I’m thankful and excited to announce that I’ve joined the amazing team of writers at Muslimah Media Watch! It’s a really great opportunity to flex some more media analysis out of the things that get my hijab in a bunch.
I’ll be sharing my MMW posts here as well.
Earlier this month, the Canadian province of Quebec elected its first female Premier. Headed by Pauline Marois, the Parti Québécois won a minority government after almost 10 years of Liberal rule. This election was also marked by accusations of xenophobia and racism, and ended dramatically with arson and a fatal shooting during Marois’ victory celebration speech.
And unsurprisingly, there was a hijab controversy to top it all off.
Based on the intricacies of identity politics, and aiming to safeguard Québécois culture and the French language in Quebec, the Parti Québécois (PQ) platform included stricter language laws and a new Charter of Secularism banning religious symbols for public servants. Naturally, what better symbols of religion are there than the kippah or the turban? Certainly not the giant cross that hangs in the legislature, Christmas trees or discreetly worn crucifix necklaces — because under the charter of secularism, these symbols would get to stay.
A common thread during this election was defining the new secularism charter with the ultimate religious symbol: the hijab. At least, that’s how religious or cultural clothing is postured when Muslims are used as a political tool. Even though there were other important issues such as the tumultuous student strike and tuition increases, the controversial Law 78 that limited fundamental civil liberties, and decreased access to social services with higher daycare fees, it wasn’t long before English-based coverage of the election focused on the immense “hijab backlash,” screaming that under a PQ government the “crucifix stays, but hijabs go.”