working to make Canada and their homelands a safer place for women.
On February 25th, consider showing your solidarity for women like these and others in our city by attending Ottawa Hijab Solidarity Day or following and sharing CAWI's posts with #hijabsolidarity.
Note to people leaving comments: If you plan on leaving hateful and ignorant comments on this post, you are very welcome as they just continue to help build support for this event from individuals, groups and organizations that had not been involved before because they did not understand why it was so important. You are helping them understand why it is important so Thank You.
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