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That was the way Western University in Ontario commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. (Somehow, the day went by without my being aware of it.) Western posted this image on Instagram:
So, what was wrong with that picture? Several things, some might say, but if you guessed two women in hijabs kissing, you are correct.
A university in Ontario, Canada deleted from a social media page an image of two women dressed in hijabs kissing due to complaints from the local Muslim community.
The “firestorm” of complaints noted the image was “inappropriate” and “disrespectful” due to “religious and spiritual” nature of the hijab.
Iman Abd Alfatah Twakkal said that while the Muslim community “respect[s] the human rights of everyone as protected under Ontario’s human rights bill” and “appreciate[s] that the intent is to promote inclusion,” the Western U. poster was “doing the opposite . . . singling a Muslim religious symbol in that setting is inappropriate.”
I agree with that. A Change.org petition demanding that the image be deleted has 35,000 signatures. It says, among other things, “It should also be made clear that if you are not Muslim, you have no right to tell us what we can and cannot find offensive.” I agree with that, too, although what follows from perceived offensiveness is an entirely different question.
Western University responded in predictable fashion:
Western initially stood firm in keeping the picture up noting it “understood how ‘complex and intersectional…
Intersectional means some groups have more political power than others.
…this topic is’ and that the ‘imagery may be upsetting to some Muslims.’” However, Associate Vice President of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Opiyo Oloya announced on Wednesday the picture had been removed.
That is what Associate Vice Presidents of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion are for. But Muslim activists are unsatisfied and are holding out for an apology. They likely will get it, since universities pretty much always apologize in the end. Score one for Muslims in the intersectionality Olympics.