When my kids were at their old preschool, the school hired a very pleasant teaching assistant. At the end of a year, she suddenly showed up at school in a headscarf. The school was in a quandary. A lot of the parents, especially the mothers of the little girls, were very unhappy to see a young women come to school wrapped up like this, especially as her clothes got more voluminous and shapeless with time (although she never went to the full burqa). The school eventually did nothing. The young woman did her job up to all reasonable standards, and the school could only get in trouble for firing someone for religious expression.
It begins to appear that this was not an anomalous occurrence. Gerry Charlotte Phelps writes that some employers in Canada may be getting the feeling that they’re being set up. Young Muslim women apply for jobs in full Western mode. They continue in full Western mode up until the probation period passes and then, when they can no longer be fired without cause, “go sharia”:
One of my best-friends works in a govt-subsidized daycare centre in northern Montreal. Last year they hired a new worker originally from Lebanon. She was dressed in a western manner albeit conservatively, her head was bare, and she aced the interview very well. Their new employees have a probation period for three months. She was very good with the kids, very friendly with the co-workers, etc. So after three months, she was hired with full-benefits.
All of the sudden, everything changed. She started to wear a abaya (not the veil, she was wearing the full black coat like in Saudi Arabia and Iran) all the time. She stopped chatting with the co-workers like she used to, etc. Once she threw a major public tantrum because at a parents and kids potluck there were not enough hallal sausages or some reason like that.
So my friend talked to her supervisor. She said that the daycare centre has got to be more careful because it seems like a lot of Muslim women are getting hired because they seem well integrated into our society but then they do a switcheroo. Once they have the job for sure their real selves come out.
Read the rest here.
To my mind, if these women want to go veiled to work, that’s their decision. What’s objectionable is the fact that, rather than taking the potential downside risk of their religious conviction (more limited workplace choices), they engage in this duplicitous behavior.
It’s also interesting that these women can engage in this behavior. If full Muslim wear is so important, how are they avoiding that obligation for the hiring and probationary period? From my experience, absent extraordinary circumstances no Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women, no matter the reason, would appear with her head bared, nor would a religious chew dine in style on shrimp, because doing so violates a fundamental precept of their religious belief. (The rabbis, in their great wisdom, have held that it is okay to violate such rules in life and death situations, which enabled many Jews to survive the death camps despite the absence of kosher food.)
This on again/off again clothing policy that some Muslim women are adopting makes it seem as if the abaya is much more of a political statement, either to be removed when expedient or donned to make a point, than a sign of true religious conviction.