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Fred says that Muslims can’t curl (some strange Canadian sport played on ice), so obviously Amaar puts together a team to prove him wrong. Rayyan is very good at playing, but bad in a team, so she changes to Fred’s team, who proceed to kick out Fred, who then gets Rayyan banned for wearing the hijab. In the B-story, Yassir sells Sarah’s clothes to a second-hand store when she makes him pay for her shopping.

Best quote:

Amaar: Sarah, you must know how to curl?
Sarah: Oh, I get it, just because I’m white I must know how to curl, like all white people curl?
Amaar: DO you know how to curl?
Sarah: Well, yes.

It is not really discussed in this episoce, but let’s talk about banning the hijab. There have been such attempts in various countries, for example France, Germany and Turkey. In Turkey it was forbiden to wear the headscarf in public buildings (like schools, universities, courtrooms) from 1924 until 2008 (Wikipedia). In France the wearing of a face covering was made illegal in 2010 (Wikipedia). Germany has seen several lawsuits of headscarf-wearing teachers, lawyers and others, in most cases the wearing of a headcovering was ruled to be forbidden (Wikipedia). And so on. The laws are mainly aimed at Muslim women, but they affect Jews too, because religious Jewish men and married orthodox women cover their heads.

So what are (some of) the arguments? One is, that people think the scarf is a symbol of the oppression of women. This is of course difficult to answer in general, but there definitely exists a movement of strong, independent, educated women who decide to wear the scarf out of their own will. And if we ban symbols of the repression of women, let’s talk about a ban on playboy and I’m sure we can find more.

A second argument is, that a headscarf is a religious symbol and religious symbols have no place in public life. Consequently, supporters of this argument also have to ban the distinctive dress of nuns and monks or the wearing of a cross or t-shirts with religious messages. While many of them will support even that, in my opinion this is a serious misconception about what freedom of religion means. It does not mean freedom from religion or forced secularization. It means that everybody is free to chose and live her own religion – inside the boundaries of a democratic society of course (no, you should not be allowed to sacrifice people because you are a practicer of Mayan religion). And wearing a scarf is after all only clothing, it does not restrict the rights of others in any way.

Third, the claim is that certain people need to be neutral and un-biased (teachers, judges, state officials). This is why they cannot express their own political and religous opinions. While I agree that I don’t want a teacher to brainwash children in class, I don’t see anything wrong with just knowing about her affiliations. Does it really change anything if I know that this particular teacher is Muslim? Or member of some political party? Maybe it is really not appropriate to know whether she supports a particular political or religious position, but in general the party or the religion? I don’t think so. Rather the opposite: don’t we want role models for young women that show that even as a religious scarf-wearing woman you can be whatever you want, including a teacher, a judge or a state official?

Last, people often make arguments from the desired outcome of such a ban. It would lead to more integration – I don’t really understand that, because you can only be integrated if you look like everybody else? People who dress like hippies or rockers are not integrated? People with a different skin-color cannot be integrated at all? Or, it would lead to more rights/education/work possibilities for women, which I honestly don’t see. An oppressed woman who is forced to wear a veil is now because of the law required to take it off at university causing her to be free and independent? Isn’t it more likely that she will not go to university because of the "immoral" environment where women show their hair (and worse!)? And others. Which are after all only speculations, often made without asking the people involved: Women who want to wear headscarves.

To wrap it up, I don’t really see any good point for banning a head covering in a global way (of course if there are actual security concerns, e.g., it can get into machinery, that’s a different story). I have the impression that people are projecting their prejudices upon the discussion and do not really ask the women themselves.

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