Tadamon! stands firmly against the Quebec Charter of Values proposed by the Parti Québécois. The Charter, announced in detail on 10 September 2013, seeks to eliminate select religious symbols from government services and organizations, in particular by banning public sector employees from wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols. The Quebec public sector includes workers in hospitals, courtrooms, municipal offices, schools, daycares, and universities, among others. In effect, this bill — if passed — will preclude anyone who wears the hijab, niqab, turban, kippah and “large religious pendants” from acquiring or keeping jobs in a massive segment of the workforce. Furthermore, Muslim women who wear the niqab will be prevented from receiving government services.
Tadamon! (Arabic for “solidarity”), is a Montreal-based collective working in solidarity with struggles for self-determination, equality and justice in the ‘Middle East’ and in diaspora communities in Montreal and beyond. We oppose all systems of oppression whether based on gender, sexual orientation or class and we reject racism in its various forms, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. Furthermore, we reject nationalism: its exclusions and its tendency to exploit, rather than challenge, oppressions based on class, gender, “race” and ethnic or religious affiliation. We do not support any government or political party.
On this basis, we reject the xenophobic Charter of Quebec Values and the racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and sexism it propagates. If passed, the Charter will undoubtedly increase the precarity of already marginalized communities: it prescribes economic repression, inequality, and injustice for specific faith groups by (further) limiting the opportunities available in our already unequal society. Moreover, it has already inspired increased verbal and physical violence against Muslim women.
We must be clear about the intent and consequences of this proposed legislation: through the Charter, the Parti Québécois is actively sanctioning discrimination and violence, creating a platform for virulent racism and xenophobia.
The State’s fixation on the hijab and niqab, in particular, is a reminder of Quebec and Canada’s legacy of colonialism, and calls to mind the politicization of the veil in French-colonized Algeria. The Charter rests upon a similar colonial logic and political opportunism, promoting egregious stereotypes of Muslim women as being without agency. We reject this characterization, and support Muslim women in their struggles for self-determination.
Moreover, we reject the disingenuous discourse the Parti Québécois has promoted in their framing of the Charter as “feminist”. Telling people — and particularly women, so often the subjects of such attention — what to wear or what not to wear is unacceptable on any grounds. Indeed, the great irony is that the State, while accusing pious men of forcing items of clothing upon pious women, is deploying precisely the same paternalistic logic in telling women what not to wear.
This “Charter of Values” — whose values? — must not be allowed to pass. To this end, we stand in solidarity with all those who struggle against poverty, precarity, racism and exclusion.
Tadamon! endorses the October 20 demonstration and march organized by the ‘Ensemble Contre les Chartes Xénophobes coalition’.