Imagine Having the Audacity to Tell Malala Yousafzai, Actual Education Hero, She Can’t Teach in Quebec With Her Headscarf
This is beyond the pale.
Malala Yousafzai needs no introduction. She’s a Nobel Prize winner and activist whose work to educate young women around the world has been a beacon of hope, and yet, the Quebec education minister, Jean-François Roberge, had the outright audacity to say that he’d tell Yousafzai that she could teach in Quebec only if she removed her headscarf.
Quebec education minister says Malala can teach here if she removes headscarf https://t.co/ej0UnzSXpk pic.twitter.com/qbX45zZtp4
— Montreal Gazette (@mtlgazette) July 6, 2019
In June, Quebec lawmakers passed a bill banning many public employees from wearing religious symbols to work, and banned those with face coverings—namely women in niqabs—from receiving government services like riding public transportation. The New York Times writes of this ban that “Critics say that the legislation will effectively exclude religious Muslims, Sikhs and Jews from positions of authority in education and law enforcement … They also argue that it threatens to foment Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fear of other minorities.”
The law itself is absolutely ridiculous and deeply harmful. Imagine telling Yousafzai, a young woman who was shot by the Taliban for attempting to get an education, that she must remove her headscarf to teach. And this goes beyond Yousafzai, too; there are now men and women who will be prevented from working because of their religious beliefs.
Roberge dug himself into a deeper hole by saying that, while it would be an honor for Yousafzai to teach in Quebec, she would have to remove her scarf because in “open and tolerant countries, teachers can’t wear religious symbols while they exercise their functions.” You can read the tweet in which he says so below.
Je lui dirais certainement que ce serait un immense honneur et qu’au Québec, comme c’est le cas en France (où nous sommes actuellement) et dans d’autres pays ouverts et tolérants, les enseignants ne peuvent pas porter de signes religieux dans l’exercice de leurs fonctions. #ÉduQc https://t.co/LEWztEU0ul
— Jean-F. Roberge (@jfrobergeQc) July 5, 2019
To be frank, there is nothing open or tolerant about banning a young woman from a teaching position based on her religious beliefs, which is what this is. It’s bigotry masking itself as tolerance. In a truly tolerant society, this discussion would not be happening.
Twitter naturally rallied to Yousafzai’s defense.
Malala literally got shot while defending her right to education.
You think a musty ass white man saying “no” unless she removes her headscarf is going to stop her? https://t.co/0hvEHuR5MQ
— #DearNonNatives (@dearnonnatives) July 7, 2019
As a result of the recent headscarf Ban in Quebec. Malala is just one prominent example, thousands upon thousands of Muslim women in Quebec are having to choose between their faith and their profession as we speak https://t.co/xvIdPSj5tR
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) July 6, 2019
This is not a sign of religious tolerance or of possessing an open mind. This is bigotry, plain and simple. Yousafzai should not have to be belittled in such a manner, and those in Quebec who are impacted by this decision should not have to choose between their faith and their careers.
(via Montreal Gazette, image: Richard Stonehouse/Getty Images)
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