Et tu, Malala?
There are some names that don’t need introductions. No pre-ambles. Malala is one of them. Her name is synonymous with education, with women rights, with the Nobel prize. With Pakistani pride. People all around the world follow her and respect her efforts and what she stands for. So imagine the horror when someone asks her to change something that is an integral part of her.
Recently, the Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge posted a photo with Malala.
Quebec is a province of Canada.
Quebec was recently in the news for its controversial “Bill 21”. This bill, passed in June of 2019, bans teachers, police officers, judges, etc from wearing items of religious and cultural significance on duty like hijabs, turbans, kippas, and crucifixes.
In light of these events, a journalist asked Mr. Roberge how he would respond if Malala wished to become a teacher in his province to which he promptly responded “I would certainly tell her that it would be an immense honor and that in Quebec, as is the case in France (where we are now) and in other open and tolerant countries, teachers cannot wear religious symbols in the exercise of their functions.”
Open and tolerant, Mr. Roberge?
It seems like he is forgetting that Malala is enrolled at one of the top universities of the world, Oxford University, in one of the leading countries of the world: England. And they have no problem with her scarf.
What do people think about this?
The world was quick to raise backlash on this and there was a general uproar regarding his statement. Most of the comments came from Canadians themselves, quick to point out that this was not what their country stood for and that he should be removed from power.
Another mentioned how the whole scenario is reminiscent of 1976 when Canada passed The Immigration Act where it stated who would be allowed in the country and who would be kept out.
Frankly, we see it too.
How is an “open” and “tolerant” country opposed to people “choosing” to wear what they wish to if it’s in the limit of decency and professionalism? We ask the same question as many others. And addressing that to Malala, who is a symbol and role model for girls all around the world, especially Muslim girls.
Malala, who proudly wore her headscarf to the United Nations, to the Nobel Prize ceremony, and still continues to do so wherever she goes.
As one Pakistani user pointed out on Twitter, it’s not just Muslim women who cover their heads. Even The Queen of England does the same!
Hey it's not just Malala. Guess who else wears a headscarf…the Queen. Canada's monarch.
— Laaleen Sukhera✒ (@laaleen) July 7, 2019
And another used a perfect meme reference to show her opinion on this matter.
— Mashal Iftikhar (@DesiDocMI) July 6, 2019
And then the age-old adage now, as one Twitter user pointed out, of telling women what to wear and how to live their lives. It seems like it is a never-ending issue, from the common woman to a global hero.
As the world deals with other bigger issues, like the planet dying and the economies failing, is this really something to object over? Should we still dictate an individuals choice of garments in 2019?
This statement coming from an education minister of supposedly one of the most tolerant countries of the world has us in surprise. Tell us what you think too!