All people are equal: My manifesto

“Alt-right,” which these cowards call themselves in a vain attempt to deflect identification as nazis, expressing their fear of everyone who’s not white in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: courtesy CBC.

I have been unfriended on Facebook by Robert Bidinotto, a writer with a decidedly conservative bent, who commands quite a following. As far as I can tell, very few in his group disagree with him, and the overall tone of the discussions is like a tea-party, where everyone basically agrees.

My sin was apparently disagreeing with the tribal wisdom, or maybe the hegemony of Robert Bidinotto. He and his followers are entitled to their opinions, of course, but I think the point of divergence of opinions between them and me are some basic, underlying tenets.

It’s useless to try to logically argue against ideology at times like this. When you start arguing against people’s deepest beliefs, they respond emotionally, not rationally. So I won’t do that. But I have been accused of various things, so I want to set the record straight about my beliefs.

Don’t let yourself be manipulated

The recent history of Western culture has many examples of politics being emotionally manipulated. Just look at how so many mainstream commentators demonize the terms “liberal” and “leftist,” let alone the irrational, visceral response Americans have to the words “socialist” and “communist.”

This same kind of emotional, irrational demonization has been successfully used against labour unions, environmental organizations, hunters, meat producers and consumers, and community groups of many different stripes. It’s used against the Black Lives Matter movement, too, albeit with less success so far.
It’s hard not have an emotional response to issues that affect our lives, but the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend show very plainly where that can take us. The protesters against the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee were irrational, chanting “You won’t replace us! Jews won’t replace us!”
They’re acting out of fear. Deep, knee-shaking and wholly unjustified fear. Fear given life through manipulation.

And the counter-protesters reacted out of anger. Justifiable anger, but the violence was unjustified and counter-productive, only adding to the racists’ narrative that they’re under threat.

Coverage and media reaction has also been emotional too, even by the professional news media.
Here’s where I had the falling out with the conservative tribe.

Blame the messenger

Robert Bidinotto’s pet peeve is the “leftist narrative” of the “mainstream media,” which he calls the MSM. He’s not the only one to make this assertion, and while I could easily refute the existence of a leftist bias held by a media that is mostly owned by multinational megacorporations, I won’t. Bidinotto kept posting photographs that cast the counter-protesters in unfavourable, red-tinged light, captioning them “pictures you won’t see in the MSM.”

Well, here are a couple.

Antifa protesters in Charlottesville exercising their Second Amendment rights. Source: New York Times — the Grey Lady of the mainstream media. I’m just happy that the ink doesn’t come off on your fingers as much anymore.

The counter-protesters, with a suspiciously red flag, raised fist, and “solidarity” slogans, in Charlottesville. These dastards dared to support equality. Photo source: NYT.

Where I crossed the line, apparently, was in objecting to comments that said “the lefties were just as bad as the protesters.” My favourite was the one guy who said he’d “defend his home if leftists were throwing rocks at his windows.”

When did that happen?

It’s depressing to read all the posts that blame the “leftists” as much as the racists for Charlottesville and other violence.

It’s also aggravating to read how the “MSM” favours one side over the other. I don’t know about you, but I understand those who forgive opponents of racism.

So anyway, I wrote a few replies on this Facebook group, calling out those who drew this false equivalency between the racists and the counter-protesters. Yes, both were wrong to commit violence. I agree with that, fully, because violence did not solve anything or even advance the argument.

But the groups are not the same, not even the “antifa,” or anti-fascists. Here’s why: the racists promote oppression, the abrogation of other people’s rights.

The counter-protesters were a wide assortment of groups from churches, community organizations and, yes, some organized leftist organizations. But as I said, “leftist” is not necessarily bad. Racism is. The counter-protesters came to support equal rights.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

To get to the root of the issue, here are my underlying tenets. I guess this is a little manifesto.

  1. All people are equal. Without exception. While some people face disabilities and other exceptional challenges, they may have abilities that the rest of us cannot guess at.
  2. In corollary, we’re all fallible. We’re all often wrong. Even me. This whole essay could be way off. And whether you agree with me or not, you could equally be wrong. There is just a lot more that we don’t know about the universe and ourselves than we do know.
  3. Degrading the natural environment is a slow form of suicide and genocide.
  4. No human mind can comprehend infinity or divinity. We are limited (see #2, above). Therefore, all religions are at best useful metaphors for the way the universe and people work.
  5. Protecting free speech, even by Nazis and racists, is vital to preserving liberty. Hate speech is abhorrent. Chanting “Jews will not replace us” is chilling.But repressing racism, or any other ideology, does not destroy it, nor does it make the problem go away. That’s been proven through history. Nazism has not gone away. Repressing socialism in the U.S. has not eradicated it. Repressing Judaism or Christianity has only made them stronger.The racist jerks in Charlottesville have exposed their hatred, and it’s far better that all of us see it than it be allowed to grow unseen.
  6. It’s better to object than to be offended. Who cares if you’re offended? If you are, then object to it in a thoughtful, constructive way. Suggest solutions.
  7. Capitalism is not necessarily the best way to organize an economy. It’s a relatively recent invention, and there have been many other models over the millennia of civilization.Success of an economic model depends on what your goals are. If the goals of the current North American economic model are to concentrate as much wealth as possible in as few hands as possible, hollow out the middle class and drive household debt as high as possible, while making education so expensive that it’s impossible for most people to ever escape the debt-poverty cycle, then modern capitalism has been very successful, indeed.
  8. Unions are not evil. While I remain skeptical of the unionists’ claims that they’re solely responsible for the two-day weekend, vacation pay, etc., they can certainly take a lot of credit for those advances.
  9. Government is not evil. In republics and democracies, government is the instrument of community will. Yes, often it’s clumsy. There are many examples where its actions are the manipulations of a particular group—usually a small group of very wealthy people. But it’s not inherently evil. And in fact, government action in the West has demonstrably led to many improvements in human life.Likewise, regulation is not evil. Regulations keep poisons out of our water. Regulations ensure packagers don’t sell us food that has spoiled. Regulations have reduced air pollution in our cities.And government spending is not evil. Governments organizing health care and education is not evil.These are investments that return more to the taxpayers than they cost. It’s not about “entitlement.” It’s about where we, all of us, in society, who vote, decide to put our resources in order to build the kind of community and life that we want.
  10. “Left” and “right” are useless terms to describe our political debate and violence today. The divisions between the “alt-right” and the “liberals” encompass so much more than how each side feels the economy should be regulated. And don’t think that adding a second authoritarian-libertarian axis helps much, as the libertarians describe. The situation is far more complex than that.“Left” and “right” are terms used by those in power who seek to divide and thereby control the rest of us. Grouping Nazis and racists with economic conservatives is extremely insulting to conservatives, with whom I often (but not always) disagree. But the ones I know personally are not racists. Okay, some are. But I object to their opinions (see #6, above).
  11. Science is the best way to make decisions and move forward, because the scientific method by definition seeks what really works, and what’s verifiable. Climate change? Look to the science.
  12. The globe is warming. There’s no credible debate about that. Climate change deniers are like the people 20 years ago who argued there was no scientific link between smoking and lung disease.
  13. We can get past this. Without denying our emotions, our humanity, we can respect each other. Start by acknowledging our equality, and our equal ability to be wrong. Leave religion aside for the moment. Look at the facts, and our own goals. As long as our goals are not oppression, abrogation of human rights, we can negotiate solutions.

So there. My manifesto. I am open to debate. Like I said, I could be wrong. I was wrong once before.

Word of the week: offend

Photo Credit: CanStockPhoto under creative commons licence

Where is the line between the right to free expression and the responsibility to respect others?

There’s a debate going on now about whether media outlets should republish the cartoons from Charlie Hebdo that enraged three men in France enough to kill 25 people at the magazine and at a kosher grocery store, and wound another 20.

In Canada, several newspapers, most of them French-language, republished the cartoons. Most English-language newspapers, however, did not. The New York Times’editor changed his mind twice about the issue, ultimately deciding not to publish them.The French language side of the Canadian Broadcasting Company, Radio-Canada, published them on its website. The English-language service made a point of not doing so. David Studer, CBC’s director of journalistic standards and practices, said that there was no need to publish the cartoons to understand the story, and that since CBC would not have published them before the shootings, there was no reason to publish them after.

Think of the children!

Last Friday, the lunchtime radio call-in program in my home town debated the issue. Most of the callers, Muslim or not, agreed with the sentiment that the cartoons should not be published because they are offensive, particularly those that depict the prophet Muhammed in sexual situations.

One caller who identified herself as a Muslim said that “I am trying to raise my children to respect Muhammed, and how can they when they see images like that?”

Protecting children is important. In Canada, 344 people drowned in 2012. Open water can be dangerous for anyone.How do we protect children against drowning? We teach them swimming and water safety. As a result of increased numbers of children enrolled in swimming lessons, the drowning statistics for children under age 18 has been declining steadily.

Automobile accidents claim thousands of lives every year. Yet we teach children to drive cars. We acknowledge that the danger is best met and mitigated by teaching people how to deal with real danger.But we have such a different attitude when it comes to offence, insult or criticism of figures that some people revere.
Why? What could happen to the Prophet were someone to criticize him? I haven’t seen any harm come to Islam itself as a result of cartoons. And don’t imagine that the murders were somehow divine retribution. That was the action of three angry, petulant and ultimately immature young men who decided on their own to react to an insult with deadly force. The same way a playground bully will use force to react to an insult.
I understand that people do not like to be offended. But we all have a choice when it comes to offensive material: we don’t have to look. No one has to look at pornography. No one has to read satire. You don’t have to read or watch The Last Temptation of Christ.
In a pluralistic, egalitarian society, which is what we are trying to build in the West, we respect each other’s right to practise any religion we choose, as long as we’re not harming anyone else. But your right to respect your religion does not trump my right to express my ideas. And if I feel the need to criticize a religious leader, that’s my right.

To my Muslim friends: if you are afraid of being offended, do not scroll any lower. I am going to republish some of the offensive cartoons from Charlie Hebdo. Not gratuitously, not just to make fun of a revered man, but as part of a question I want candid answers to.

Are you offended by this?


Personally, I think this is funny, riffing on a scene from a Brigitte Bardot film. I think it’s important to poke fun at revered figures, because it allows us to question our leaders, to hold them to account, and to question our own assumptions. We need to do this every so often, so we can make certain we are not being hypocrites.

And really, we are seeing a man’s bare ass. How does that hurt anyone? Even if it’s not beautiful, it’s not harmful. We’ve all seen someone’s bare ass at some point in our lives, and we’re none the worse for it.

How about this one?

It’s a reference to the film “Intouchables,” about a disabled, rich white man who hires a poor black man to care for him. The dialog bubble means “We must not be mocked.” Is it funny? Does it offend you? Tell me in the Comments section.

And what about this one? 

What do you think?

Even if it is disrespectful, Charlie Hebdo did not harm anyone or anything. And here’s a suggestion to those who did feel offended and disrespected: consisder satire like Charlie Hebdo’s like a vaccination. If you can deal with the disrespect and come up with a response—one that does not involve violence or repression—maybe your faith will be stronger for it.

Charlie Hebdo: On the front lines in the war on freedom of expression

There is a world-wide, religious war going on right now, even though Western, democratic and governmental leaders don’t want to admit it.

It’s not a war prosecuted by all Muslims, not by any stretch. But it is a war, a campaign against freedoms the West purports to stand for: freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom from arbitrary exercises of force and authority.
According to news

sources, after three men with assault rifles murdered 12 people and wounded another 20 at the Charlie Hebdooffices in Paris today, one yelled “Allahu akbar!” and one yelled “Hey! We avenged the prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo.”

Apparently, these murderers were offended by the satirical magazine’s cartoons depicting, and making fun of Muhammad.
This isn’t the first instance of this kind of thing.  Charlie Hebdo’s offices were firebombed in 2011 following the magazine’s cover with a cartoon of Muhammad on the cover. In Islam, any depiction of Muhammad is forbidden.
Thing is, France is not governed by Islamic law. The magazine’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, who was killed in the attack, once said he did not live under Sharia law.
And neither, thankfully, do I. I am happy to live in a secular, pluralistic society, one which allows each person to follow whatever religion or philosophy they wish, and which allows me to express myself as I wish.
But back to the war on expression and on democracy, freedom of expression and secular humanism.
In 2005, the Danish newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten, or Morning Jutland Post, published cartoons of Muhammad, setting off a storm of protest that escalated into violence, attacks on churches and nuns and more than 200 deaths.
Boko Haram continues to kidnap children in Nigeria in the name of its perverted conception of Islam. The name of the group apparently translates to “western education is forbidden.”
The Islamic State organization, also known as ISIS and ISIL, continues its war in Syria, Iraq and the Levant with the goal of establishing a caliphate, a religious state ruled by strict, fundamentalist Islamic law—which includes rejection of secular law, the embrace of violence to achieve religious goals and death for anyone who leaves Islam. It’s also known for beheading aid workers and journalists.
Those are just a few examples. And the threat against freedom of expression isn’t carried out only by people who think they’re Muslim. Christians in the US and Canada have been known to ban Huckleberry Finnby Mark Twain, and various school boards have from time to time banned books that represent same-sex couples or homosexual relationships. China jails  members of Falun Gong; Cuba jails dissidents who dare criticize the government.
Granted, banning books is not as extreme as the murders of journalists, writers and other artists. But they are indicative of the threat against a freedom and a right that I, and many others, believe is fundamental to the society I live in and wish to live in.

The logical clash

I believe that the overwhelming majority of Muslims and all people in the world do not wish to impose their beliefs on other people, but are just trying to live their lives. Unfortunately, there are always obnoxious assholes in every society who believe they can tell other people what to do and think.
To me, and I hope to others, the right to think freely and to express my thoughts freely is fundamental, sacred and not to be infringed.
However, to the murderers of Stéphane Charbonnier and the others at Charlie Hebdo, their religious sensitivities trump freedom of speech and the right to life.

The necessity of freedom

Freedom of expression is essential in a democracy, because history is replete with tyrants, religious and otherwise, who repress expression to hide their misdeeds and shortcomings.
But we can take a narrower perspective. As a child, I learned how important it was to tolerate teasing and insults. Reacting to an insult with anger only leads to a worse opinion of the target of the insult in the eyes of others. The far better reaction, the one that will be best for the original target of the insult, is humour and to tease or insult right back. If you can be funny while doing so, even better.
That’s a lesson that those who get offended by criticism of their beliefs need to learn.

Where do you stand?

This is a war, a war between hard-won freedom and the protection of elites—because what ideas will be repressed, other than those that oppose the powerful?

We who live in open, democratic and (mostly) free societies, like France, Canada, the US and other countries, and those who want to live in a free, open society, have to make a decision: do we support free expression of ideas that we might find personally offensive? Or do we think that some principles are so delicate that they must be protected against insult?

In short, do you agree with Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”?

Tilting against the biggest books of all time: the Bible and Quran

I’m taking a huge chance here.

Last week, the news media were full of the story about York University in Toronto accommodating a male student’s request not to be put in a study group with women, on religious grounds.

The identity and specific religion of the student are protected under Canada’s privacy laws. Whatever religion it is, this case points to a long-standing problem.

I fully support freedom of religion, and will defend everyone’s right to believe and practice whatever they like, as long as it is not hurting anyone else nor infringing on any else’s rights. But it’s time we all stopped using religion or philosophy to excuse inexcusable behaviour and to justify unjustifiable ideas.

That’s right. I’m telling the world that I do not believe that you can use the Bible, the Quran, Mao’s little red book, the Communist Manifesto or any other book to defend your ideas. I just don’t accept the argument “because God says so.”

You can’t prove that, and the fact that you have a book that’s called “God’s words” does not constitute proof. I can write a book called “God’s Words, too.”


The devil is in the details

In September, 2013, sociology professor J. Paul Grayson assigned a mandatory group assignment that required students to work together in person. One student, who was taking the course online, asked Dr. Grayson to exempt him because his religious beliefs forbade him from meeting in public with a group of women.

<>Dr. Grayson refused the request, and after discussion, the student agreed to participate in the assignment and completed it. However, the university administration ordered Dr. Grayson to accommodate the request.

To his credit, Dr. Grayson refused the administration’s order to accommodate this religious request. “What if I said my religion frowns upon my interacting with blacks?” he wrote. This accommodate would set a precedent, he said, and make him an “accessory to sexism.”

The public reaction was telling and uplifting. I could not find a single person or opinion in the media that supported the religious accommodation. And rightfully so.

(The Dean of Arts at York University defended his action partly because the student asked to be able to complete the assignment in another way, and another online student who was situated outside the country was allowed another way to do the work.)

The media reaction

Every political leader in the country decried the university’s accommodation order. Every opinion speaker and writer I heard or read likewise sided with the professor. Every online comment also supported the professor, and pointed out that this type of religious accommodation damages women’s sexual equality rights, hard-won over the last century.

This is an example where the right of freedom to practice your religion conflicts with gender equality rights. Many Canadian schools provide prayer rooms, segregated by gender, as part of their “religious accommodation.” Canadian institutions — funded by Canadian taxpayers — accommodate religious practices that defy the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — part of the law that supposedly governs those institutions.

Religious versus human rights

I repeat, I support your right to believe and practice any religion you like. But I do not support anyone’s attempt to infringe on anyone else’s human rights. And equality of women and men is one of the most important.

I thought it was telling that CBC radio’s program, The Current, introduced this story with a clip of televangelist Pat Robertson saying that according to the Bible, men and women are not equal.

According to this logic, religion justifies unequal treatment and unequal rights between the sexes. It says so in the Bible.

I’m not trying to criticize any particular religion here, nor am I trying to open a general debate about crime and punishment. All I want to do is to point out the hypocrisy of the argument that goes: “I must do this/I cannot do that because the Bible/Quran/whatever other text I hold out as justification for every ridiculous idea that comes out of my mouth, says so.”

Crazy idea icon by mehagopijiji.
Licenced under Creative Commons.

Otherwise rational people are afraid to criticize religious beliefs and practices because they fear being branded as intolerant, racist, or xenophobic. Well, I’m none of those things, but I will say this: I don’t accept the “It’s God’s will” argument, because the people who use it don’t accept it, either.

Nobody actually follows the entire Bible, even though they say they do. Not even Pat Robertson. How many people sacrifice cattle to God? Does Pat Robertson? Yet Leviticus, the Biblical book that instructs believers in how to live every minute of their lives, tells readers to sacrifice bulls just about every day.

Have you ever seen a televangelist making that kind of sacrifice, or indeed, any kind of sacrifice of his own property?

Do religious leaders in Canada promote the death penalty for adultery? How many religious people think that’s okay? Should Canada accommodate religious sects that want to put adulterers to death?

From Leviticus, Chapter 20. Source:

The Bible also tells believers to put homosexuals to death. I’m pretty sure that Canadian law does not accommodate this practice.

The Quran tells a husband to beat his wife — mildly, yes, but definitely to use force — if she defies his authority. Would Canadian law accommodate this? Would US law? I hope not.

No one follows any scriptures absolutely. No one in Canada can put adulterers or homosexuals to death. If they do, the law will punish them.

The point is that even the most religious choose among obligations to follow, adhering to some and ignoring others. It’s a human decision.

Not a divine one.

Basing all your life actions on an ancient book is an unsupportable idea. Every religious person chooses the scriptures he or she will follow, because no one follows all of them. No one can.

I won’t argue whether the Bible and Quran were divinely inspired, because I cannot change anyone’s belief on that point in a blog. But how about if I add this: God told me to write this post.

Prove to me that He (or She, or Whatever) did not.

Québec’s proposed Charter of Values

Often, written words cause a major stir. The latest one worth a look is the Parti Québecois’ proposed Charter of Quebec Values.

The Quebec government has made a cursory attempt at providing the document in English and in French, but key parts, such as the introduction and the Message from the Ministre responsable des Institutions démocratiques et de la Participation citoyenne (Minister responsible for democratic institutions and citizenship), Bernard Drainville, are available only in French.

The Charter is not a basic statement of the society’s values; it’s a response to the growing and vocal Muslim community in Quebec. It begins with

“Les orientations proposées par le gouvernement ont pour objectif de poursuivre la démarche de séparation des religions et de l’État…”

“The objective of the ideas proposed by the government is the pursuit of the separation of religion and the State…”

Only in section 4 does the document get to what the proposed values are, and those are relatively brief: equality of women and men; and shared historical inheritance. These are the “common values” that the government says that Quebec’s people share.
Not much, really. Vague. Incomplete.

The proposed charter

The Charter proposal begins with a statement of concern:

Since 2006, a number of high-profile religious accommodation cases have given rise to a profound discomfort in Quebec. To maintain social peace and promote harmony, we must prevent tensions from growing.

Clear rules on religious accommodations will contribute to integration and social cohesion. They will benefit all Quebecers, including newcomers. We will be best served by a state that treats everyone the same.

I agree. Hey, if the state is obliged to treat everyone the same, why can’t people put up signs in English as big as in French?
I have to ask: why this, now? Quebec has been a remarkably open, if not completely tolerant society for decades. Montreal itself is almost as ethnically diverse as Toronto, the most ethnically diverse city in the world. Jews, Sikhs, Mennonites (and other religions, although I don’t know all that prescribe what people wear) and Muslims have been able wear clothes according to their religious convictions, without any problem.

This is not the first recent indication of the discomfort that some people, at least, in Quebec feel toward the growing Muslim community. A few years ago, the town of Hérouxville tried to ban Shariah law, and in 2005, the Quebec Assembly voted unanimously against allowing Sharia law in civil cases.

And who can forget the Quebec government’s unfortunate guide for immigrants that advised against honour killing and cooking of smelly foods?
I think there are two forces at work:
First, the dominant French-Canadian, French-speaking, white and nominally Catholic culture in Quebec has faded, replaced not only by the secular French-speaking and arguably slightly multi-ethnic culture that the government insists exists, but a more diverse culture. The “Quebecois” identity envisioned by the separatists from the 60s through the 80s (let’s face it, separatism stopped being cool by 1970), the identity supposedly protected by Bill 101, has mostly faded, especially in Montreal.
The other force is the resurgence of religion in daily life, especially among Muslims. The younger generation of Muslims is more observant of the outward aspects of their religion, including clothing, than before. This coupled with their increasing numbers means that Quebecers, and all Canadians, see more women and girls in obvious religious garb.


Half of Quebec, including intellectuals, people of just about every religion represented in the province, and half of the separatists oppose the proposal.

What were they thinking?
That’s to be expected. What’s surprising is that the proponents of the Charter seemed totally umprepared for the backlash, as if they can’t understand why, for example, a Jewish prosecutor object if he would no longer be allowed to wear a yarmulke if he wanted to in court; or why a Sikh doctor should protest if he were disallowed from wearing a turban during hospital rounds or consultations in a CLSC clinic.
Whom are they hurting? Even the most strident believer in the PQ cannot believe that the fact that a woman wears a scarf on her head would cause someone else to change religions. “Oh, that is SUCH a nice scarf, I want one! I’ll even change religions so that I can wear it!”
No, the separatists cannot believe that.
I understand the other arguments: that Quebec is trying to protect its culture. But culture is a living thing, and that means it changes all the time. If its outward form is different from what political leaders remember from their childhood, they’ll just have to suck it up. Enforcing cultural norms has never worked and it isn’t going to start working now.

Is the charter fair?

To be frank, the proposed charter is discriminatory. It developed in response to a particular group, and affects religious minorities unfairly. If it doesn’t hurt anyone else, why shouldn’t a woman wear a scarf on her head? In a free society like Canada, she should have that right as an equal citizen. Yes, she should also be protected against abuse from anyone if she decides not to wear the scarf, too.

Just to be clear, I don’t think that anyone should be allowed to wear clothing that puts themselves or anyone else in danger. That’s why I don’t think that girls should wear a hijab on the soccer pitch or while doing any other sport – because there is a danger of choking. Similarly, no one should be allowed onto a construction site without a hard-hat. I don’t care what your religion says about that.

It’s amazing that this piece of cloth can cause so much trouble.
And to be frank, I also think that the hijab in particular is also discriminatory. I’m not an expert on Islam, but from what I understand, the hijab itself is not a requirement of Islam. It’s something that some people choose to wear, and there are plenty of upstanding Muslim women in the world who choose not to wear it.

And let’s remember that some Muslim women feel pressured, or are absolutely pressured, to cover their heads. Not following the dictates of their culture and their families has caused the deaths of many Muslim women around the world, including in Canada. Don’t forget the murders of Geeti, Sahar and Zeinab Shafia’s and Rona Amir Mohammad, in the name of “honour.” No, it wasn’t because they didn’t wear hijabs, or not only because of that, but it is part of the same pattern of enforcing culture.
Isn’t that what the PQ is trying to do?
I think that people should be allowed to wear such a scarf. Hell, if I wanted to wear one, I don’t think that anyone should prevent me from doing so. Of course, I expect to be criticized, to be thought of as crazy or at least of having very poor taste.
Speaking of bad taste… maybe
Richard Simmons should put
something on his head.

I have to admit, I think a religious prescription on clothing is backward. But it you feel it’s a mark of respect, by all means, do it. And no democratic government should prevent you from doing it.