For a Calm Debate on the Islamic headscarves

Context:

Without reaching the scale it reaches in France, the storm threat in Quebec on the issue of Islamic headscarves in schools. The issue is extremely complex because it involves both religious, sociological and political elements. The stakes are enormous in terms of integration and intercultural harmony. The debate around this question is engaged in some passionate and poorly documented discussions: it consists mainly of clashes between supporters and opponents of the veil at best between advocates of tolerance and all-out supporters of binding regulations banning the wearing of headscarves in schools. This kind of debate is useful, but its scope in terms of solutions, consensus building, compromise acceptable (reasonable accommodation in a fashionable terminology) is almost zero. It has led so far to a tension on both sides and deepening of mutual incomprehension.

Objectives:

Creating a basic document for the general public and stakeholders in the school especially on the issue of veiled girls in the Quebec context, while the five components:

  • The veil in Islam: obligation, recommendation or misinterpretation?
  • The veiled girls: willing and constraints?
  • Muslim communities in Quebec, between fundamentalism and secularism;
  • The integration of Muslim immigrants: between ghettoization and assimilation;
  • Trails for reasonable accommodations.

Achievements:

The Working Group on the headscarf issue has been formed by CEAD over the last two months. The members of this group are distinguished by several of their public /mediatic statements on the issue: Yolande Gedeah, Jawad Sqalli, Mortada Zabouri, Rashad Antonius, Ali Daher, Naima Bendriss, among others. The group already includes people of Arab (Muslim and Christian) and Quebecers "ethnic" as various stakeholders in the issue. The group has expanded to include representatives from the school (teachers, agents of middle school principals, officials from the Ministry of Education, unions) and members of Muslim communities.

  • Determine the content of educational materials;
  • Promote consensus among the public in general and Muslim communities;
  • Notify schools, school boards and the Quebec government on addressing issues relating to the headscarf in schools and, more generally, the particular problems of integration of Muslim girls;
  • Develop mechanisms among veiled girls, their families and community spokespersons Muslims, to explain and promote consensus.

Year: 
1995 - 1996
Locations: 
Canada