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Canada Hate Crime: Would I Be Brave Enough To Adopt The Hijab If I Wanted To?

Posted: June 15, 2021

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Would not being visibly Muslim keep a woman, a family safe if there is hate, or would it be enough just to be marked out by the colour of their skin?

On the 6th of June, a 20 year old ‘visibly white’ person drove a truck over a Canadian-Muslim family in London, Ontario, killing the husband and wife, their 15 year old and the husband’s mother. Leaving behind their 9 year old with serious injuries.

Canada did not skip a beat to declare this as a pre-meditated hate crime attack; calling it an act of terrorism, and I am proud of this country for that.

This incident definitely drew a lot of conversations and debates with family and friends around me, on social media and in person; leaving me wondering – on which side of the coin was I…?

Being visibly Muslim a hazard

I’m an Indian Muslim, but not visibly so. I do not wear a hijab. I don shorts in summers. And that is completely out of choice.

This incident set me wondering, that if I ever chose to adopt the hijab, would I be brave enough to do so? With my hand on my heart, I would not be. I would want to keep my family safe and I do not want to die, at least not like this.

Is that my side of the coin then? Do I not stand by folks who choose their faith over safety?

The Muslim hijab or the Sikh turban or the Jewish kippah (skull-cap) are a lot more than just visible symbols of faith. The identity of the individual is rooted there; so are their beliefs. Giving it up would be giving up a significant part of them; giving up their identity.

But don’t women cover their heads for other reasons? Then what?

If that hijab clad Muslim woman was not safe, how safe would I be if I have the dupatta covering my head to protect me from the sun? The dupatta which I had to take probably as a futile attempt to avert the infamous male gaze?

How safe is that cancer survivor who chooses to cover her bare head?

Would that family be safe, if the women in the family did not have their heads covered? Maybe or maybe not. Because they would not be able to scrap off the brown of their skin, even if they wanted to.

From subtle offensive comments to a heinous hate crime, done in the name of differences, be it gender, religion, race, skin colour etc., need to be condemned and punished.

I don’t need to look like someone or hold the same beliefs, to recognize injustice and voice my disapproval of it, even if it is just that, that I can do.
The side of the coin which I would be on is the one which does not accept intolerance towards differences, at any cost.

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