From The Canadian Press:

After months of balancing a woman’s religious beliefs with her desire to learn French, the Quebec government stepped into her classroom to offer an ultimatum: take off the niqab or drop the course.

The woman opted to keep her Islamic face-covering and has filed a human-rights complaint against the government.

In a province where the government frequently faces accusations of doing too much to accommodate minorities, these actions have prompted a fair bit of praise. [In Canada, as in Europe and much of the Middle East, opposition to the niqab and burqa is strong. These identity-annihilators are outrageous anywhere, but they’re real insults in university settings.]

The woman began taking a French course designed for immigrants at a Montreal college in February but she refused to remove her niqab while men were present .  [As you read, note that the woman’s motives, as presented here, have nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with hatred and fear of men.]

The college was initially willing to accommodate her, but eventually balked as her demands escalated.

According to a report in a Montreal newspaper, she was allowed to give an oral with her back to the class and asked men to move so they wouldn’t face each other. [Wouldn’t face other men? Wouldn’t face her? Whatever.] [Update, from another source: “[S]he demanded that male students who were sitting around her move their places so that she could sit surrounded by women. That was accommodated by the school.” … Good morning, class. Okay, ladies! Form your phalanx!]

The breaking point occurred when the woman again refused to take off the niqab, though teachers had stressed it was essential they see her face to correct her enunciation and facial expressions.

In what appears to be a highly unusual move, provincial Immigration Minister Yolande James intervened. Officials from her department, acting with the minister’s knowledge, met with the woman to discuss her options.

“The government has specific pedagogical objectives in its French courses,” said James’s spokesman, Luc Fortin.

“We couldn’t accept that these objectives, or the learning environment in the class, be compromised.”

Several groups, including several teachers’ unions, applauded the government for drawing a line in the sand. So did moderate Muslim groups…


UD thanks David.

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3 Responses to “Misandrie”

  1. Emily Says:

    This is a really interesting story! It may not be entirely accurate, though, to present it as representative of Canada as a whole. Canada the nation has its own issues, to be sure, but this seems to me to be something that is symptomatic of some issues that are very particular to Quebec. The particular discomfort with the niqab would seem to me to mirror France’s national policies more closely than Canada’s (generally) and Quebec is notorious in the rest of Canada for using its own discourse of French/Catholic minority status to justify provincial laws that require assimilation from immigrants on a level that is not typical in the rest of the country.

    Love your blog!

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Emily: Thank you for that clarification of the particular Quebec background of these events. I hadn’t thought about it, but I see your point: Quebec has its own notorious issues having to do with its always-shaky sense of French/Catholic control of its province, and therefore immigrant issues are likely to be more highly charged there than elsewhere.

    Thanks for the kind words about my blog!

  3. Tom Says:

    Emily is right on point with her comments. In Ontario or British Columbia, university officials would have probably cleared the room of men to accomodate these ridiculous demands. It will be interesting to see how the issue is handled by the human rights tribunal, Canada’s answer to the thought police.

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