Women pack City Hall for Ottawa Hijab Solidarity Day

Ottawa SUN | February 26, 2016

Women from various religions, ethnicities and backgrounds crammed a small room for Ottawa Hijab Solidarity Day on Thursday night.

The event at City Hall attracted more than 100 people, brothers and sisters alike, to talk about the women behind the scarves.

And talk they did, no one more so than Roua Alijed, who silenced the room with a spoken word poem about the role Islamaphobia played in forming her idea of gender.

“I have been fighting for the right to my body since the doctor declared: female,” she said to end her piece to a round of applause.

Between speakers, the event allowed women to speak to community members, organizations and police about their reasons for wearing the hijab.

. . .

The National Council of Canadian Muslims reported 61 anti-muslim incidents across the country in 2015, up from only 12 in 2013.

Ottawa police Sgt. David Zackrias said there have been more reports of Islamaphobia in the city since last year’s election.

“One report we got was a man screaming, ‘Go back to your country’ on OC Transpo and then ripped off a woman’s hijab,” he said. “While we have free speech, we also have to respect the right that everyone has to feel safe.”

Part of supporting these women to come forward and report hate crimes, Zackrias added, is to educate the public about Muslim culture.

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