A matter of perspective

In Québec, the French and English media have been buzzing about a letter penned by Janette Bertrand and signed by a number of well-known Québec feminists.  This letter (see English translation here) states that these women feel compelled to speak out in support of the Charter of Québec Values because equality between the sexes is being compromised in the name of freedom of religion.  These women contend that unless Québec women stand up and fight, men will use religion to oppress women, just as they have always done.  In their opinion, legislation is required to ensure that women are protected from their misogynistic faith, whether they like it or not.

However, another Québécoise has a different perspective.  She also wrote a letter that somehow, the French media missed.  Fortunately, it was picked up by the World Observer Online.  In her letter, Sophia Baig, a young Muslim woman, muses on how others can “free” her by dictating to her what her freedom must look like.  From her perspective, being told how to live in order to be allowed to fully participate in society meets her definition of oppression.  Ms Baig states that wearing her hijab as part of practicing her faith is her choice.  She notes that we are free to choose differently.  She also states that we are free to feel angry, uncomfortable, or annoyed by her hijab.  However, those feelings should not be reason enough to take away her choice.  The way she sees it, it doesn’t matter who is trying to force your hand; being forced to remove her hijab would be no different from being forced to wear one.

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