Yes to religious freedom – News on hijab and anti discrimination

I found two interesting articles this morning regarding the hijab in an updated anti discrimination manual, and the hijab in airports/border security..

From TheStar.com: The federal government is putting border officials at Pearson airport through sensitivity training so they can more appropriately deal with Arab and Muslim passengers.

The Canada Border Services Agency is contracting out training sessions for up to 500 of its border services officers, stressing the need for those who screen passengers to “effectively perform their enforcement responsibilities in a respectful manner” at Canada’s busiest hub.

Groups representing Canadian Arabs and Muslims are welcoming the sensitivity courses, which will be carried out between September and March 31, 2009, as necessary and overdue.

“After 9/11 we became all potential terrorists without doubt, and we still have some examples of people being picked up from the line because they wear long beards or the hijab,” said Mohamed Boudjenane, executive director of the Canadian Arab Federation. “It still happens on a regular basis.” More here.

Then there is USAToday.com informing us that a federal agency last week released an updated compliance manual on religious discrimination in the workplace.

The new manual provides safeguards for workers who request time off for religious observances, and protects workers whose faith requires they wear specific religious garments, such as a hijab, a head covering worn by some Muslim women.

Muslims have faced the sharpest increase in workplace discrimination of any major religious in recent years. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of discrimination charges filed by Muslims more than doubled, from 398 to 907. That figure peaked at 1,155 in 2002, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. More here.

Are we making any progress? Or is it something that should have been done way earlier?

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One thought on “Yes to religious freedom – News on hijab and anti discrimination

  1. raquelevita says:

    1) I am quite glad that the folks at Pearson are getting some further training. I’ll leave it at that, ahem, for now.

    2) People might want to check out the actual materials associated with the new guidelines set out by the US Commission. There are a number of cases where they illustrate examples of what is religious discrimination – many of them are specifically about Muslims. It’s an admirable move on the part of a government often targeted for being “anti-Muslim”. Interestingly, the regulations only cover businesses with 15 employees or more. It seems, however, that the smaller the business the easier it would be to unjustly fire someone (fewer people to report to, more of a small community feeling probably); and the more difficult it would be to exist in a situation where there is hostility due to religious beliefs and practices.

    The new EEOC compliance manual: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/religion.html

    The accompanying Q&A “fact sheet”: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/qanda_religion.html

    And accompanying “best practices booklet”: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/best_practices_religion.html

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