Happy Friday everyone! As promised, here’s a roundup just in time for the weekend. This week we’ve got gender and human rights wars at a barber shop (sounds like a joke. But it’s not), creeping hijab tourism, fabulous Muslim female mayors and a video with a trigger warning for violence against women.

See you next week after our jaunt to the States!


UPDATED 1) He asks me why, I want hair like a guy. I’m hairy noon and night, hair that’s a fright. I’m hairy high and low, don’t ask me why, don’t know. It’s not a gender sham, just gimme the “businessman,” daaaarrrrliiin.

A local Muslim barber really didn’t know what he was getting into when Faith McGregor walked into his Toronto barber shop and asked for a men’s haircut. The “businessman” — short on the sides, tapered, and a trim on the top. According to the TorStar:

Shop co-owner Omar Mahrouk told her his Muslim faith prohibits him from touching a woman who is not a member of his family. All the other barbers said the same thing.


So, feeling like a second class citizen (and rightly so), Faith filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

“For me it was just a haircut and started out about me being a woman. Now we’re talking about religion versus gender versus human rights and businesses in Ontario,” said McGregor.

Look. I get it. I pay $70 for a haircut (when I get one… once every other baby) AND pay a surcharge for having my hair cut behind a screen. Because, you know, hairdressers are out to make money off the untapped Muslim hair surplus. But if this isn’t about getting a $10 haircut to challenge gender inequality in the hair industry, a salon can do a “businessman” too.

Barber shops are for men, generally.

Salons are for everyone.

And THAT is what should have been conveyed to Faith. NOT, “Islam prevents me from touching unfamiliar women.” Balderdash. (see comments below) The Prophet and the Companions went to women to have lice removed from their hair — even if you don’t want to. It shouldn’t have to be a gender issue or a violation of religious freedom — but an issue about barber shops lacking the “skill set” necessary to handle the ferocious locks adorning a woman’s crown. That’s right. Rowr.

Fun fact: Salons are not allowed to do facial hair. Apparently it takes away from business of Barbers. As do quartets.

2) Students in California and Florida have taken the Hijab Challenge this week in an attempt to really and truly discover what it’s like to be Muslim. Because we all wear hijab. And we’re all women. And we only live in America. On the sunny, southern coasts.

CBS covered (haha, that never gets old) the Take the Hijab Challenge at California State University San Bernardino, which organizers say was to help their fellow students to:

“Walk in our shoes for a little bit to see what we go through.”

While I’m not a big fan of this type of outreach, the news segment shows the effort it took to hijabify over 100 women on campus, with lots of good intentions — and bright shining scarves to shed a little light on some of the negative and hostile reactions Muslims receive for existing. Just a litte taste — without the requirements to pray, fast, pay zakat, begging your non-Muslim family for acceptance, awkward matrimonial convos with Aunties, racism, mosque vandalism, or any of the fun religious cultural baggage the rest of us deal with.

But for a more personal account of what it really means to wear hijab for a day, check out the rections from students at Florida Gulf Coast University:

For my Hijab challenge I decided to tie my scarf in a “waterfall” style, completely covering my hair and neck. During the week of the experiment, I alternated between a pink Hijab and a purple Hijab. Before I knew it, I had begun accessorizing.

Creeping sharia’ at its finest.

Yes there are misconceptions about Muslims. Yes more needs to be done to address growing Islamophobia — but we should really sell tickets if we’re going to open up hijab to this kind of tourism.

3) After months of research, training and fundraising, the Women’s Resource Centre in the GTA launched what is believed to be Canada’s first helpline specifically for Muslim women, says the TorStar. The Resource Centre launched the helpline after Muslim women started calling simply to talk to someone — now they’ll also receive emotional support, peer counseling and referrals.

In its first few weeks, the helpline has already received dozens of calls from women across the GTA, with concerns ranging from marriage and relationships to information on shelters and food banks, and in a few cases, abuse.

The helpline operates 7 to 9 p.m. Monday to Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday. The hotline number is 888-315-6472 (NISA).

Also, this weekend ICNA is holding it’s first women’s conference, Reshaping Our Future. If you’re in the Mississauga area, do check it out and don’t miss hearing some amazing female experts.

4) Meet Amra Babić. Single mother of three boys. Moonlights as a superhero. And the new mayor of Visoko, Bosnia. Oh, did I mention that she wears hijab and is probably the “only hijab-wearing mayor in Europe”?

Even though her constituents don’t care what she wears on her head, the media is sure to make sure her hijab is headlined. As Babić says in a recent interview:

The victory shows that one “woman is not, and will not allow [herself] to be discriminated because of her dress or commitment to freedom of expression of belonging to one nation, religion and tradition. I hope that Europe will figure out they are positive values.”

“Of course women deserve equal treatment. Women make up more than half of the population, hence the same number of human resources. We must learn to give a chance to the best, most capable, most worthy. Regardless of their gender or what they wear.”

Here’s to her strong political success!

5) Finally, one video alone won’t put an end to honour killings. But it sure sends a powerful message. You can read all about the inspiration for Da Arabian MCs’ If I could Go Back in Time at UNWomen. And if you need a translation, please turn on the English closed captioning on this YouTube video. If you’re sensitive to violence against women, don’t watch.