Canadian Council of Muslim Women pen letter of support for Elghawaby amid calls for resignation

By Michael Talbot and The Canadian Press

The Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW) has written a public letter of support for Amira Elghawaby amid renewed calls for her to step down as Canada’s representative on combating Islamophobia.

Québec politicians are demanding Elghawaby resign for comments she made in a 2019 op-ed where she criticized the province’s Bill 21, which bans certain public-sector employees, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols on the job.

In the op-ed piece, Elghawaby wrote that “the majority of Québecers appear to be swayed by anti-Muslim sentiment, holding negative views of Islam if they support Bill 21.”

She apologized for the comments on Wednesday before meeting with Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, who was unmoved by her contrition.

The CCMW says the continued calls for resignation are more evidence of discrimination against Muslim women.

“The calls for her resignation since she has been appointed only further highlight how important this role is and how Islamophobia continues to target Muslim women across the country,” the organization wrote.

“It is not lost on us that Ms. Elghawaby happens to be a Muslim woman in hijab because her reality is our reality.”

“As a Muslim women’s organization, we are proud to stand with Ms. Elghawaby in her new role and are confident that she will fulfill her role competently and fairly.”

In her apology, Elghawaby said: “As a member of Canada’s Muslim community, we know what it’s like to be stereotyped. We know what it’s like for people to have biases, and I understand the words and the way that I have said them have hurt people in Quebec.”

“I have been listening very carefully. I have heard you, and I know what you are feeling. And I am sorry.”

Despite those words, Blanchet said he still wanted her to resign.

“Because of what she said and thought before, it does not qualify her for being this bridge between not only Quebec but anybody who is not Muslim because there are tensions on these issues and because there have been fingers pointed at Quebec and at Bill 21, and there’s been an association between Bill 21 and Islamophobia.

“All of these things put together, whatever her personal qualities might be, disqualify her for the function.”

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