Sunday, November 17, 2013

Headcovering Philosophy and Fear

"The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." 

You've heard the quote. You've seen the fear of women with their heads covered, the fear of seeing a man in a turban, or the fear of seeing a young man wearing a hoodie and not knowing what he's up to. But have you seriously contemplated the philosophy of fear of cultural differences leading to cultural changes? As the author of this article points out in his point of view, culture is going to change in some way, whether we would prefer it or not. But how are we going to react? With ignorance and fear? Or with a knowledge shared?

Click to read: "A Point of View: Behind the Veil", by Will Self, at BBC News online.

An excerpt:

. . . The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - and specifically our fear of cultural influence.

This is a fear that is seldom openly admitted to - or, rather, no sooner is it acknowledged than it is countered by an appeal to some incontrovertibly estimable aspect of what we take to be our own cultural heritage. There are manifold examples of this strange and neurotic dialectic, but let me concentrate on just one - the recent furore surrounding the admissibility of Muslim women giving evidence in British courts while veiled. I say furore, rather than controversy, because I don't think that many people - except hard-line adherents of political Islam - actually believe there's anything at issue here at all, and these same people don't believe in the jurisdiction of British courts anyway. For those of us who do accept this the assumption that truth-telling is best expressed by a steady gaze and an open face is so ingrained that it has never needed to be articulated - or, rather, no witness or defendant in a trial who wished to be convincing has heretofore considered it a good idea to stand up in court with their features obscured, whether by wearing the niqab or a joke-shop horror mask.
There may indeed be cases in which the indubitable piety and overweening modesty of some individuals requires a certain bending of convention, but on the whole I think we can afford to keep our nerve and look the truth about our cultural values full in the face. It is not that we need to worry that jurors and judges won't be able to assay the veracity of evidence given from behind the veil - after all, serving police, military personnel and members of the intelligence agencies are often allowed to do just this - it's that they may well be inclined to take it at its literal face value, which is obscured and therefore, ipso facto, dubious.

http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/71130000/jpg/_71130191_french-protest.jpg
photo of french protest from Getty Images, attached to the BBC article

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wanted: Doctors In Head Coverings ... from Quebec

‘We don’t care what’s on your head:’ Ontario hospital recruits Quebec health workers 
By Carmen Chai Global News

An Ontario hospital is campaigning to recruit doctors and nurses from Quebec in the wake of the French province’s move to ban religious clothing in its contentious ‘values’ plan.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Quebec In the News - Follow the Debate

The following news stories cover more on the problem of head covering in Quebec. Click the linked titles to read more.

"Proposal would ban religious garb in public sector in Quebec"
UPI.com
... Under the proposed ban, all public workers, including teachers and doctors, would be prevented from wearing jewelry, like cross necklaces, head coverings and any other religious apparel, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday. 
"To force people into a situation where they have to decide between their job and their religion or decide whether or not they are Quebecers first or Muslim first -- for me, that's not a question we should be asking people to think about, as Canadians or as Quebecers," [Federal Liberal Leader Justin] Trudeau said." ...

The Globe and Mail
(This article was written by a secularist who fired his doctor for using the phrase "God's will", so his conclusive reasoning against head covering ban has a certain bias.)
... The secular philosophy behind the French and Québécois laws, known as laïcité, has a noble tradition. It was first seen in the United States, where the predominantly atheist authors of its Constitution wrestled with the question of how to create a single government for a country founded and populated by competing extremist sects. The answer was to separate religion from public life, creating a neutral public sphere and making religion strictly a matter for private life.
This idea was adopted even more heartily in France (alkthough the idea of restricting clothing is a recent innovation), and in Turkey, where it is still illegal to wear Islamic head coverings in government-funded places.
And there are understandable reasons why Quebeckers are more open than others to the idea: The memory of religious interference is far more fresh. From the 1930s to the 1960s, the Union Nationale party of Maurice Duplessis created an effective Roman Catholic theocracy, harshly regulating private life. For historical and emotional reasons, laïcité holds a greater appeal.
But that doesn’t mean these charters are a good idea. You need to go back to the basic question: What problem are they attempting to solve?
Neither the French nor the Québécois charters were built on the idea of creating a secular public sphere. Rather, they both were born of bigoted attitudes toward Muslim immigrants, papered over with a slapdash bid for secularism that fails to confront the actual issues involved."   ...
North Shore News
(This article was also written by a secularist, but one who seems to understand living alongside a variety of other beliefs, unlike the above writer, who is more actively seeking to eliminate religion.)
..."Worst of all has been the weird habit of constantly claiming to be a victimized minority, while increasingly trying to stomp on non-Francophone minorities.
Earlier this year, we saw the Quebec Soccer Federation ban players from wearing turbans or other religious head coverings on the pitch.
Now the Parti Québécois is proposing a ban on any religious head coverings or sizeable religious symbols for all public employees.
...
Obviously, this new proposed law is stupid, racist, and if it was held up to the values of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, would stand as much chance of surviving as a delicate origami crane placed inside the engine of a large jetliner.
Why is this law being proposed in the first place? Marois has defended the so-called Charter of Quebec Values as part of the unique Québécois culture of secularism.
Well, I'm so full of secularism it's coming out my ears, and that's a load of steaming horse manure.
The freedom of people in Quebec to practise their religion or culture should only end when it causes demonstrable harm to others.
Let's say that I firmly believe that I must, at all times, wear a bedazzled purple pirate hat. Is this belief backed up by centuries of religious philosophy and tradition? Nope. Is it a statement about a proud cultural heritage? Nope. Should the government be allowed to say that I can't wear my spangly purple hat? Absolutely not. The point of freedom of religion means even freedom for dummies like me to believe whatever we want.
This law is not about bringing Quebecers together and uniting people in la belle province, as Marois and her supporters have claimed. It's about staking out a tribal enclave and making it clear to those who aren't white, pure laine Francophones that they aren't welcome.
Quebec has turned from a cool young rebel of the 1960s, with its Quiet Revolution and radical politics, into a stodgy, aging, xenophobic old twit, shaking his cane at the kids and telling them to get off his lawn. So basically, it's doing what all the other old hippies have been doing since the 1980s."  ...
 - See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/stodgy-old-quebec-is-no-longer-a-cool-cat-1.608837#sthash.Nu2aCWWE.dpuf

Worst of all has been the weird habit of constantly claiming to be a victimized minority, while increasingly trying to stomp on non-Francophone minorities.
Earlier this year, we saw the Quebec Soccer Federation ban players from wearing turbans or other religious head coverings on the pitch.
Now the Parti Québécois is proposing a ban on any religious head coverings or sizeable religious symbols for all public employees.
It's like PQ leader Pauline Marois was stung by one wasp, and then decided to wear an entire hive as a hat while jumping up and down vigorously.
Obviously, this new proposed law is stupid, racist, and if it was held up to the values of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, would stand as much chance of surviving as a delicate origami crane placed inside the engine of a large jetliner.
Why is this law being proposed in the first place? Marois has defended the so-called Charter of Quebec Values as part of the unique Québécois culture of secularism.
Well, I'm so full of secularism it's coming out my ears, and that's a load of steaming horse manure.
The freedom of people in Quebec to practise their religion or culture should only end when it causes demonstrable harm to others.
Let's say that I firmly believe that I must, at all times, wear a bedazzled purple pirate hat. Is this belief backed up by centuries of religious philosophy and tradition? Nope. Is it a statement about a proud cultural heritage? Nope. Should the government be allowed to say that I can't wear my spangly purple hat? Absolutely not. The point of freedom of religion means even freedom for dummies like me to believe whatever we want.
This law is not about bringing Quebecers together and uniting people in la belle province, as Marois and her supporters have claimed. It's about staking out a tribal enclave and making it clear to those who aren't white, pure laine Francophones that they aren't welcome.
Quebec has turned from a cool young rebel of the 1960s, with its Quiet Revolution and radical politics, into a stodgy, aging, xenophobic old twit, shaking his cane at the kids and telling them to get off his lawn. So basically, it's doing what all the other old hippies have been doing since the 1980s.
- See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/stodgy-old-quebec-is-no-longer-a-cool-cat-1.608837#sthash.Nu2aCWWE.dpuf
"Q&A: Quebec's religious garb debate intensifies - Philosopher Jocelyn Maclure on freedom of religion in a secular society"
CBC News
(This is an edited transcript of the interview with author and philosopher Jocelyn Maclure, Montreal resident and professor at Laval University in Quebec City.)

First Question: "Should the state have a role in secularizing society?"

Jocelyn Maclure: The state should be secular in the sense that it should be separate from religious powers so that it can treat all citizens equally and respect their freedom of conscience and religion. But the state should not support secularization or the erosion of religious beliefs and practices.
One of the basic principles of secularism is freedom of conscience and religion. So it should not be anti-religious, it should not criticise religion, it should leave it up to the people to decide.   ...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Quebec’s proposed ban on headcoverings

"Critics call Quebec’s proposed ban on religious headwear ‘Putinesque’ " - The Globe and Mail

What is the correlation with French-speaking and the distaste for head coverings?

The problems with head coverings for men and women in Quebec are ongoing. This is the latest.

Quebec is heading into another fierce debate over the future of religious freedom in the province with the Parti Québécois government set to release a Charter of Quebec Values that could ban religious headwear everywhere from daycares to hospitals.
Read the linked article for more, including to links to video and more articles on this, including the reversal of Quebec's ban on turbans for soccer players.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Philippines: Teacher Restrictions Are Only on Face Veils, Not on Hijabs - Southeast Asia Real Time - WSJ

Click to read: "Philippines: Teacher Restrictions Are Only on Face Veils, Not on Hijabs - Southeast Asia Real Time - WSJ"
(Wall Street Journal: Southeast Asia)
photo from the article, and Associated Press

Article begins:
MANILA — The Philippines’ Department of Education clarified Wednesday that it is not banning its Muslim teachers from wearing head coverings.
Last week, the department unveiled a new order requesting that Muslim teachers remove their niqab, or face-covering veils, when they teach. In the July 16 order, the department asked Muslim teachers teaching Arabic Language and Islamic Values Education classes to remove any face-covering veils in the classroom. The order sparked concern that the department was ignoring the teachers’ religious rights.
Muslims’ right to cover their faces has been a controversial issue in some countries. France, which banned the public use of full-face veils in 2011, has been struggling with riots in the last week over the enforcement of the law.
I personally wish this were not at the level of misunderstanding that it is. Head covering is mandated in the Quran; face covering is not. "There is no clear-cut authentic hadith to the effect of making the face veil obligatory." 

To ask a woman to remove her face covering does not infringe on her right to cover her head modestly. It is a matter of safety, of communication, of personality, even of individual worth. In short, I personally do not consider face covering to fall under the same category as head covering.

Comments are always welcome.

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Apologies for not keeping up with ThoseHeadcoverings this summer. Keep in touch, send stories, comment or ask questions.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Head Coverings OK for Football and Soccer

So, I've been busy during the last month, but I'm sure that many head covering loved ones have heard a bit of the news during June concerning FIFA and Quebec and rulings about headcoverings. Here's a re-cap (pardon the pun):
June 14, 2013 -- The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) said in a statement Friday that it is temporarily authorizing the wearing of male head covers at all levels of Canadian soccer, applying a 2012 ruling that allowed specially designed hijabs for women.
wearing turbans to protest Quebec soccer fed's ban
The statement outlines certain rules for allowing the male headwear on the pitch.
“(FIFA) authorises the CSA to permit all players to wear head covers ... in all areas and on all levels of the Canadian football community,” the statement from the world body reads.
FIFA’s position comes four days after the Canadian Soccer Association suspended Quebec’s soccer federation because the provincial body banned Sikh headwear.  Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/sports/soccer/FIFA+fine+with+Sikh+head+coverings/8526036/story.html#ixzz2XTYHiPy7

Yes, the Canadian Soccer Association had suspended Quebec over the turban ban, saying it had to intervene because the Quebec Soccer Federation showed no sign of overturning its decision. The suspension prohibited Quebec teams from participating in or hosting interprovincial matches and national competitions, thereby banning 20 Ontario teams - hundreds of players, coaches and spectators - from traveling to and competing in a tournament in Quebec.
The Quebec soccer federation, in typical "what are those headcoverings for anyway?" fashion, claimed safety precautions, and wouldn't budge on their ban until the world headquarters, FIFA, laid down an official international law.

So FIFA did.

And so:
June 15, 2013 -- The Quebec Soccer Federation (QSF) announced it has reversed its ban on players wearing turbans or related religious headwear on the pitch, saying it is pleased with the international soccer body's clarification on the issue, and it's "deeply sorry" if anyone was offended.
Oh, those nasty headcoverings. Ruining soccer/football games now. But, it's not the cloth that is the problem. The problem is not understanding those headcoverings.

As Amal Singh Chahal (who lives in Toronto and helped to put together the boycott page linked above) was quoted: “Excluding kids just because they have uncut hair and they’re keeping a turban to keep it tied is just unfathomable. I can’t believe it in this day and age."


Did you know that's why the Sikhs wear turbans? Because they have uncut hair and the turban keeps it tied up and clean? That's part of the reason. It is also a symbol of equality, begun in an era when only the high class wore turbans, showing that all Sikhs are equally royal. It is a symbol of their commitment and obedience to their faith, to God, and to those who came before them. It is said that the turban becomes truly a part of the believer's head, just as Sikhism is a part of his entire life. Even when playing soccer.

photo from CBC.ca

For more on "why Sikhs wear turban", see the following articles:
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Oh, and this just in: a Sikh bus driver just won the right to wear a turban in Finland. Just so you know.