Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Comments Are More Like Essays

A post on the Raven Entertainment Studio blog incited my ire enough for me to post one of my patented "unnecessarily long comments." I figured that since it was long enough to be a blog post in itself that I should post it here, as well - I'm a cheater that way.

Here's the news story that ruffled Raven's feathers:

By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG - A Judo Manitoba official reduced an 11-year-old girl to tears Saturday when he refused to allow her to compete in a tournament wearing a hijab, or Muslim head scarf.
While other children squared off in the match at a Winnipeg gym, Hagar Outbih could only watch from the sidelines and wonder why she was singled out.
"He said that I can't fight. If I want to fight I have to take it off or I have to leave," Outbih said as tears rolled down her face.
Hagar's mother, Khadaja, tried to console her daughter.
"As a mom I feel so bad that my daughter would go through this." she said.
Judo Manitoba president Dave Minuk made the ruling.
He said it was based on International Judo Federation guidelines.
"It has nothing to do with religion, it is a safety issue," Minuk said. "It (the hijab) could be used to strangle somebody. It could fall over her face."
The Judo Manitoba ruling is the latest controversy in Canada over the wearing of hijabs by Muslim girls in sports.
In April an international referee said a Tae Kwon Do team of mainly Muslim girls was kicked out of a tournament near Montreal because the sport's rules don't allow hijabs.
The team, made up of girls between eight and 12 years old, is affiliated with a Muslim community centre in Montreal and five of its six girls wear the head scarf.
Last February an 11-year-old Ottawa girl was thrown out of an indoor soccer tournament for refusing to remove her hijab.
A federal Conservative MP as well as the Liberals and the NDP have defended the right of girl's to wear religious head-scarfs.
Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, who is Muslim, has said that kicking kids out of sporting events is not the way to help communities live together in harmony.
Hagar Outbih agrees.
"I think they should change the rules because there are lots of people in the world," she said as she hugged her mom.
"There is not just Christians, there are other religions. They should be fair to everybody."
Outbih plans to write a letter of complaint to Sport Manitoba, an amateur sports organization whose chairman is appointed by the Manitoba government.
In a bid to mollify the girl organizers of the Judo match offered Outbih a participation medal, which she politely refused.
"Because I didn't deserve it. If I keep it it would just be bad memories."

Here's a link to the post with his response:

"Muslims and Martial Arts"

And here's mine:

Whenever I hear about someone being suspended from their job for refusing to wear the company uniform, or, as in this instance, not being allowed to compete in a sport because they want to wear unsafe clothing, I think of telling them this:

"Right now, you've got to make a choice: what's more important to you? Your devotion to a god(s) who isn't putting food on your table, or your career? If your religion is more important than your goals, then it wins, and you can go home and pray."

I think the most arrogant thing you can do is to expect an organization in a free country to pay a cost in safety in order to indulge you. Swim classes wouldn't allow a person to swim while wearing the hijab, would they? And would they be expected, if they were a co-ed organization, to start holding separate practices/tournaments for boys and girls if the hijab could not be worn? You can't accomodate everyone's whims, and in the end, it's up to the organization itself to decide what is acceptable. If we don't like it, we can always start our own group, or take the easier route and, instead of demanding that THEY accomodate US, accomodate THEM.

Let me share a graphic example: I worked at Canada's Wonderland a few years ago, and it was the typical minimum wage job - which is to say, I learned to look upon everyone with equal contempt. If you've been to Wonderland, you'll know that there is a "Season's Pass" available to purchase which will get you admission into the park for the entire season, May to October - it's worth the price if you live near Toronto and you're chronically unemployed. The pass requires that a photo be taken, because the rules of purchasing the pass specify that it be used ONLY by the purchaser - this is so that a person doesn't come into the park and pass their card back to their friend waiting outside. It's business, and it's the terms of the agreement to purchase the pass: no photo, no use. I think you can see where this is going: a woman in the full-covering hijab walks into the building where the photos are to be taken, and refuses to remove the face covering. This is either clever, or adamantly stupid, take your pick. We explian that your face needs to be visible - no dice. So we tell her she can't use the pass until the picture is taken. Obviously, she gets upset, because how dare we, HOW DARE WE, try to decide the terms of admission into the park? It's not like the owners of Canada's Wonderland actually maintaint he park, or provide you with the fun you so fervently seek. How dare they presume to decide that they can run their business as they please?

No one's forcing you to take part in the martial arts tournament, or get the job, or visit the theme park: if you don't agree to the terms, you can leave. That's the cost you pay for living with other people, THAT'S the key to "harmony:" negotiation and compromise. If taking part in a martial arts tournament is not worth the cost of removing your religious gear, then don't do it, just as if I don't think a litre of milk is worth $2, I don't buy it - I don't demand that the store owner give me the milk for the more-reasonable-to-me cost of $0.30.

If the cost is too high, don't pay the price - just because a hijab doesn't have a price tag on it doesn't mean that it doesn't count.

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