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Sayah Hassan

Sayah Hassan: Ottawa City Hall is no place for Solidarity Hijab Day!

by Sayah Hassan, February 23, 2016


City for All Women Initiative has organized a Solidarity Hijab Day on Thursday February 26th at Ottawa’s City Hall. This day seeks to encourage non Muslim women to wear the hijab for one day in order to get a better understanding of the lives of women who wear the hijab.


The hijab maybe a religious symbol to many Muslim women in Canada who have the freedom to choose to wear the hijab, however in many other countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan the hijab is a symbol of oppression and discrimination against women.


In Islamic countries ruled by Sharia Law women are FORCED to wear the hijab or face serious consequences including arrest, imprisonment and flogging. In these countries the hijab is just another tool used by the Islamic dictatorships to oppress and control women.


In Iran my country of birth women have suffered for years under the tyrannical Islamic Regime by being forced to wear the hijab in public. There is no choice or freedom involved. It is a legal requirement which can lead to very serious consequences if disobeyed.


In fact, in recent years we have seen Iranian women start to defy the hijab law by letter their hair show through the hijab, wearing bright colours or even going as far as taking off their hijab in public places, taking pictures and posting them online in a way to defy the Islamic dictatorship that oppresses them and to assert their own rights.


It’s very difficult to understand why while some women are risking their lives to free themselves from this symbol of oppression, women who live in Canada and are free to choose would promote this symbol or want to celebrate it. 

What is even more disturbing is why Ottawa City Hall a political entity representing our Canadian values including freedom and equality between men and women would endorse an event which promotes something that is the symbol and cause of oppression of millions of women worldwide.


Wearing the hijab is a very personal choice and anyone that believes in wearing the hijab and has the freedom to choose should be free to wear it without any prejudice, discrimination or repercussions. However, City Hall has no place being involved in the promotion of this religious symbol anymore then promoting any other religious symbol including the Kippah or the Turban.

The separation of religion and state is one of the pillars of Canadian values and must be safeguarded by all political institutions.


Sayeh Hassan is an Iranian Canadian lawyer, blogger and pro-democracy activist.

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