Wednesday, March 03, 2010

It's a Two-Way Street My Lady

I read an article in Globe and Mail today about a Muslim woman who has recently immigrated to Quebec (Canada). She attended a french class with a black all-covering garment and a veil (niqab) on her face.

"The class was designed to encourage open conversation among immigrant students"

" She gave presentations from the rear of the classroom with her back to the class, which counted three men among 20 students. She even one day asked male students to move away from her. For one-on-one exercises, the woman would retreat to a corner with her female instructor"

Apparently after one term the instructor changed and there was a male teacher this time. Students sat around a U-shaped table and the teacher wanted to see everybody mouth to make sure they are pronouncicng the word correctly.

The Muslim woman of our story became so irritated, quite the French class and has launched a human-rights complaint against the province!!!!

It is so obvious that she was absolutely uncomfortable in that class who has only three male students, she was extremely irritated when a teacher asked her to show her mouth so that he can help her to improve her pronunciation. I don't understand why someone like her would wish to live in Quebec in first place. She is from Eygept (according to the newspaper) and as far as I know Egypt is a nice country with decent economy situation no war. Isn't she more comfortable to stay where she can freely wear her niqab and not be annoyed by the presence of male classmate?

What bothering me is that why on earth some one like her thinks it's OK to immigrate to a new country and expect, that country totally bend to her satisfaction but she can just stay as rigid as she likes.NO IT'S A TWO-WAY STREET PEOPLE. I think that male students have a right to complaint about her because she treated them like they have fatal contagious diseases or something. That must be embarrassing for them when she told them to get away from her. what the hell she thought they might do to her? practicing french? oh that's bad. It's ok for her to insult others because of her "beliefs" but it's an unforgivable act if her teacher ask her to uncover her mouth so that he can correct her. Have some tolerance for god sake!

These stuff really irritates me. Because I think someone like her considers all of those who are not Muslims or even those who are moderate/normal Muslims as  infidels. I can't be sure that someone like her would be tolerant toward others who are tolerant toward her.

Wake up for god sake, if your beliefs makes you hate other human beings because they are not like you, you are screwed you got it all wrong. Your practice is supposed to make you a better person, someone who loves and spreads kindness not some one who easily filled with hate. Your religion is a tool to help you to reach to your goals it's not a goal itself.
The pic is from here.

P.S There was an update to the story of this Egyptian lady at the French class. She was upset with  all this publicity and apparently the article didn't said the whole story and it was intentionally written in a way to show  her as a freak fundamentalist. I am sure she is like any other woman, a mom of three who wants to interact. I know just a piece of black garment don't make her less human. I think we need to interact much more than this to stop judging each other.

15 comments:

Behi said...

I can never understand why they decide to live in such countries instead of their own!

Anonymous said...

Ahh I know this story so well,
You see some people believe that They are RIGHT, and there for
in their mind everyone must bend to their superior judgment.
With these people I try to come from a place of compassion, and treat them like the children that they are.
Thank you for the links to the persian music. I have always adored Hafiz, and Rumi, when translated well, can be beautiful as well.
With much gratitude...

Malihe said...

I think in their point of view, they are even advertising for their devine beliefs...
They feel responsibility for the others, you know...
;)

Deep Blue Sea said...

You know Hiva ,I just typed a lengthy paragraph and read it and realized its pretty much same as what you said :-) .

She is using the same democracy which gave her freedom to do what she wants in order to get the exact opposite effect.I mean we should have a dictatorship which imposes Liberal values ;-).

Anyway , I think democracies should evolve to create provision for severe punishment for this kind of nonsense where Democracy itself is used to subvert Democracy . And impose it ruthlessly so there is fear in these people. I mean they act with an attitude of assured impunity for their actions ..

Hiva said...

Behi joonam,
Everybody are free to live wherever they want but it's impossible to stay rigid and not even slightly try to fit in.

Mud Honey,
I agree ,
about the link you're very welcome.

Malihe,
Yeah I know what you mean,...

DBS,
:)) Exactly, I don't know how long it would take till these people realize the irony they are living with.

Mehrnaz said...

Dear Hiva:

I am the kind of person who thinks that respect should be both ways, if some religious people think that we should dress modestly in front of them, I would think that, they should remove their hejabs in front of me, because I believe that women with hejab are saying that women are sex objects first and once they cover they become human and this is so insulting to me as a woman.

Having said that, I would not like to go in so far as turning a blind eye at the reality and the truth. The truth about this story you read in the newspaper is not clear, because you just read one side of it and that is the newspaper's perspective.

I have studied and taught in many language classes and looking at one's mouth to help with pronunciation has never been such a big deal and if the teacher had wanted could have helped the student some other way. I suspect that he did that exercise on purpose to irritate the muslim girl. It is like asking her to show her genitals. That's why she is covering her mouth, because she thinks that's part of the sex machine she is.

Democracy is democracy and you can't have a definition for it that fits your beliefs. She has the right to complain about something that she thinks is a kind of harassment and to me it is harassment too (considering her condition and beliefs).

Like any other human being she has the right to decide where she wants to live. Democracy means live as freely as you possibly can without hurting other people physically or mentally with whatever you do.

Your remarks about her beliefs and where she decides to live and what she should have done, are unfair. But see, democracy gives you the right to comment as long as you don't destroy other people's reputation.

Hiva said...

Mehrnaz,
I might be a little unfair although it wasn't my intention that's why I updated the post later.

I never said she shouldn't be here, that's non of my business but I do believe living in multicultural country is impossible if we don't learn about each other and try to be flexible.

What bothering me is that many of these fundamentalist (no matter what religion they have) they don't believe in democracy. They enjoy the freedom they can have but they don't respect that for others. Do you think some one like her let her druthers be free to choose what they want to be? A Muslim father who killed her teenage daughter (here in Toronto )who refused to wear 'Hejab' is one example.

I guess for me anything relates to fundamentalist Muslims reminds me of Islamic regime in Iran, reminds me of those women "khaharane zeinab" who makes a lot of undesired memories for people like me. That's why no matter how hard I try I will be a little biased at the end.

Mehrnaz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mehrnaz said...

Sorry I made a mistake in my other comment.

It is healthier if we don't generalize and be aware of the effect our past and the western media and people around us can have on our minds and try to control it.


I can undertand your frustration and your other commentators' frustrations; but it does not justify our undemocratic judging of other people.


Western media just feeds this frustration and does not promote acceptance of others and their beliefs.

Hiva said...

Mehrnaz,
I totally agree with you no argue on that. The thing that come to my mind for similar situations is this, we are different and if we want to live together and feel like we are country mates we have to draw lines in how much you are supposed to live just like you are living in your original country. we need to recognize how important it is to be flexible, it's a two way street, I need to stop judging people, show tolerance and at the same time use my common sense not to act in a way to be judged easily... (like that guy who started to pray in an airport at gate right before check in announcement and scared the hell out of other passengers who thought he was probably a suicide bomber getting ready for his mission, you know what I mean)..

Mehrnaz said...

I think people who have weaponry factories and get rich by selling guns, most of whom live in America, are responsible for feeding suicide bombers and provoking fundamentalism and instilling fear in the rest of the world. This reality has blurred the truth, the truth is that we must accept each other the way we are, whether dressing or acting the way we used to in our own countries or do whatever we want. I told you the red line is as long as we don't hurt others. In a democracy you can't say people to change their ways of living just because we all have to look and behave the same in the same country. This rationale is like what mullahs are preaching in Iran, because most people are Muslims,everybody should abide by Muslim rules. Unfortunately, by being raised in Iran we are so much used to imposing our ideas on people.
How do you like if somebody told you you can't have chaharshanbe soori in our country because it is not a safe ceremony and people in this country don't do this old, wild, barbaric ritual, so you shouldn't do it either. But you see how democratic countries we live in now have accomodated us while they might not approve of such dangerous ceremonies?!

We need to practice the meaning of freedom and democracy, we are like infants just learning to walk.

Mehrnaz said...

And it is up to us if we want to be judged easily or not. YOu cannot decide for others how to be, so they don't get judged.

Hiva said...

Mehrnaz,
It might be easier to discuss this through your comment just like we are talking. :D

“I think people who have weaponry factories and get rich by selling guns, most of whom live in America, are responsible for feeding suicide bombers and provoking fundamentalism and instilling fear in the rest of the world.”

Suicide bombers are out there, to me that’s more like the act of desperation. Now weapons factory might keep the fear alive to be able to sell, that’s business but if by “responsible for” you are suggesting they are sponsoring, initiating suicide bombers to explode western airplane or other places, that sounds like a conspiracy theory to me…

“This reality has blurred the truth, the truth is that we must accept each other the way we are, whether dressing or ..”

I believe we should talk, we should learn about others culture, we should interact, then we can have positive affect on each other, then we can understand each-other and accept each other as country mates but for that we need to be flexible and open to necessary changes that would happen automatically and helps us to form a bound. It does not mean you have to stop being yourself, or practice new ideas, no you are still yourself but because now you know other people cultures you’ll find a better way to communicate. Let me give you a simple example. When ahmadinejad refused to shake hands with that lady from foreign country (I don’t remember which but the photo is allover the internet) and let her stretched hand remain in the air in front of cameras, I felt ashamed. He could simply shake it, and stop embarrassing her. To me it doesn’t matter what he believes that was wrong. I think to be kind is more important than being right, sometimes we can simply give up our rigidness to make a friendship which is more important in my opinion.

When you are saying we must accept each other the way we are I think it suggests people don’t have to be flexible, everybody can stay as rigid as they want because everybody are going to accept you the way you are. In my opinion it’s simply impossible, it looks good in theory but it’s not practical. Even husband and wife need to be flexible to bound long and healthy relationship let alone group of people from totally different cultures.

Hiva said...

continue :D

“…acting the way we used to in our own countries or do whatever we want. I told you the red line is as long as we don't hurt others.”

I know what you mean but I think hurting others is not only physically or verbally sometimes it will happen during a time indirectly. What you are suggesting “acting the way we used to in our own countries” can hurt the body of multicultural society in a long term. We would need some softness; we all need to bend a little to the combination of multi cultures and it doesn’t have conflict with being yourself.

“ In a democracy you can't say people to change their ways of living just because we all have to look and behave the same in the same country.”

Of course not, who said that? Being flexible and smart enough to communicate is not changing your way of living.

“This rationale is like what mullahs are preaching in Iran, because most people are Muslims, everybody should abide by Muslim rules. Unfortunately, by being raised in Iran we are so much used to imposing our ideas on people.”

Now this is unfair, you don’t know me and you are judging me already. I guess I adequately explain myself but if you find my ideas the same as mullahs, let’s agree to disagree.


“How do you like if somebody told you you can't have chaharshanbe soori in our country because it is not a safe ceremony and people in this country don't do this old, wild, barbaric ritual, so you shouldn't do it either. But you see how democratic countries we live in now have accomodated us while they might not approve of such dangerous ceremonies?!”

It won’t hurt me a bit, because I told you before, we need time to understand each other. We actually prepared a presentation two years ago with my friends in St. John’s and explained to our audience all about Charshanbesoory, the story behind it and the beauty of it. Everybody loves the idea…

“We need to practice the meaning of freedom and democracy, we are like infants just learning to walk.”

Yeah that’s right.

“And it is up to us if we want to be judged easily or not. You cannot decide for others how to be, so they don't get judged.”

I never decide for others. This is my personal idea and recommendation for people who want to live in multicultural country and feels like country mates.
Anyway it was nice talking to you, we don’t have to convince each other and yeah that’s democracy..

Mehrnaz said...

Wanting people to be flexible is one thing and blaming them and saying they don't believe in democracy because they are not flexible is another thing. I think our discussion started from there and you accepted to some extent about unfairness of some of your remarks.

I don't say weaponry factories are the sole responsible, but wanted to show you other side of the story as well.

That is another advantage of democracy that you can have your own ideas and speak them freely as long as you don't hurt other people and let others have their own ideas as well and speak them and act upon them with the same condition.

I don't want to discuss the goodness of being flexible here, because I agree with you. But just remember some people are not flexible and have their own strong beliefs and we can't force them to change. Maybe writing in this blog, or on the press in a respectful way is a start to change some mindsets.

Good Luck