A former University of Missouri assistant professor by the name of Youssif Z. Omar was arrested last week following an incident at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri involving a 14-year old female relative.
Omar became enraged when he saw the girl was not wearing the hijab. He accosted the girl, grabbed her by the hair, forced her into his car and slapped her. Local police arrested Omar, charged him with suspicion of child abuse, but he would be released on a bond of $4,500.
This incident makes me think of the recent Canadian election where the niqab became a key issue. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals played it as an issue of religious freedom. Shortly after the Liberals were elected, the Trudeau government dropped an appeal of an earlier court decision allowing Muslim women to wearing the face covering niqab during citizenship ceremonies. The appeal had been launched by the previous Conservative government of Stephen Harper.
During the first French language leaders’ debate, Trudeau stated, “I think that if a man can’t impose his will on how a woman should dress, we shouldn’t let the state impose how a woman shouldn’t dress.” Yet this is precisely where Trudeau misses the point about the niqab and, for that matter, the hijab. The fact of the matter is that in many Muslim families in both the United States and Canada, girls and women do not have a say in the matter when it comes to covering their heads and even their faces. In many of these Muslim households, men do impose their will on how a woman or girl should dress be it a husband, father, uncle, cousin or even a younger brother.
This often happens behind closed doors, but as this incident in Columbia, Missouri attests sometimes this happens out in the open. Going forward, especially with an influx of Syrian refugees coming to U.S. and Canada I believe we will be seeing a lot more of it. How we respond will become a litmus test concerning the survival of Western civilization.