Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Ontario Legislature Rejects Motion to Allow Keffiyehs, Prompting Protests and Calls for Reversal

Ontario legislature, a motion to lift the ban on wearing keffiyehs—a checkered scarf symbolic of Palestinian solidarity—failed for the second time, amidst protests from the public and calls from political leaders for reconsideration. The decision upheld by some members of the government led to immediate reactions, including protests from individuals in the public galleries who donned the scarves in defiance and were subsequently ejected by legislative security after shouting “free free Palestine.”

The Speaker of the legislature has maintained that keffiyehs are prohibited within both the chamber and the building on the grounds that they are worn to make a political statement. This stance has been met with opposition from the leaders of all political parties, including Premier Doug Ford, who have urged the Speaker to reverse this policy.

Despite the plea for unity, the NDP’s motion for unanimous consent to allow keffiyehs was rejected when several government members voiced their opposition. In a symbolic gesture of protest, Sarah Jama, an independent legislator formerly associated with the NDP, wore a keffiyeh following the unsuccessful motion. As of now, she has not been compelled to remove it.

This ongoing debate in the Ontario legislature highlights the contentious nature of political symbols and the struggle over their acceptance within governmental proceedings. The incident and the legislative responses it has provoked continue to stir significant public and political discourse.

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