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Accommodations in the name of respect for religion and stepping back on women’s rights

Letter of Protest To The Federation of School Boards of Québec

Tuesday 1 December 2009, by siawi

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

To the Federation of School Boards of Québec

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As Human Rights and Women’s Rights activists, we are both shocked and very worried about the decision of the Collège Marguerite De Lajemmerais in Montreal.

The Head of this state school offers a school-hidjab to students said to be Muslims, as part and parcel of the school uniform.

We are aware the divergence of opinions between La Centrale de l’enseignement du Québec which opposes veiling inside state schools and the Commission of Human Rights which thinks that banning it is discriminatory.

The Federation of Commissions Scolaires in Québec suggested to leave the decision to each Head of school.

The mere fact to ’offer’ the hidjab to ’ Muslim’ pupils gives legitimacy to the islamic veil, while wearing a veil is contested by a majority of Muslims who live their religion in the private sphere, as well as by numerous religious Muslim authorities.

This decision shows that one considers automatically as Muslim, girls born into Muslim communities and families which may not even define themselves as such and do not want religion to be a marker of their identity. Moreover, this decision ignores as well the will of those who, as believers, want to practice their religion without imposing the veil to their daughters.

In doing so, you participate in discrimination against young Canadian girls who want to be considered simply as Canadian citizens.

How could you avoid that girls with ’hidjab’ put pressure on girls that refuse the communal identity in which one want to trap them?

How to ignore today the different forms of pressure inflicted on girls, and women, in the name of customs supposed to be Islamic?

Muslim fundamentalists succeeded in promoting their religious and communal claims by pretending to be victims of racism; you responded to these claims by what you consider ’ reasonnable accommodations ’?

We oppose any racism and any discrimination, however we stand against accommodations in the name of religions.

We consider a duty to tell you that respect of cultures as you seem to conceive of it leads to a difference in Rights, to an under-citizenship, to a stepping back on women’s rights.

International Law, the International Charter on Human Rights, the International Convention on Children Rights, the Convention on Elimination of All Formes of Discriminations Against Women, top which Canada is a signatory must guide us so that no decision, no policy, be taken that would have a discriminatory effect on the majority of citizens.

We hope that you will understand that our only goal is to preserve an education system that would be free from any communal or religious pressure

yours sincerely

Signed by :

  • Women’s Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights (WICUR),
  • Lalia Ducos, militante associative, presidente de l’association WICUR, Initiative de Femmes pour la Citoyenneté et les Droits Universels (IFCDU)
  • SIAWI—Secularism Is A Womens Issue (siawi.org)
  • Marieme Helie Lucas, sociologue algérienne, fondatrice du reseau Women Living Under Muslim Laws, coordinatrice de SIAWI
  • Samia Allalou, journaliste algérienne secrétaire de Wicur
  • Hakim Arabdiou, militant associatif
  • Soad Baba-Aissa, militante associative, trésorière de Wicur
  • Cherifa Kheddar, Présidente de DJAZAIROUNA, association des Familles Victimes du terrorisme islamiste
  • Jeanine Caraguel, Algérienne, linguiste Paris
  • Amel Feve, responsable qualité, Paris
  • Catherine Deudon, photographe Paris
  • Bernice Dubois, féministe et déléguée du MAPP à l’ ONU
  • Annie Sugier, Présidente de la Ligue du Droit International des Femmes,
  • Aouicha Ouamrane, juriste algérienne
  • Aouicha Ouamrane, membre de la direction du Parti pour la Laicité et la démocratie(Algérie)
  • Françoise Liassine, professeur agrégée de philosophie
  • Rita Moreira, journaliste , Sao Paulo, Brasil
  • Lucette Hadjali, militante algérienne , fait partie des Anciennes Moudjahidates (combattantes) Algeriennes
  • Jeanne favret Saada, directeur d’études, EPHE (Paris)
  • Jean Pierre LLedo, cinéaste algérien
  • Anissa Lemouchi- Baba-Ali Turqui, pédiatre urgentiste ,Paris
  • Danielle Charest, lesbienne politique
  • Micheline Carrier, éditrice de Sisyphe (Québec)
  • Daisy Attali, membre de la Commission de lutte Contre les Intégrismes, Paris
  • Marthe Orfus, membre de la Commission de lutte Contre les Intégrismes, Paris
  • Monique Bouaziz, membre de la Commission de lutte contre les Intégrismes, Paris
  • Luce Sirkis, membre de la Commission de Lutte contre les Intégrismes, Paris
  • Malika Zouba
  • Ioana WIEDER Centre Audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir
  • Marie Claude baldo, enseignante
  • Gerard Baldo, membre KIWANIS, Asnieres France
  • Azar Majedi, Chair of Organisation for Women’s Liberation,
    Organisation for Women’s Liberation
  • André Gomar, militant de la laîcité, Saint Denis 93
  • Souad Inal, Algérie
  • Françoise Davignon, ambulancière SAMU Paris
  • Vanina Royer, infirmière anesthésiste, Paris
  • Dr Azzedine Ayachi, praticien Hospitalier, responsable médical SMUR pédiatrique SAMU, Paris
  • Linda Wiel-Curiel, avocate au Barreau de Paris, Ligue du Droit International des Femmes,
  • Michèle André, Senatrice, Présidente de la délégation Droits des Femmes du Senat, Ancienne Ministre
  • Initiative Féministe Européenne (IFE- EFI),
  • Huguette Chomski-Magnis, professeur agrégée, responsable associative Paris
  • Fewzi Benhabib, professeur de physique, Saint Denis Paris
  • A.Michard. Paris
  • Rym Helal, Montréal, Québec
  • Christine Bouchara, réviseuse, Paris France
  • Sabine Salmon, Présidente de l’association Femmes Solidaires, Paris, France
  • Michèle Viannes, Présidente de l’association Regards de Femmes, France
  • Anne Marie Lizin, Sénatrice belge, ancienne présidente du Sénat belge, Bruxelles, Belgique
  • Monique Dental, animatrice du Réseau « Ruptures »
  • Réseau Féministe « Ruptures »
  • Aisha Lee Shaheed, networker Wluml Canada/Pakistan
  • Kamila Sefta, Universitaire, Paris, France
  • Naouel Hamm- Miss, adjointe d’animation territorial, Perpignan, France
  • Nina Nassim, Espace femmes International, Genève
  • Laura Quidetti, Présidente Associazione, Marea, Italie
  • Nina Sankari, militante féministe laïque, Pologne
  • Nadia, Geerts, Initiatrice du Réseau d’actions pour la Promotion d’un Etat laïque, Belgique ,
  • Karim Bey Smail, France
  • Jean Paul Ducos, militant associatif, France
  • Asma Guenifi, Présidente Afemci, Paris
  • Yolanda Rouiller, Femmes en Noir, Cantabria, Espagne
  • Renée Blancheton, retraitée de l’enseignement,
  • Ariane Brunet, Canada,Co-Founder of the Urgent action Fund, Founder of The Coalition for Women’s Human Rights in Conflict Situation
  • Edith Rubinstein, Femmes en Noir Bruxelles, Belgique
  • Samy Durand, France
  • Malka Markovich, historienne , France
  • André Beaulieu, Montréal, Canada
  • Nourredine Saadi, professeur de droit à l’université, écrivain, France
  • WLUML, International Coordination, London (UK)
  • Fatou Sow, Sociologue, Dakar, Sénégal
  • Bachir Hadjadj, écrivain , Paris
  • Claire Michard, linguiste, analyste de l’idéologie sexiste dans le langage, Paris
  • Fatima Outaleb, Union de l’ Action Féminine Rabat, Maroc
  • Joelle Peschot, France
  • Association des Femmes Chefs de famille, Nouakchott, Mauritanie
  • Aminetou, Mint Moctar, présidente de l’Association des Femmes Chefs de Familles( AFCF) Mauritanie

Those who wish to endorse the above letter can still write to : laliaducos(at)gmail.com