Tag Archives: headscarf

Is this not discrimination?!

8 Mar

I read in an article that Hema, a shop in Genk, Belgium, fired one of its staff members today. The sole reason for this decision? The woman in question wears a headscarf. The management of the shop received a number of complaints from (narrow-minded) customers about her headscarf, and decided to get rid of her.

The woman is Belgian, and when she first started to work there, she didn’t wear a headscarf yet. Then she decided to wear it (i.e nobody obliged her). She did ask the management of the shop first if she would be allowed to work there with a headscarf, and they gave their permission. But apparently some narrow-minded people took offence and complained. The management changed their mind and asked her to take it off. She refused. Then they fired her.

I read the comments on the article, and they were almost all in favor of the decision that the shop made. What kind of society are we living in? Is this not paternalistic and discriminating? Is this not other people deciding what a woman can and cannot wear? And all this happened on international woman’s day! Or is this day only to promote respect for Western, non-Muslim women?

Since she’s Belgian, it’s not a case of “racism”, and no organisation is really bothered by it. But wait until a woman gets fired because she wears a mini-skirt, then the public will scream and protest that we are living in the 21st century and that a woman can now decide for herself what she wants to wear.
It’s not because you don’t understand why a woman would want to wear a headscarf, that it’s impossible that she does it out of her own free will. It seems that Belgian, or should I say Flemish society is moving away from being tolerant and open-minded, to a place where it’s perfectly acceptable to fire a person based on his/her religion. It scares me, and on the other hand, it makes me more determined than ever to wear headscarf myself and to fight for my rights as a Belgian citizen and human being!

 

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Being a Muslim in the West

7 Jan

I was born into a Christian family, although only by name, since my parents aren’t really religious. After years of reading and research, I converted to Islam last summer (alhamdulillah). I’ve been familiar with the Islamic lifestyle for a while longer though, because I purposely started to spend time with other muslim girls. And in the end, I was so familiar with it that it seemed to become my own lifestyle. I still didn’t convert at that moment though, because I was thinking about my parents, family,…just everyone except myself really. I believed in God, and I felt at home with the Islamic lifestyle, but I was afraid of the consequences of my decision. I was waiting until I suddenly had the courage to tell my parents I wanted to do this. Courage that never came, and that still hasn’t come.
In the end, I came to the realisation that it was my life, and that I should live it for me (not very original, I know).

I converted in August, and something strange happened for a short while. All the things I hadn’t been doing voluntarily for a while, because of my interest in Islam, suddenly became compulsory for me not to do (not drinking, not wearing T-shirts, but long clothes, not going to parties, etc.). I don’t know about humans and their inclination to fight against any obligations, but I was starting to feel afraid I made the wrong decision, because of all this obligations that “suddenly” fell on me (while I had been living by this obligations for a year or more). Luckily, it was just a feeling, and it passed, when I started to look again at all the beauty that Islam is. I realised it was not an easy choice, but it was MY choice, and I felt proud of myself.

But I live in an European country, and the majority here has a very different lifestyle. I’m not complaining. It’s not because I’m muslim, that I think everyone should suddenly follow me. I also think the West has achieved a lot of great things, like freedom of speech, critical thinking, and democracy. But it does mean that it was my job to set boundaries for myself, in my dealing with others. I’m a student, and I’m staying in a student-house, where I’m the only muslim. There were going to be a lot of times I would have to say “no, thanks” to other people. Luckily I have friends who respect the way I want to live my life, and not press me to drink alcohol for example.
I developed this kind of compass inside of me, that pointed me in the right direction. It’s my guide in knowing what’s acceptable to me as a muslim, and what isn’t. And at times, when I ignore this compass, I feel it very strongly, because I end up feeling bad, and not wanting to repeat the experience again. It’s still challenging, and sometimes I find myself longing to live in an Islamic country, to not always feel like the odd one out. Maybe I will someday, God only knows.

More and more people start to know about my conversion, but I still haven’t found the courage to tell my parents yet. I’m scared of how they would react. They haven’t done the same research that I have about Islam. They only came in touch with it through the media, and I think I can safely say that that’s not a good thing. I’m also not very good at explaining things, like expressing the knowledge that I have inside of me, and I fear their questions and my inadequate answers.
I also want to wear headscarf, but I know this is impossible, until I’ve told my parents. They might never accept, but at least they would know.
It’s still a long way to go, but I don’t regret my decision, because I think this lifestyle really suits my nature. Religion is also very important to me, and I consider myself a religious person. Not as in conservative and strict, but a person who needs God in her life.
I just hope that one day I can live my life fully, as I want to live it, and not feel afraid of other people’s judgement anymore.