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‘I struggle a bit with [the columnist’s] explanation. The gut test I use is replacing burqa, in relation to the Halloween reference, with any other religious attire — the turban, yarmulke, the Pope’s garments, for example.’

Ah, but we all know the burqa represents a different category from the examples of religious attire the Toronto Star‘s public editor lists.

He’s explaining to readers why he erased part of an opinion writer’s column about the hijab revolution. At one point the columnist jumped from hijab to burqa and – rather like Boris Johnson comparing wearers to letter boxes – commented that the women in them seem to be wearing Halloween costumes. This was deemed too offensive to retain.

If, as seems likely to me, many girls and women hidden under black hoods and robes are oppressed (a lot of them probably envy the hijab that’s causing all that trouble in Iran), I don’t suppose it’s very nice to add to their downtrodden condition by taking these sorts of jabs at them… OTOH, you could argue that, short of outlawing it (which much of the world – and, for many public-facing circumstances, some of Canada – has done), various forms of verbal complaint about it might help give some burqa wearers the clarity/guts to stand up to their husbands/imams/communities and take them off.

And as for the editor’s effort to see it as equal to turbans and yamulkes (The thing about the pope is ridiculous, though it does reveal the radicality, the extremity, the editor rightly intuits about burqa-wearers — tens of thousands of ordinary citizens dressing every day in a look comparable to that of the head of the global Catholic church? You expect to see lots of people every day in Toronto dressed like the pope? Even the pope doesn’t routinely dress like the pope.), there’s a vas deferens between guys plunking a small or even large head covering on their noggin, and the astounding full-body coverage (including black gloves so you can’t even see fingers) of the burqa. The way it blocks access to basics, like sunlight, free movement, full vision — much less simple interaction with other people in the world. The way it features black cloth over your mouth. The way it subjects eight year old girls to this.

Nope. The burqa is incomparably problematic, which a glance at its legal status in much of the world will reveal.

Margaret Soltan, October 6, 2022 8:09PM
Posted in: end the erasure of women

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