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Macy’s embraces diversity with modest line for Muslim women

Macy’s announced their intention to sell a modest clothing collection that would target Muslim women. The Verona Collection will feature “versatile, ready-to-wear pieces including maxi dresses, tops, cardigans, pants and hijabs in a variety of colours and fabrics.”

“Verona Collection is more than a clothing brand. It’s a platform for a community of women to express their personal identity and embrace fashion that makes them feel confident on the inside and outside,” said Lisa Vogl, founder of Verona Collection, in a statement. “Macy’s has been an amazing partner, helping us strengthen the foundation of our business through The Workshop at Macy’s and now introducing our brand to their consumers through this collaboration.”

Vogl said she converted to Islam in 2011 and had difficulty finding both modest and fashionable clothing in regular outlet stores. She invested $7,000 in her own online company, selling her own line while acting as businesswoman and photographer. Vogyl is a graduate of Macy’s The Workshop, a retail vendor development program supported by the department chain.

“Through The Workshop at Macy’s, we want to nurture and support minority- and women-owned businesses to build their capabilities and become the next generation of retail partners,” said Shawn Outler, Macy’s executive vice president – Licensed Businesses, Food Services and Multicultural Initiatives. “We are truly encouraged by the successes of our graduated businesses, including Verona Collection, and look forward to hosting a new class of participants this spring.”

Not everyone is thrilled about the decision. Feminists are torn — with some applauding Macy’s commitment to diversity in fashion and others criticizing the oppressive background of the hijab. The latter is causing a number of people to boycott the department store.

Verona Collection ranges in price from $12.95 to $84.95 and will be available at macys.com beginning February 15.

What do you think of Macy’s decision? Let us know in the comments below!

First hijab-wearing Barbie launched in ‘Shero’ line

Barbie is getting an international makeover. During Glamour’s Woman of the Year summit, a hijab-wearing Barbie was revealed as one of the first of a line of dolls based on the image of inspirational women.

This particular Barbie is modelled after United States Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won a bronze medal for fencing in Rio last year. The doll wears the white fencing uniform, complete with training shoes, mask, sabre, and of course, Muhammad’s hijab.

Muhammad told the press that she used to make her own hijab for her Barbies when she was younger, and that she hopes this new doll will encourage and inspire young girls to feel included.

“I’m proud to know that little girls everywhere can now play with a Barbie who chooses to wear hijab! This is a childhood dream come true,” she tweeted.

Barbie has often been criticized for their lack of diversity and the size of their dolls. This inspirational line of “Sheros” is the company’s attempt at breaking that image. The line recognizes women who break boundaries and inspire the next generation of young girls. Last year, Mattel, the company that creates Barbie, revealed a variety of sized-dolls inspired by plus-size model and advocate Ashley Graham.

Other “Sheros” include African-American ballerina Mista Copeland, filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Olympian Gabby Douglas, and actresses Kristin Chenoweth and Zendaya Coleman.

The release of the Muhammad-inspired Barbie comes at a time where muslim women are being persecuted around the world. In Canada, Quebec’s Bill 62 law makes it illegal for women to wear the niqab or burkha, while oversees in Europe muslim women are being targeted for wearing burkinis on the beach. In the U.S., white supremacists are protesting immigration and the removal of confederate statues.

The “Shero” line will go on sale in 2018.

What do you think of this Shero line? Does it make up for Barbie’s previous reputation? Let us know in the comments below!

Hundreds march in protest of Quebec’s Bill 62

Hundreds of people took to the streets in Montreal to protest the provincial government’s decision to enact Bill 62, also known as the religious neutrality bill.

This bill makes it illegal for public service workers, as well as people seeking government services, from wearing this any face-covering garb such as the niqab or the burka. The ban also includes the use of public transportation.

While the bill itself doesn’t mention these pieces of clothing, it implies a religious and ethnic target — muslim women. Very few other people wear face-covering materials. The protestors are calling this bill racist and hateful, something that is inviting Islamophobia in Quebec.

The protested marched down Berri St. between Ste-Catherine St. and De Maisonneuve Blv. One hundred and sixty groups from diverse backgrounds were represented in the crowds. They also signed an online petition asking for an end to Islamophobia and hate.

Bill 62 is being challenged at Quebec’s Superior Court. The plaintiffs claim “The Act gravely infringes the religious and equality rights of certain Muslim women in Quebec.”

“While purporting to promote the goals of advancing the religious neutrality of the state and facilitating communication between public employees and private citizens, the Act does the opposite,” the court challenge reads. “It imposes a significant burden on the exercise of religious freedom, and it does so in a discriminatory manner that will isolate some Quebec residents, making it much more difficult for them to participate in Quebec society.”

A judge is expected to review the case on Wednesday. If the judge agrees, the law will be suspended temporarily.

What do you think will happen on Nov. 15th when the judge looks at the court challenge? Let us know in the comments below!

Quebec passes bill prohibiting the niqab while using public services

Wednesday, Quebec’s National Assembly passed a law that will prohibit women from wearing the niqab while using public services.

Bill 62, ironically called the religious neutrality bill, bans public service workers, as well as people seeking government services, from wearing this any face-covering garb such as the niqab or the burka. This ban also extends to using public transportation.

It should also be noted that those who voted against the bill did so because they didn’t think it went far enough. They wanted to extend the ban to include people of authority, like judges and police officers.

To be incredibly clear: if a woman choses to wear the niqab for religious reasons, she will no longer be allowed to work as a teacher, doctor, or government agent. She will also not be able to use any of the services provided by these people and will not be able to take the bus to get there if she finds someone sympathetic to her beliefs.

The bill carefully avoids using the terms niqab or burka, and specifically says people must have their “face uncovered”, and claims this includes people who wear masks to protest. However, there are very few instances where a face would be covered and it is easy to deduce what population is being targeted by this law.

People can apply for an “exemption” to the rule; however the bill also specifies the religious accommodation “is consistent with the right for equality between women and men”, which would most likely rule out the niqab. The bill also says that “the accommodation must be reasonable in that it must not impose undue hardship with regard to, among other considerations, the rights of others, public health and safety, the effects on the proper operation of the body, and the costs involved.” This makes exemptions extremely subjective and difficult to receive.

The best part of the bill is the little disclosure at the end that says: “The measures introduced in this Act must not be interpreted as affecting the emblematic and toponymic elements of Québec’s cultural heritage, in particular its religious cultural heritage, that testify to its history.”

Honestly, if I was a politician in Quebec, I wouldn’t want this bill affecting the history or culture of my province either. It paints an absolutely despicable picture similar to other fascist countries.

I’m not a big fan of the niqab. Most women aren’t. But, I would never force a woman who chooses to wear one to remove it. I would also never prevent a woman from taking the bus or from picking up her child at school because of what she is wearing. This is not a security issue or a communications issue. This is racism in its simplest form. This is a group of people afraid of someone who dresses a bit differently. The law does not encourage “religious neutrality” as the government claims. It doesn’t prevent people from wearing a cross or a yarmulke on the bus or at the doctor’s office. It directly attacks one religion over others.

Personally, I’m hoping someone brings this bill to the Supreme Court. Quebec politicians should be ashamed at the blatant discrimination they just enacted in to law.

This is not my Canada. Is it yours?

The law is affective immediately.

When buying lingerie can make the news

Clutch your pearls! Just recently, radio business reporter, Michael Kane was strolling through a shopping mall in Toronto and he noticed something that peaked his interest. He decided to tweet his recount, “ I’m just a reporter: saw two modestly dressed women with religious headgear come out of Victoria’s Secret store in the Eaton Centre.”

It’s 2017, so why is it shocking that women were spotting leaving a lingerie store? Women of all categories are entitled to wear underwear if they choose to do so. Much less, why is it an issue that these women were modest and wearing ‘religious headgear’? Muslim women are women too and it should not be tweet-worthy that they were seen exiting a lingerie store.

Mr Kane’s tweet was not warmly welcomed in such a multicultural city like Toronto. For a society that prides itself on diversity and celebrating various cultural backgrounds, scenarios like this are borderline funny and infuriating. People on social media began grabbing on to the phrase “ I’m just a reporter” and responded to Kane with tweets such as “I’m just a reporter: saw a group of White teenagers, in Lululemon outfits playing basketball in a public park.” Scenarios like this does not open a door for positive discussion, instead it brings up issues of ethnicity, social hierarchy, and stereotypes.

Kane made a poor attempt in claiming his tweet was meant to celebrate diversity and promote positive feedback, saying he wanted to bring “news to some, joyful observation to others,” while responding to one Twitter user. The tweet was unnecessary and though he did not say Muslim women, it is clearly implied. Kane continues to gather angry responses and some people even noted this casting of Muslim women as ‘others’ revealing Kane’s cultural insensitivity and intentional or unintentional views as a white male living in a diverse society.

Kane continued to defend himself against the critics, saying he was just sharing his views and he suggested people not judge him. The problem is that people on social media are hypocritical — people cast judgement, but don’t want want to accept judgment cast upon themselves. The tweet, and the conversation that followed, is entirely prejudice and unmindful. Needless to say, Kane did not win his diversity battle and his poor attempt of celebrating another culture seemed creepy, sexist, racist, and why was this a story worth the attention of others on social media?

Kane has since deactivated his twitter and honestly, I’m just a reporter: but it’s time to end cultural, sexist and ethnic insensitivity, evaluate your thoughts, and own up to your actions.

Would you hang a Canadian flag in front of your mosque?

What does the Canadian flag mean to you? For Jawad Rathore, it represents all things Canadiana — and he thinks it should be flown in front every mosque in Toronto.

“We see Muslims right now being subjected to harassment. Hate crimes are up, [and] rhetoric publicly and privately is up. There are terrible things happening around the world in the name of Islam,” Rathore said in an interview. “[Putting up Canadian flags is] a wonderful way to remind our neighbours that we are Canadian. There is nothing to fear.”

Rathore, who is also president and CEO of Fortress Real Development, presented the idea to the Canadian Muslim Vote last week and received an overwhelmingly positive response. Rathore says he has already received funding from the community for over 50 flags and he has received messages from mosques across Canada asking to participate.

The Canadian Muslim Vote is a non-partisan organization whose objective is to promote greater community engagement among the Muslim-Canadian population. It was founded last year as a response to low voter turnout with a goal to increase attendance and engagement during the 2015 federal elections. And they did the job. According to Rathore, turnout was close to 79 per cent.

JR
Jawad Rathore

Now, the organization is focusing on integrating communities through a “very simple” campaign. At its core, the campaign is about unity and pride during a time in which people are being marginalized. Hate speech is rampant, even in Canada, a country whose foundation is based on religious freedom. As Rathore says, there is a lot of fear among those who don’t understand the Islam faith and putting up a Canadian flag symbolizes unity in a time of uncertainty.

“It’s a way to let our community know we are their neighbours,” he said.

Rathore may be spearheading this campaign through Canadian Muslim Vote, but he says every corporation and community member should be giving back.

“Give what you can afford — give a little, give often, give once a year,” he said. “Many of us in the corporate world are incredibly blessed and if we turn our minds over to the community. Whether initiative like this or any other benefits – the world would be a better place.”

Rathore is confirming a list of mosques that are willing to participate in the campaign and is working out the physical details for installation. He has also committed to do the first 10 flags himself.

The first flag should be installed by the end of September and, if the campaign goes well, Rathore hopes to be able to install flagpoles in front of mosques across Canada.

If you are interested in contributing to the campaign, email canadaflag@canadianmuslimvote.ca.