Ottawa Hijab Day and the Ottawa Citizen

On Thursday, February 25, Ottawa City Hall hosted Ottawa Hijab Day, a day where non-Muslim women were invited to try on the controversial scarf in "solidarity with their sisters".

The Capital's main newspaper, after receiving nothing but negative comments about Ottawa Hijab Day, closed off comments and published an unabashed endorsement of the hijab concluding with a plea by the police for the participants to help them stamp out "Islamophobia".

The following are mostly respectful comments, which dictated in some peoples' mind an end to the discussion. They are presented in order of likes (responses to comments are indented). The most significant, in my opinion, being the one about a demonstration against the city hosting this type of event – what next, Christians inviting Muslims to City Hall to try out the Cross as an accessory – which the Citizen never mentioned.

Sadly, four women in Canada were killed by a male member of their own family because they didn't want to wear the hijab and had "become too westernized." You live in Canada. Nowhere in the Koran does it state that a woman must have her hair covered. That is a part of Sharia law which has NO place in Canada.


We should not be celebrating symbols of a pro-rape, misogynistic, homophobic religion.


I support women wearing what they want but I draw a line at swastikas, kkk hoods, and the hijab/niqab/burka. It is a physical demonstration of support for extremism and that they recognise sharia law only. I see it as a symbol of Muslim supremacist movement ...

When I contacted the organizers I was blocked, there was no response. This day was not about discussing or information sharing it was about them dictating to others. I read an article by an Iranian expat human rights activist that the meeting prior to the hijab day people were not permitted questions of comments they were to ONLY listen. This further supports my assertion that this is a Muslim supremacist event.

I am aware that in Islam non-Muslims are seen as subhuman. As a First Nations person this attitude has been encountered before, from Christians who also tried to force their belief on us. That is most certainly not welcome. Tyranny from an outside culture is not something I support.

Multiculturalism is something Islam frowns upon and does not tolerate. Islam is ant-democracy. I see Islam hurt[ing] many non-Muslims and in doing so harms Muslims in a very serious way. And example of this is the Palestinians strapping bombs to their own children in their hatred of Israel. The FG [Female Genital Mutilation?], child brides, and honor killings perpetuated even today in Muslim majority countries and defended by Muslims world wide.

I certainly do not advocate any violence against this group. And I support their right to practice their religion so long as it does not infringe on the human/civil/animal rights of others. To me a hijab says only sharia law (which infringes on human/civil/animal rights), hijabs state the wearer respects only sharia law, and views international, national, and local laws as invalid unless they are sharia law. I am not in solidarity with Muslim supremacists any more than I would be [with] white supremacists or Nazis.


Sagiv ... Your argument that the the hijab/niqab/burka is a physical demonstration of support for extremism is a valid one.

The event at city hall is in keeping with salafist Tariq Ramadan's exhortation to Muslim women to invest (my translation of "investir") i.e. invade the public space dressed in traditional Islamic garbs as a way of promoting Islam everywhere.

It was Tariq Ramadan's mother, Wafa al-Banna, the daughter of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, who instructed her son in the salafist theology which guides the actions of Islamic State, and which her son would see propagated worldwide, assisted by the non-threatening example of females on parade to conceal the encroachment on the secular of an intolerant brutal ideology.


Many women consider the hijab a sign of oppression imposed by a prudish, misogynous man. For others, it is a sign of modesty demanded by a god.

Asra Q. Nomani is a former Wall Street Journal reporter and is co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement and author of Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam. and Hala Arafa retired news editor at the Arabic Branch of the Voice of America are two Muslim female voices who side with those who argue that wearing the hijab "in solidarity" is not helpful, and said so on the front page of the New York Times.

Wearing the Hijab in Solidarity Perpetuates Oppression first appeared in the New York Times January 6, 2016.


Bernard ... God does not demand modesty. that is "man's" world ... for god, humility is appropriate... not hubris.


I agree, and no goddess, to my knowledge, has gone on record saying her sex must dress has her male counterpart demands.


Bernard, I have seen where hijab niqab burka apologists try to compare the Islamic coverings to the garb that is worn by Christian nuns and other Christian women such as Mennonites with their organdy bonnets. This is a specious argument for several reasons. One is that many Christian nuns now wear contemporary street clothes... So if they ever wore the medieval style for religious reasons they increasingly abjure it for whatever is secular. Also the Islamists arguing that Christian women also "cover" for reasons of modesty shows how little they understand Christianity .

In the Christian faith, it is my understanding is that modesty is party of the world of man, not God's kingdom, where there is no such thing as shame. The Mennonite bonnet is worn by women to show spiritual humility, not modesty, hence the choice of transparent fabric --- spiritually one has nothing to hide from God.

I'm afraid the Islamic thing is not about the spiritual world but rather about the flesh, as we can see in their conception of paradise being about sex fetish and virgins where in "Christian" paradise we are all equal souls before God (as Jesus pointed out, in heaven there is no marriage nor need for it as we are reunited with our Creator). Islamic "theology" is full of hubris.


Dorrie ... I may be repeating the following. Why it was there one minute then it disappeared, I have no idea.

Nabila is a French-speaking Muslim comedian from Tunisia who, a few years ago called Montreal her home. In a serious interview on the French network of the CBC (Radio-Canada) she explained that women were expected to cover their head because the Prophet Muhammad believed that the sight of a single woman’s hair would get men thinking about the woman’s pubic hair and one thing would lead to another.

Another explanation found in the hadiths (sayings and example of the Prophet Muhammad) is that it was about concealing your facial features when answering the call of nature.

Getting back to N... She had an act which at the time had yet to be produced in public, and may never have been, called “Arab and a Slut” (my translation of “Arabe et cochonne”.)

One question she was asked was whether she was afraid of appearing on stage when the first Muslim woman comedian to dare to do so was assaulted by Muslim men during her show in London, England. (I saw part of her show (the British comedian) on television, it was quite tame, no jokes about the Prophet or the Koran. Still in the eyes of some Muslim men she was deserving of a beating.)

“Yes,” she said “but it has to be done”.

From my understanding, she had deliberately chose the name of her act to make fun of Muslim men’s obsession with sex and virgins, an obsession, she explained, that was having a detrimental impact on Muslim women everywhere.


I am all for women and men wearing whatever they wish to for cultural and religious reasons and go out of my way to be friendly and supportive, including to people in whole body coverings. But this event is not educational, it is provocative. We have a teen who was murdered in Canada by her family for not wearing a hijab, Aqsa Parvez, and so many women suffering in other ways right now under Islam. Where is the solidarity with them?

So many moderate and progressive Muslims and others have multiple reasons to object to this kind of an event, including me, as it suggests women are suffering in Ottawa in this tolerant, permissive, diverse society and that it is Ottawa that has to change. When the record of human rights right across the Muslim countries is so abysmal and any tolerance these women have discovered has been from their experience in the West, it is wrong and insulting.

This group has not tolerated any alternative views of this event and has called any and all different ideas, no matter how polite, Islamophobia. They have complained to CAIR [Council on American–Islamic Relations], a group strongly suspected of radical and terrorist ties, about anyone who has objected ...


Kay ... Racist was once the goto epithet to put a stop to any discussion that hit too close to home until enough people pointed out that Islam is a religion not a race; now it is Islamophobe and Islamophobia which serve the same purpose.


Bernard ... in their live blog reporting of this event, one of the supporters said "islamophobia is a definite act of violence against women


Beverley ... This is another instance of believers looking for special consideration because of their religion. Here is what Soheib Bencheikh, respected Imam and theologian and former Grand Mufti of the Mosque of Marseille, the largest mosque in France, had to say about Muslim Canadians who do this (my translation):

"I am completely outraged, outraged even though I am use to Muslims demanding special treatment [because they are Muslims], but I don’t believe that this is the wish of the majority of Muslims living in Canada. I am also outraged by the attitude of some non-Muslim Canadians because, if they want to respect Muslims, it is not by further singling them out for special treatment. If we want to show respect for Muslims as citizens of Canada, it is to see them as typical Canadians, modern [and] enlightened, and [Canadian] women who enjoy rights equal to men in every respect, etc. This is showing respect, this is the type of equitable treatment that Muslims expect from this country."


Beverly and Bernard, they have a lot of nerve calling Islamophobia violence. It's metaphorical violence at best and when you compare that to REAL violence, even right here in Canada committed within Islam, it's ridiculous ...

You understand when they say Islamophobia, it is people like us, i.e.., anyone with their own opinion, with another idea, and ANY criticism at all, for any reason! If we want to stop FGM (female genital mutilation) in Canada = OOPS we're Islamophobic. If we don't think a private religious symbol that has oppressed women in the past be used to celebrate anything: OOPS, we're Islamophobic.

We're are in a democracy and we're STILL entitled to our own views and do not have to be shamed into keeping silent by being called a name by people who themselves clearly will not tolerate different ideas.


Kay McLeod well said Kay.


Thanks so much, Beverley. I'm sure there are a few looks and with all the terrorism going on, there can be some people who aren't nice to people they associate with that, even incorrectly. But it's NOTHING compared to what's going on within Islam and from Islam and the the purpose of bringing it up is to shift the focus from those problems and make US the problem. It's a technique to silence and subdue people. Some are fooled, but we all aren't, and while we still have the freedom to speak out and disagree, we all must.

Nice talking to you all!!!! Take care!


"I want everyone to know what it's like to wear the hijab," CAWI volunteer Stephanie Roy said. She brought all the scarves."

At city hall today, scarves were optional. One day it could be your local bar where women are offered a scarf, and it won't be optional; men will still be able to dress as they bloody well please, however.

No Scarf, No Service!


I say let the slave freely wear the garb of her slavery, but let us not celebrate her enslavement.

John B.

The hijab is as much to do with religion as a pair of sandals. It has always and will always be a means for insecure men to hide the faces of the women they own. If women can be brainwashed into thinking a hijab is a religious article, they can be taught to believe anything. A religion any religion, is a reflection of the good in all of humanity, not to be used as a means to extend ones will and suppress women, because we as men can't control ourselves. God is not a man, by any means, God is in our soul. Religion is living free.


I support women's right to wear whatever they like but this is terribly one-sided affair. In Saudi Arabia and Iran there is no choice - you cover up or you invite the attentions of the street religious police. If this were an inclusive event, and included Canadian Muslim women who rejected the veil I would support it. As it is this is just propaganda promoted by government and a compliant media.

John A.

What twisted logic! This is rubbish, plain and simple!


Should women be forced not to wear the hijab? Of course not. Should women who wear it be subject to taunts and having it torn from them? Of course not. Having said that the hijab is not a neutral piece of clothing. It is a symbol of oppression of women all around the world. I first became aware of the hijab as a symbol of intolerance and as a human rights issue when I read about the murder of Aqsa Parvez. I have, since then, read widely on the issue from numerous human rights activists all around the world, including women within the Muslim faith itself.

We are led to believe that speaking out on this issue is a sign of intolerance, of Islamophobia, of hatred, bigotry, racism. What if it is none of the above. What if it is people like myself who see no reason to celebrate the hijab while women are still being oppressed, imprisoned, murdered for not wearing it. Instead, my challenge to these women in Ottawa would be to hold another event showing solidarity with those women within Islam who are oppressed and persecuted because of this article of clothing.

My challenge to these women would be to have a take off your hijab day to show solidarity with your oppressed sisters in Iran, in Saudi Arabia and numerous other countries in the world, including this country, Canada, the country of Aqsa Parvez.

In conclusion, the hijab is not a neutral piece of clothing. It is a symbol of intolerance within Islam. It is a human rights issue. There is nothing here to celebrate.


Shame on you Mayor of Ottawa! You should know better!


Was this really necessary Ottawa? seriously?


Last word from me. This is a secular country where you not only have freedom of religion you have freedom from religion. The hijab is religious garb and the government should not be promoting Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses or atheism. By all means we should be promoting bridges between different cultures but lets be honest and note that this has the look of a government initiated invitation to conversion. I look forward to a more inclusive, rather than divisive, approach by government to solve this problem.

John A.

I have to ask myself why this article is so one-sided. It has been spoon-fed by the CAWI (City for all Women Initiative) folks, with a story line coming from the NCCM (National Council of Canadian Muslims). You will see from the comments below (not racist, but concerned, rational), that there IS another side.

It is odd that the Citizen journalist did not come outside to interview the citizens who were protesting Hijab Solidarity Day!

She might have learned something about the meaning of hijab, instead of being dazzled by the pretty ladies in their (uncharacteristically) colourful hijabs! She might have questioned whether it was appropriate for the City to be funding CAWI, and for religious propaganda to be being expounded from a Government Building (no separation of mosque and state?) or whether it was appropriate for the Chief of Police to be there.... But then, that would be journalism!


Like so many others who have commented I really question not the good will but the knowledge, logic and awareness of those who imagine that the hijab can or should be a symbol of solidarity for all women. It is at best a symbol of piety and personal faith and at worst a symbol of life threatening oppression of those who chose not to wear it. I say let's honour women ---and not their symbols of honour!


The hijab represents the subjugation of women.


Bernard Payeur February 25, 2016

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