The Right to Self-Determination and the Charter of Values

Michael Wrobel – The Link – Thursday, 06 February 2014 (originally published 04 Feb)

Leila Bdeir
Social justice activist Leila Bdeir speaks to a packed room about the Muslim feminist movement and the proposed Charter of Quebec Values on Jan. 30. Image: Michael Wrobel

Quebec feminists and other progressive forces are currently confronted with an “important philosophical dilemma” in the debate surrounding the wearing of religious symbols, says self-described Muslim feminist and social justice activist Leila Bdeir.

A founding member of the Collective des féministes musulmanes du Québec, blogger and professor of humanities and women’s studies at Vanier College, Bdeir kicked off the Concordia-based Centre for Gender Advocacy’s lecture series on race, gender and political resistance last Thursday by speaking about Islamophobia, media representations of Muslim women and the Parti Québécois government’s proposed Charter of Quebec Values.

“If [Quebec feminists] believe that the right to self-determination constitutes an essential principle for women’s equality, does this right also apply to women whose active self-definition leads to choices outside the Western secular norm?” said Bdeir, explaining the dilemma facing the province’s feminists . . .

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