July 10, 2012 | 8 Comments
I know that I have ragged on Quebec society more than once about the apparent intolerance towards freedom of religion. Governments have banned religious dress and some city councils have made it clear that they don’t really like others. We might hope that with a progressive orange wave enveloping the province a year ago, such oppressive impulses are just the misguided actions of governments, and not reflective of the broader public.
I really hope that’s the case; however, if Gatineau’s soccer association is at all representative, my hope may be misguded:
Just days after soccer’s international governing body FIFA allowed Muslim female players to wear headscarves during matches, a nine-year-old Quebec girl was sent off the pitch in Gatineau for wearing a hijab.
Rayane Benatti was told she could not play in this weekend’s tournament at a local park because her headscarf was a safety hazard.
“I’m sad,” Rayane told CTV Ottawa.
The association, ironically, is placing the blame directly on FIFA, claiming that they can’t allow any headware until FIFA approves a design, materials and colour (yes, colour).
This issue has been in the news before (and in the past, local officials threw up their hands and pointed to FIFA), so it’s not like the association has been caught off guard. Their continued intolerance is a clear sign that they just don’t want Rayane or people dressed like her playing soccer with the rest of the kids. It’s bigotry, pure and simple.
(And, by the way, why on earth would a kids soccer league have to conform to every one of FIFA’s rules?)