Hajera Khaja, a Canadian Muslim woman who is now “scared of the new face of Canada,” had the opportunity to write about her fears in the National Post, a major media outlet in Canada.
“Like most visible Muslims who have experienced Islamophobia, I treated them as anomalies in an otherwise peaceful and respectful environment…(like)… The rude server at Boston Pizza who rolled her eyes when I asked her to clarify the halal options on the menu.”
Visible Muslim — I guess that is code for a woman wearing a niqab or may be a hijab. She also wrote about her fear for her husband because he has a beard. It seems a beard is a dead Muslim giveaway, too, at least according to Khaja. I don’t know how a beard gives anything away, today. Have you watched baseball lately? Have you looked at the male models lately? But she knows her husband is marked for Islamophobic comments.
Khaja said “The country I’ve called home for the last 18 years seems to be changing.” She opines her environment is changing “rising from the xenophobic dirt being kicked around by our country’s leaders.” That would be the Harper Conservative Government. The government that stands steadfastly by Israel.
She is talking about xenophobia in Canada. She needs to read Ahmad Hashemi, former Iranian foreign minister: “Intellectuals as well as secular and religious scholars of the Muslim world need to understand that without resolving the core principle of tolerance for the “other” — starting with Israel — they cannot reach genuine democracy and peace. We must search within ourselves for the roots of our problems. The age-old problems of inequity and discrimination, violence, disrespect for human rights, misogyny and anti-woman behaviors, intolerance and racial hatred, sectarianism, corruption, fundamentalism and extremism are deeply rooted in our sociopolitical structure.”
Khaja wants us to be sensitive to her needs — “the other” — without a reciprocal sensitivity. She does take comfort in the fact that Zunera Ishaq is a model Canadian who won’t bend to the will of bullies and be intimidated into giving up her rights. This is the woman who won the right to wear a niqab while taking the Canadian oath of citizenship. She wouldn’t take the oath until she was given that right.
In Canada, the Federal Government has steadfastly been against a woman wearing a face-covering when becoming a citizen. Most Canadians are against face-coverings at any time. With the Canadian election just days away, some Muslims are saying that the Conservative Party is causing division among the people over the issue of the niqab and is encouraging Islamophobia.
While Khaja shares her fears with us about us, I see a woman who has not shown gratitude for the fact that she has been given the blessing of living here, a country steeped in Western culture. Some of us are here by the luck of birth — born into this most blessed country, but she chose to be here. She had to apply to come here. She wanted to come to Canada. And I am asking myself, “Why?” Why did she want to come here?
Among her litany of complaints was the reaction of the server at Boston Pizza (a restaurant chain) who was rude when Khaja asked for clarification of halal options on the menu. What? She walked into a chain restaurant and expected halal? In Canada? Why? What made her think that any chain restaurant in Canada should have halal? Is this her idea of accommodation and inclusion and tolerance of her? According to Statistics Canada, 2013, there are only 1,053,945 Muslims in Canada or about 3.2% of the population which makes them the second largest religion after Christianity. Yet we should make her comfortable to the point that chain restaurants should have halal. And the kosher options at these restaurants? How is it that I never expected a chain to have kosher food, but she expects one to have food just for her?
And surprise! Boston Pizza outlets across Canada are working to provide halal everywhere. So she has this option, but was disappointed by the server for being rude. Khaja has what I call an attitude of grandiose infantile delusions of entitlement. She comes to this country and makes demands of us. If I go to Saudi Arabia will I be able to ask a restaurant employee for the kosher items? She wonders why Canadians are a tad apoplectic. It isn’t Islamophobia. All she has to do is look in the mirror. Wear a hijab. Who cares? Really — who cares? Indian women wear the sari and often cover their hair.
It isn’t the clothing Khaja — it’s the attitude. It’s the complaining that no matter what we do it isn’t good enough for you. You were insulted by the server at a restaurant. And so you blame the Conservative Party. Perhaps you need to search within yourself for the roots of your problem.
According to you, “we are not the bastion of an open and tolerant society.” Yet, we have a law that allows for your face to be covered. And we have restaurants providing halal. Not accommodating enough? What else can Canada do for you?