Timeline of Events:
- 2021-11-08: CMAJ shows on its cover an image of a young girl wearing a hijab, prompting protests on social media, including criticism from Yasmine Mohammed, author of “UNVEILED: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam”.
- 2021-12-20: CMAJ publishes letter from Montreal pediatrician Sherif Emil, pointing out that the hijab is a symbol of the oppression of women.
- 2021-12-21: NCCM reacts to Emil’s letter with accusations of “Islamophobia.”
- 2021-12-23: CMAJ retracts the letter, removing it from the Journal’s website (contrary to ethics guidelines) and issues a formal apology.
Medical journal retracts letter calling hijab ‘an instrument of oppression’, Adam Marcus, Retraction Watch, 2021-12-24.
A major Canadian medical journal has retracted a letter to the editor by a prominent surgeon in Quebec who expressed reservations about a photo the journal had published of two young girls, one of whom was wearing a hijab.
The photo in question […] ran on the cover of the November 8, 2021 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The image prompted a letter from Sherif Emil, an endowed chair of surgery at Montreal Children’s Hospital of McGill University. Published December 20, the letter voiced concern that the photograph used “an instrument of oppression [the headcovering] as a symbol of diversity and inclusion.” (That’s in the title of the letter, which the journal now acknowledges writing, not Emil.)
The editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) has behaved with abject cowardice by retracting a letter from a Montreal pediatrician criticizing Islamic veils. Why the retraction? Because the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) accused the pediatrician’s letter of so-called “Islamophobia.” This reveals what we have known for years: that this accusatory term serves only as a way to muzzle legitimate criticism of Islam and Islamism. It amounts to an accusation of blasphemy against Islam.
The pediatrician was right to criticize the hijab, especially when imposed on children. By capitulating to the NCCM’s threat and censoring the criticism, the CMAJ has granted an important victory to religious obscurantism.
The veiling of children is a form of child abuse and should be denounced a such.
- Apology from CMAJ’s interim editor-in-chief on behalf of the CMAJ, Kirsten Patrick, CMAJ, 2021-12-23.