“Never forget that it will only take a political, economic or religious crisis for the rights of women to be called into question. These rights are never acquired. You will need to remain vigilant throughout your life. ” Simone de Beauvoir
Well, here we are in this religious and political crisis. A veiled teacher in Chelsea, displaced in a function other than teaching because she contravenes the Law on the secularism of the State (“law 21”) which prohibits State agents in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols re-emerges the divide between two political and cultural entities. Moreover, the Western Quebec School Board violated Law 21, in force for over two years; she had a duty to check, before hiring her, whether the teacher agreed not to wear any religious symbol during work, which would have avoided withdrawing her from the class.
Once again, Quebec must face the Anglo-Saxon vision of secularism and the flood of accusations that accompany it. Let us recall that these are two traditions, two conceptions of the separation of the State and religions: the French tradition aimed first of all at preventing religions from interfering in the affairs of the State, which is the very essence of Law 21 on secularism, while the Anglo-Saxon vision wanted to protect religions from state interference. Two completely opposite visions of secularism result from this. And this fracture is part of a set of political and socio-cultural conflicts that go far beyond the issue of secularism and the fact of a veiled teacher.
Beyond this almost inextricable tangle of conflicts between Quebec and English Canada, there remains the question of women and the influence of religions almost all sexist and misogynist, which include many means to control and subjugate women, whom these religions are Christian or from Islam or Judaism. In Islam, which is discussed with the hijab of the Chelsea school teacher, numerous extracts from the Koran confirm the inequality and submission of women over men.
Nowhere in the Qur’an is it recommended or compulsory for a woman to cover her hair, but only to lower the veil over her breast. However, it is in the Qur’an “where it is said that men can beat their wives at the mere suspicion of infidelity or when they do not obey, where menstruating women are declared unclean, where a man can repudiate his wife. , where the testimony of a woman is only worth half of that of a man, where the boy will receive a share of the inheritance which will be double that of the girl, where men have authority over their wives by the sole fact of God’s preference in their favor, where the virginity and youth of women are considered very important values, etc. “
This veil, far from being trivial, has caused the imprisonment of women who refused to wear it in Iran, the country of origin of the veiled teacher. It was presented, contrary to Law 21, as a marker of the modesty of women and the result of a spiritual journey. The question then arises: why do not the men, whom the Koran would urge to show themselves to be modesty, conclude that the wearing of the veil is the culmination of their spiritual journey?
Could it be that the veil is a sexist religious sign, because it is worn only by women, and which is an identity marker of the belonging of the woman who wears it to a specific group, in this case religious?
We would like us to adhere to the discourse which sometimes trivializes the veil, reducing it to a simple piece of cloth, and sometimes associating it with a religious belief. If the woman chooses to be transferred to a function other than teaching rather than removing her veil during working hours in order to respect the freedom of conscience of the vulnerable and easily influenced children of this school, it is his religious belief which breeds discrimination.
The law on secularism supported by the vast majority of the Quebec population, for its part, imposes on people who are in positions of authority the same obligation of neutrality and does not discriminate against a gender or a religion and even less against women. Muslim. They are those who interpret their religion in the sense of an obligation to wear the veil, which is far from being the case for all Muslim women in the world and here in Quebec, who self-exclude from positions of education.
Women must exercise their vigilance to avoid being used in political conflicts involving Anglo-Saxon multiculturalism. Likewise, the political choice to defend secularism must remain for women the result of adherence, not to a political party, but to a model of society that defends the equality of women and men and that fights against it. obscurantism aimed at bringing back patriarchal domination.