Why does Ontario, Canada ban keffiyeh?


Ontario has banned the wearing of the keffiyeh in the state's legislature, claiming the scarves are a “political statement.”

The keffiyeh has become a symbol of Palestinian nationalism and resistance to Israeli occupation [GETTY]

The Ontario legislature is sticking by its decision to ban the wearing of keffiyehs indoors, with its spokesman claiming the scarves are a “political statement.”

Speaker Ted Arnott said that after “extensive research” he concluded that wearing keffiyehs in the assembly was a political statement because it upheld a “standard practice of decency” and he therefore “supported the wearing of keffiyehs at the meeting.” based on our long-standing conventions.” “.

Lawmakers have maintained a rule that members cannot use props, signage or accessories to express political views.

Members of the provincial parliament must obtain permission to wear items with political nuances, such as ribbons, on awareness days.

The keffiyeh is a traditional scarf worn in many Arabic cultures, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. However, the Palestinian keffiyeh has been used as a symbol of Palestinian resistance and solidarity against Israeli occupation.

Sales of Palestinian keffiyeh have surged since October 7, buoyed by many calling for a ceasefire in Israel's war on Gaza.

The leader of the opposition party, NDP Leader Marit Stiles, introduced a consent motion that would have allowed the scarf to be worn, but it failed at Queen's Park on Thursday, despite all opposition party leaders expressing their desire to lift the ban.

Stiles also noted that members wore kilts, kirpans, vyshyvankas and chubas during the legislative session, noting that such items were not only culturally significant but were also considered political symbols.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also called on the speaker to reverse the decision, saying it “unnecessarily divides the people of our province.”

Canada has been criticized for its support of Israel since the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip.

Most recently, pro-Palestinian and human rights activists filed a lawsuit against the Canadian government to stop it from allowing companies to export military goods and technology to Israel.