Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Soccer, Hijab Information Appeal

I need pictures of famous current soccer players sporting headgear/jewelery on the pitch. Weather it be a bandanna, ear ring, nose piercing, caps, whatever. Male or female.

If you don't know, it's regarding this story. I have always said that Quebec is the most racist province of Canada (even more than the so-called redneck Alberta), and immigrants seem to have a harder time there, especially if you don't know French.

If someone also knows the identity of that referee please tell me, as well as any information about her. I would like to know just how "Muslim" that referee is - since that is being branded about as an excuse for this not being an example of racism - which it is.

The right of a woman to wear the hijab is non-negotiable. It is a shame that while Canada fights in Afghanistan to "free" women so they can wear what they want, that right is stripped away at home.

What is it with the French and the hijab?


Nowal said...

well, the ref did do it for issues of "safety". apparently, the hijab takes on a new role as Accidental Strangler.


A must-watch - http://taqwatv.blip.tv/file/18075

Khulud said...

oh God! She is only eleven. God knows how bad of an emotional toll it's taking on her.
A friend of mine is a rugby player for the radcliffe team here. Here
their website, and her pictures are not always easily noticable just because she always wears black hijab. But if you look hard enough, you will notice it... Her name is Hala Iqbal.
I am SO proud of her! ;)

Anonymous said...

I kinda *saw* that news yesterday during lunchtime but was unable to sit and watch it properly.My 5 yr old girl loves to play soccer too(every summer with daddy), this is really sad for those young muslim girls who want to play soccer. People are just finding reasons to *eliminate* immigrants in such popular games. sf

Baraka said...

I agree that the right is non-negotiable.

Amazing that the referee was Muslim too.

others slammed the referee's decision as another example of how Quebec is trying to get immigrants to toe a cultural line. The Quebec Soccer Federation noted the referee was also a Muslim.


"There's actually no specific rule ... that says that they can't wear any type of headgear."

M&M said...

"I have always said that Quebec is the most racist province of Canada"

I could not agree any more.

and what is the thing with the french and the hijab! holy

i am not going to make this a long comment because i think i'll vent out my frustrations on this issue in a post soon.

Khulud said...

oh I have a question about Canada, in general. I have heard that Canada is more racist than the US. I visited Toronto and met some Bengalis who had to leave the US right after 9/11. Apparently, even with MBA's from places like Uni of Chicago didn't get them any professional jobs. They ended up working at places like Pizza Pizza. Another family member finished some master's from England and ended up at some sort of "store", which is terrible.
So, all this time, I thought maybe these are isolated situations, until I came across this website:
which is probably a campaign in raising awareness about this issue. Though it's not particularly about your post, it's somewhat related. And I am talking about the most diverse city in Canada, "TORONTO"!

What is your take on this?

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Not muslim but desi. I grew up in Northern Quebec and later attended McGill University and I 100% agree with you on Quebec and its racism issue. They made our lives miserable when we lived there and the only reason I went back to college in Montreal is because of the cost of university in the US. I didn't want to blow cash on undergrad when I knew my parents expected us to go graduate school.

Our best friends in N. Quebec were Turkish Muslims but neither the wife nor daughters veiled (come to think of it, I only realised 10 years after the fact that they were Muslim). They didn't even need the veil to make our lives miserable. The simple fact that we were foreign immigrants was enough for them.

isheeta said...

Quebec is, in general, anti-anglophone. Even if you were speaking in English, you'd get ugly stares, and as Mezba posted once, people are not motivated to help you it it appears you are not trying to acquiesce to being more Quebecois(s).

Immigrants have been looked down in Quebec for a while now, and even french-speaking (not white) immigrants from countries like Algeria or Morrocco are looked upon/down in a negative way. French-speaking Lebanese people, who dress in western attire, look white, or who have 'assimilated' to the francophone culture, get away with it.

I'm not surprised with this news, but at the same time, this is not a new issue... its been a long time in the making. Its only recently that such issues have come out from the woodwork and people are making a stance at it - just have a look at pg 20 at the latest Macleans issue (Do Immgigrants need Rules, story of the spark caused in the town of Huereuxville (Happyville!) in Quebec...

The way I see it - its silly, I mean, whats the worst the little girl can do with her hijab - score goals to death?!

At the same time, maybe this should answer that age-old sovereignty question that Quebec has been fighting for - let it go! Let it be a nation on its own and all this ruckus will end!

khulud - the scenario you mentioned cannot be blamed entirely on Canada alone. There are a lot of reasons why immigrants in Canada cannot find jobs, and I would say just saying people in toronto are racists and refuse to hire immigrants is taking the easy out to figuring out a social problem whose propblems are rooted much deeper. There's issues with regards to licensing and accreditation, weather, acclimitization, possessing the right skills, experience, language and cultural barriers, and yes even bureaucratic red tape. Racism may be a factor, but its not the be-all and end all. Its a known fact, for example, that 1st/2nd generation Canadians have better luck finding job prospects than their parents who drive cabs or work in pizza stores. This is a scenario seen in the United States, the UK, and even Europe.

Sorry, while I hate the weather and the other negative connotations like racism crap that we do have here in Toronto, one of the most diverse cities in the world, I have to take my stance and say that it does have its good points and is no different than most cities in the developed world.

my 2 cents.

Aisha said...

Racism sucks. I experienced some today. I live in the dirty south. Its similar to perhaps Quebec. *sigh*

I wish I could give you some info I dont hae any... Will keep you informed.

mezba said...

nowal: good links, esp. Lady Caliphs. I can use it. However, I really do need pictures of soccer stars with head gear.

Khulud: thanks! Is she player number 18 in one of the pictures?

Sf: Maybe the solution is to start our own league and have anyone, regardless of religion, participate. You are right, these people in charge just want to exclude certain people.

Baraka: amazing eh? I wonder how that person lives with her conscience? I as a student reporter was once asked to do an article against the university funding multi faith prayer spaces. I didn't do it.

M&M: I look forward to reading it.

Khulud: No way is Canada more racist than the States. I have been to States (40 states) and let me tell you, Canada is a paradise when compared to some of the rudeness I experienced in the USA. As for immigrants not finding jobs and stuff, that happens all over the western world, right? In Canada it's a big issue now, and the website you mentioned highlights it.

Monkey: Your experiences mirror mine and I agree with what you said. There is something in Quebec, an attitude that some people are real Quebecors, not others. That's racism.

Isheeta: I know.. what's the harm in allowing a little girl to play in her hijab? And it's not like it's a safety thing.. it probably prevents her hair from being pulled.

It's amazing how people always get so worked up about women's clothes - whether it's too much covering or too little. Just let women be!

Aisha: Keep us in your prayers! OK now I made you sound like an aunty ....lol

Khulud said...

wow, Mezba, your EYES!! Yep, that #18.

Isheeta and Mezba: Sorry, if it sounded like I was suggesting that people in Toronto are racists! I really didn't mean it; it's just that those that couldn't get what they thought they deserved talked about it and so I was just trying to see/ask for opinions. For some reason, these days, I think my sentences have some unintended hidden (often offensive) meaning which I don't even mean to relay. Oh well, English is still my second language, and maybe that's why! My apologies!

'liya said...

I heard about this on the radio on my way to work and all I thought during my drive was that poor little girl! All she wants to do is play some soccer... geez, I really don't know what's with the French and hijab either :S

Farah said...

You will be interested in this.


Monkey McWearingChaps said...

What upset me most is that all of us (the ethnics were all friends, it was 4 desi families and 2 Turkish families and a few Egyptian families) did so much to fit in. Other than our names, colour and religion, we didn't differ at all...all of us spoke French. But that was never enough for them.

I won't even get into the school-language issue...or the fact that I went to a public parochial school, or how much money my parents had to spend to send me to an English school!!!!

Maybe in Montreal it would have been different for us. But in Chicoutimi, which is where we lived, it was terrible and my entire sentiments about Canada are coloured by how we were treated there. And despite America's bad rep right now, it was only after I moved to Massachusetts that I felt like my culture and religion and what language I spoke was not the bloody centre of attention from every Frog on the face of the planet.

I hope this little girl sues. Oh whoah, that is so merkin of me...

Isaac Schrödinger said...

"I would like to know just how "Muslim" that referee is - since that is being branded about as an excuse for this not being an example of racism - which it is."

I have a question: which race did the referee discriminate against while making this decision?

mezba said...

Khulud: haha I thought so! Anyways I will use that link in an article I will write for Cr.Can.

Liya: if it's not too controversial, maybe it can be an essay topic for your class?

Farah: Thanx yaar! I can so use that.

Monkey: I know. And what bugs me is that Quebec always whines about being discriminated against by Rest of Canada, yet they are the ones who are most discriminatory, which they now themselves admit! (in that poll by the Toronto Sun).


"A race is a distinct population of humans distinguished in some way from other humans." (google/wikipedia)

This girl was Muslim, wearing a hijab and sported the identity of an orthodox Muslim girl. Which is why she was discriminated against. Hence the term .. racism.

Under the Canadian law, with some exceptions, we are protected from discrimination based on:

• national or ethnic origin, race, ancestry, place of origin, colour
• disability (physical and/or mental)
religion, creed, political belief, association
• sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy
• age (with exceptions for minors and seniors in some cases)
• marital or family status.

No doubt you yourself know much about discrimination by basis of religion, having used that in your argument for mercy by Canada's refugee board.

'liya said...

Mezba, that's a really good idea you suggested for me to use... I don't shy away from controversy, it's something the kids appreciate. Maybe I'll have them write a reflection about it. If you have any more good ideas just send them my way!

Oh, and guess what, students from one class have asked me to ask the principal for permission to begin an after school debate team because they think I'm a very fair person. I'm so touched! (not sure if I want to give up another evening a week though because I already supervise too many things).

Anonymous said...


So now Canadian definition becomes the right definition of race. How convenient.

Interesting that when it suits muslims, they argue that muslims are far too diverse to be branded as one people and hence whatever Arab muslims are doing, should not be taken as a mirror of all muslims.
And when it suits them, they brand all muslims as one race.

Anonymous said...

The right of a woman to wear the hijab is non-negotiable."

By the same token marrying more than one women is a non negotiable right of a muslim man. Please explain.

Alex said...

It's definitely not discrimination based on religion. The rules for soccer state quite clearly what is an accepted uniform. It would be discrimination if the rules were changed just to allow her to wear her scuba-hat.

Religious discrimination is saying "no, you can't play because you're muslim". On the other hand, there's absolutely nothing wrong with saying "no, you can't play in those clothes, you have to wear the same uniform as everyone else". If you're looking for someone to blame, blame her parents for making her wear that absurd piece of clothing.

singlemuslimah said...

That poor little girl. I can't imagine what this is doing to her. I think it's total crap that she can't play in hijab. What about all of the Muslimah's in the US and everywhere else playing all kinds of sports, even cheerleading, in hijab? Quebec really needs to get it together.

"What is it with the French and the hijab?" I've often wondered that myself.

mezba said...

Tambi, it's not THE "Canadian definition" - don't know where you got that from. The definition I gave is from google/wikipedia, as it is clearly stated.

When it's an Arab issue it's an Arab issue. When it's a Muslim issue, it's a Muslim issue. It's THAT simple.

Arab issues would be exploitation of third world labour in Middle east, racism towards brown people, theocratic rule by dictators and so on. Those are Arab issues only.

Muslim issues would be hijab, suppression of civil rights, discrimination and empowerment of women in backwards Muslim countries such as Pakistan. OK?

Tambi, the debate is about hijab. Her right to wear it is non-negotiable under Canada. And this IS a Canadian issue we are talking about. And no, the right of a Muslim man to marry 4 wives IS negotiable. Get your facts straight.

Alex, If you checked the rules, as supplied by a previous commentator, you would see this.

The rules CLEARLY state that the hijab is within the laws.

Religious discrimination is saying "no, you can't play because you're muslim"

Part of being Muslim (for her) is to wear that "absurd piece of clothing" as you say.

Or are you against a woman's freedom of choice in her clothes? Remember, as per the LAWS of the GAME, she is within her rights.

Single Muslimah, poor girl indeed. I feel for her. Quebec is messed up, especially when the premier was supporting this, and now it turns out he was wrong to say it's within the laws.

Snake Oil Baron said...

From Wikipedia: the greatest reference ever and not at all far left in its bias.

"A race is a distinct population of humans distinguished in some way from other humans"

Followers if Islam are a distinct population? If a Muslim marries into a non Muslim family or community (or the reverse) but retains their religion are their kids multiracial? It does not sound like much of a "distinct population" to me. Italians and Dutch used to be referred to as different races but in the last 60 years or more that has changed.

I do not think that Islam is a race. There are other people do not and people are more likely to marry people who share their opinions. As such we form a "distinct population" and we are distinguished in some way by other humans (moonbats think we are evil). Ergo I am a member of a race and refusing to consider our (followers of rationalism and the Scientific Enlightenment) beliefs when coming to judgments on societal issues is exclusion and constitutes racism against us.

Snake Oil Baron said...

Also, the fact that Canada protects against discrimination on the basis of something does not make it a "race" and violations of this protection should not be labeled racism.

She was not banned from all soccer because of her religion. Her religion mad it impossible for her to participate.

People are always asking for society to remake itself for the convenience of religious observance. Swimming pools will soon need to provide sex separated hours in an already crammed schedule so that those whose religion forbids mixed swimming can exercise their right to inconvenience everyone.

People need to realize that if their religion requires them to be inside on Saturday that is fine but it does not give them the right to cover a public beach with wire to get around that. If your religion makes demands on you they are demands on you not the rest of the world.

And given the way people sue for anything these days, I would not want to be responsible for a child with reduced peripheral vision in a sport that involves running in every direction making contact with another. It is fine to sit here and say that the safety concern is stupid but you are not the one risking fines by God knows what bureaucracy and claims from Hell knows which lawyer.

Em said...


While I'm certainly against any rule prohibiting her from donning the hijab while playing, I can't help but draw a parallel to men's world cup football (soccer)... Even the Iranian and Saudi men's teams regularly expose their knees and often a little above it, too -- clearly constituting the aurat of men.

Instead of fighting for "the right to cover their aurat", the arguably conservative governments (they don't get very much more conservative) encourage their boys to "go strut their knees" before non-mahram, whether in the World Cup or even home leagues. If a national of either country prefers his modesty to participating, he simply doesn't play.

I don't see why the girl in question has to play competitively if she feels so strongly about her hijab (and she should)... If a Muslim man participates in Canadian league soccer, he needs to wear shorts. Same problem. Let me state again that I'm against any ruling forbidding the use of the hijab, but frankly I can't understand see why this has to make headlines.

mezba said...

Snake Oil Baron:
1. this girl was wearing a piece of cloth that she believed her religion mandated her to wear.
2. the wearing of this cloth did NOT contravene the laws of the game or the sports body, as the Toronto Star article clearly states.
3. previous referees did not see a problem with this. Yet as soon as this referee did, the Quebec soccer federation sided with the referee, citing laws, where it clearly is proven that the laws do not bar the hijab.
4. Even Quebec's premier and his opponents waded into the issue, citing rules (which, once again, do NOT prohibit her from wearing the hijab) and stating this as an example of religious accomodation gone mad. There was no need for them to wade into the issue as if Quebec was making an exception for her due to her religion, which it wasn't - BECAUSE IT WAS CLEARLY WITHIN THE LAWS.

Inspite of all of that, none of those ministers, premiers, officials or any other person of authority has not come out and said sorry, we were wrong.

No, this girl has faced a discriminatory action because of who she is (a Muslim) and her religious practices (wearing a scarf).

Second, hijab does not interfere with pheripheral vision, as you will from any woman wearing hijab. Besides, this wasn't a hijab per se. but more of a bandanna. Please also see my response below.

Em: firstly, Saudi and Iran do have a special shorts that goes below the knee in length, in 1994 the Saudis played wearing those shorts (and may I say did the best result for a Saudi team ever). Even today Iran and Saudi has that as part of its uniform.

And no, it's not all right to say if your religion cannot permit you to play sports then don't. Where condition permits, reasonable accomodation is made in Canada for religious reasons. As such, we have Sikh police and RCMP officers wearing turbans (remember: at one time it was a big issue of tradition vs religion). Women in tennis weren't allowed to wear skirts below the knee length (which is why some Catholic girls did not take up tennis). Tennis players were also required to bow before the Queen (which is why French did not take to tennis in Canada). Those laws today appear archaic.

As far as safety is concerned, when rough contact sports such as rugby can be played in a scarf (see Khulud's link) then soccer can be too. Iranian SWAT team has women in scarves. Besides, this wasnt a scarf per se but more of a bandanna. Also, the scarf is not a one piece attached to the shirt. It's actually not that easy to grab a small scarf and pull it - besides it's a blatant foul and a red card.

Sikhs also play cricket, squash and others wearing a small turban. It doesn't take anything away from them, nor does it infringe on the rights of others.

Em said...

Re Saudi soccer and shorts: I admit I don't watch soccer all too often, and I honestly can't remember Saudis in 1994. That said, a quick look at the current official Saudia FA site (both English and Arabic) confirm that this official uniform you allude to isn't made apparent to site visitors from any of the in-play photos hosted at their own official websites - so I'll take it on faith that such official uniforms exist.

Please understand that I agree with the rest of your comment, and am not playing any of it down -- I'm not against women playing soccer or rugby.

Merely to clarify my stance, let me rephrase myself: I'd like to know if sufficiently longer shorts for Muslim men (some of whom must obviously demand them) are permitted in competitive Canadian men's soccer. If they aren't, did "violation of men's religious rights" make headlines? And if they didn't, I don't see why the hijab rule must -- that's all.

Like you, I believe all religious rights should be reasonably accommodated (and you're right, the girl in question should in principle be so).

Epaminondas said...

Obviously Quebec is going to be predominantly catholic, but are there any jewish soccer players in the league?

Were they asked to remove their yarmulkes?

If there are and they were also compelled to remove them or not play...THE END.

If there are and they didn't..then the case is made.

Instead of fulminating grievances, LOOK FOR A SOLUTION.
Make lemonade.

Subhadeep Chakrabarti said...

Nice post......but I'll have to disagree on the 'redneck' Alberta part. Two-thirds of Albertya's ppl are in Edmonton and Calgary which are both pretty tolerant thriving multi-ethnic cities. This from a Bengali-Canadian (born in Kolkata) who has lived in both cities and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is time to give the decades-old 'redneck' image a rest. Personally I've found ppl in Alberta just as liberal as those in TO or Vancouver (never been to Quebec, so, cannot comment on that).
Subhadeep, Edmonton, AB

Alex said...

The rules CLEARLY state that the hijab is within the laws.

Uh no, no they don't. I don't know where you're getting your info from, but it's plain wrong. The rules do not forbid head scarves by name, but the rules are written in such a way that any article of clothing not explicitly mentioned as allowed is deemed to be forbidden.

Part of being Muslim (for her) is to wear that "absurd piece of clothing" as you say.

What the hell do I care what her opinion on being a Muslim is? The Koran says nothing about wearing scuba-hats! If she thought that "part of being a Muslim" was to walk around naked, should that be allowed too?

Or are you against a woman's freedom of choice in her clothes?

She can wear whatever clothes she wants when she's going about her daily business, but if she plans to play soccer, she better wear the same uniform as everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Alex, what the heck is your problem and why do you sound so defensive and upset.


Alex said...

Because I'm tired of people claiming that not making special exemptions for their beliefs is somehow racist. We should have never allowed Seikhs to wear turbans in the military and police forces either. It's not racist or discriminatory to ask people to abide by the same rules - it's discriminatory to make special exemptions for certain groups based on arbitrary lines. If a Sikh soldier in the Canadian army gets to wear a turban, why can't I wear a Clown's wig? Why can't any of us wear whatever the hell we feel like?

The reason this shit pisses me off? Because I've seen way too many people abuse it. As a white, secular member of the military, I have to shave every day, and am not allowed to grow a beard. But Muslim members can go for days without shaving if they feel like it, because "it's part of their religion". THAT is discrimination. Making special rules for someone based on religious grounds IS discrimination. And I see it happening ALL THE TIME. It's about time we did something about it. You don't like wearing the same uniform as everyone else? Fine, don't get yourself involved with any organizations which have uniforms.

And "scuba hat" is simply what the hijab reminds me of. I suppose "scuba hood" would be more accurate.

Sonia said...

many good points made all round, i dont think what alex is saying should be dismissed either. racism? well that is a question. its certainly some sort of exclusion - whether based on 'race' or not is clearly a matter of judgement, and it seems to depend to some extent on people's context whether they make that judgement. Some people are in favour of 'rules' and when it comes to uniforms, some interpret that more strictly than others. i respect this girl's wish to wear a hijab ( though at her age it's probably her parents) - and it would be nice if some compromise could be reached - im not in favour of strict rules. but then again, some mosques won't let me in at all, and others won't let me in without a hijab. i feel exlcuded perhaps? well they could say well put a hijab on and come on in. Who knows?

Anonymous said...

This action wouldn't be racism. It would more appropriately called religious intolerance or religious discrimination. Racism is the believe that one's race is superior to another's. Therefore something like US-slavery was racist. It's not like the ref threw the girl off for being Pakistani or something.

This action doesn't even fall under bigotry. It's just exclusionary based on one's expression of faith. The girl wore a hijab, the ref threw her off the pitch for it since the rules indicated to him that such head garments weren't allowed.

The fact that the ref was a Muslim doesn't make the action right (or wrong), but don't attack his faith either since you don't know him at all.