Different religions call for different attire that is deemed acceptable in their religion, for the Sikh it’s the turban, for a Jew it may be his yamaka, for a Catholic Nun the robes she chooses to wear, and for a Muslimah it is the hijab which is compulsory according to her religion. Here in Canada we pride ourselves in our tolerance and acceptance of one another’s religion, and in the traditions they bring a long with them. Yet should it be a matter blown out of proportion on what an individual chooses to wear on the premise that it’s a safety hazard?
This seemed to be the case when an unsuspecting 14-year-old girl, Safaa Menhem was all of a sudden banned from playing soccer due to the religious headscarf she was wearing. A soccer referee made the call that it was unsafe for her to be on the field with a headscarf on her head. And this decision was later backed up by Gary Roy, the referee development officer with the Alberta Soccer Association who said that this is not an issue of religious discrimination but rather “The reason is, that if a player is wearing a hijab that is tied under the chin and someone decides to grab her by her hijab while she’s running down the field, it could result in a serious injury,”. An adequate explanation yet it was certainly not enough for the coaches and team mates of Safaa as she had been playing for the past five seasons without incident. It’s easy to see that this situation can go back and forth with both sides providing adequate reasoning behind their views. Safety versus religious discrimination; to reach a good resolution the solution may not lie in having the same Neo Nazi methods employed by the French government when they banned religious headgear and sought to severely fine anyone who broke the law, but rather we should look to our own Canadian Armed forces and Police who approved a military issued official religious garments to be part of their uniforms, therefore satisfying both religion and protocol.