Cases of ‘hijabaphobia’ increasing in Quebec

MONTREAL – More and more Muslim women are coming forward about being victims of what’s being called “hijabaphobia.”

A teacher at Université de Sherbrooke conducted an anonymous online survey that found an increase of violence and intolerance towards women wearing the hijab.

Geneviève Pinard Prévost surveyed 388 Muslim women.

“It may not look like a lot of women in the total of Muslim women in Quebec,” she said.

“But it’s a lot of women who live with this kind of problem in the province.”

Of the women who took the survey, 88 per cent said they no longer feel safe leaving their homes.

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They especially feel scared taking the bus and metro by themselves.

What the survey revealed is that the violence comes in many different forms, and the women noticed that the increase was linked to the province’s proposed charter of values.

Everyday acts of violence
Daycare worker Hanadi Saad has been threatened, intimidated and physically attacked in the past few months.

She told Global News that she feels she has seen and heard it all.

“‘Terrorist go back home,’ ‘you will get out of your veil, terrorist,’ all this kinds of stuff,” she said.

“And then he was taking off his pants.”

This occurred as she was heading out of a grocery store.

On a another occasion, she found her car vandalized in a parking lot.

“After September 11, there was a little of tension but it wasn’t like this,” she noted.

“Now it’s the worst and it’s getting worse and worse.”

READ MOREQuebec charter could be key to PQ election campaign

Another Montrealer, Sama Al-Obaidy, has also been harassed for wearing the head scarf.

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“It was a rush hour and she tried to remove my hijab from me, so she tugged at it a few times till eventually I had to stop her.”

What’s changed in Quebec?
The president of Quebec’s Women’s Federation blames the government for allowing the focus of the charter debate to drift to veiled women.

“In a sense, it’s a form of institutionalized racism, when even the state doesn’t do everything in its power to make sure these prejudices haven’t been encouraged,” said Alexa Conradi.

The testimonies from Pinard Prévost’s survey have been submitted to the Quebec minister responsible for Bill 60, Bernard Drainville. So far, there has been no response.

Read the report [in French] in full below:

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