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30 June 2012


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The following appeared in The Ottawa Citizen: link. She was from the Naval Reserves and it sounds like she was Class B for the last number of years (i.e., working full-time for the CF). She deployed once to Israel and the Occupied Territories and was preparing to deploy in support of the United Nations Mission in Sudan when diagnosed. I'm not seeing anything to indicate that she was a medical officer.

As to the issue of the hijab, it seems to me that it depends very much on the attitudes one carries with it:

“The commanding officer sat me down and said ‘I don’t know what to do with you,’ “ says Dabbagh. “He had called every branch of the forces and no one had a covered Muslim woman in their ranks. I told him, ‘What you see is what you get, sir. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t eat pork, but I can do everything else.’ “

I don't know what the hijab meant to her - whether it correlates with resistance to modernity or simply cultural identification, or what. I do know that when one does BMQ three times - the last time after having medicaled out with a fractured pelvis - one does really want to be in the CF.


A rejection of teleology? Because the science of 2012 ad is different than the science of 700 ad? The political theory in the 'west' is different than that of meideval europe? As to a culture of shoah, does that include Japan - surely that culture posses 'modernity' but is not subject to a 'god' of the shoah.


I agree, Fred. The god of the Shoah is dying for it has demanded the sacrifice of too much blood from the gentile to maintain its authority. But taking its place is the god of the Free Market, a natural force destroying those who stand in its way.

Babak Makkinejad

Japan is not Modern in the sense of Europe and North America.

It is, in fact, a very medieval country.

There are several political theories in the West.

They really are hypotheses on the nature of man.

There is no Culture of Shoah - there is cult of it; a semi-religion.

Babak Makkinejad

I think ll of you are making too much of this.

I understand that certain sects of Orthodox Jews require women to shave their hair afrer marriage and wear wigs for the rest of their (marital) lives.

Many live in New York state and I imagine they are considered by themselves and others as American as the next person.

I am not going to broach the topic of her attire with such a person; it is not my place.

[And I do not wish to pay too much attention on how other people treat their women folk; none of my business.]

Charlie Wilson

Only Muslim garb is suspect, bro.


Optimax, I would say that with the collapse of the USSR the biggest threat to the west is predatory capitalism. If the right wing succeeds in gutting what is left of public education I will truly fear for our society.

Medicine Man

Col.: I'm not sure what response of mine you're objecting to.

If you're referring to my reply to FB Ali, all I regard Wafa Dabbagh as proof of is that a single person can find harmony between religious observance and service in a modern organization. I don't think this is a controversial view, nor do I think it is necessarily contradictory of your observations about larger trends regarding Islamic culture. I don't see what the size of the Canadian military has to do with this at all; unless you are arguing that the US military, with its formidable size, makes no effort to accommodate minority religions.

If you're referring to my reply to JohnH, I am merely pointing out that it is not just cultural conservatives who object to Islamic culture.

If it is neither of these things, I just don't know what you're talking about.

Abu Sinan

Being married to a woman who wears hijab I can state that there are a million different reasons women chose to wear, or not to wear, the hijab. Looking at Saudi Arabia, or any country in the Gulf, when talking about this subject is just a diversion.

Women can, and should, be given the right to choose to wear it or to not. Anyone who tries to put a woman into any particular category based on nothing more than the fact that she covers is going to get it completely wrong. There is only one thing for sure you can tell about a woman who wears hijab, and that she is a Muslim, unless you are in Israel, in which case she might be a Sephardic Jew.



As you know those were British troops that burned Washington, not Canadian. The Brit commander, MajGen Bobby Ross, was killed by American just a couple of weeks later in Baltimore. And BTW his 5000 troops, Brit regulars, were defeated by less than half that number of American militia.


Abu Sinan

"Women can, and should, be given the right to choose to wear it or to not." Now, you know very well that women do not have that choice in Saudi arabia and Yemen. pl



It is true that resistance to women wearing "covered" garb is frequent across the political spectrum.

Canad has forces so small that they are not a serious combat organization. I know they deployed a battalion to
Afghanistan but it must have been a "stretch." It was for the UKs slightly larger forces. Canada's ground forces are designed to support UN peacekeping activities not to fight a significant war. This a not a denigration of Canada's efforts in the World Wars or Korea. They were magnificent. But, Canada is a very different ocuntry now with very different forces. what you have is essentially a police force augmentation. you can't make a comparison from that to what is or is not possible in a big army designed to fight sustained wars overseas. pl

Abu Sinan


They do not have a right to refuse in Yemen and Saudi, and in a practical family sense, they dont have a right to make up their mind in many other areas around the world.

This is no more fair than being banned for wearing it in the West. It is interesting to note that many families to force their women to wear hijab are often not religious at all. It is more of a culture issue than a religious one.

Take a stroll at Tysons Corner Mall, or Pentagon City Call and it wont take long to see this. You get the women, who are probably being forced to wear the hijab, but have tight pants, tight shirts. Modesty? It doesnt rate with these kinds, religion doesnt matter. It is a culture thing.


Abu Sinan

Yes. It is a culture thing and wearing it is a "badge" of culture. pl

FB Ali

Col Lang,

I'm afraid you're a little out of date re the Canadian military. It is undoubtedly a small force, certainly no comparison to the US military. But commencing in 2002 the Canadian military began to switch from a UN-support role to a combat operational one. Canada fielded a battle group of some 2500+ soldiers, comprising infantry, tanks and air support, in Afghanistan, and cleared and held the critical Kandahar province for several years. It lost 158 soldiers in that war.

Canada's military is now no longer a "police force augmentation"; it is a small but versatile combat force.


BF Ali

Ah, yes, you are right. I had forgotten that Harper or someone had changed the mission. Sorry. Yes, they can field a battalion plus task force. Was there more than one battalion of maneuver forces in the task force? pl


FB Ali

If, by "hijab" you mean a head scarf, I have no complaint to make about that. I have dealt so long with Muslims who wanted to completely cover their women that I was not paying attention to that variant. If the woman medical officer was wearing a head scarf, I see no problem with that from the Forces' point of . I am quite sure that our Army would not have a problem. We have Sikhs serving with turbans and beards. pl


"I also insist that a deliberate decision to wear such dress, whether it is called a hijab, burqa or whatever is indicative of a mindset that resists integration into modernity whether that is in"...pl

Let us say to each their own....some people like modernity some people like whatever their traditions are. I go to Duke Univ Hospital for my physicals and once had an Indian tech who had a jewel in her forehead...not unusual these days to see all kinds of tradition ethnic or religious dress. I don't think dress has much to do with the modernity of the mind (particulary with women)judging by the number of ethnically dressed individuals I see in medical and educational fields. Might be harder in some army field positions but then I imagine these women are use to it. I use to wonder how my daughter and her fashionasta peers managed to walk around, much less bend down or even sit down without exposing everything in their short skirts and 4 inch heels.



This is not, so far as I am concerned, a question of a woman's right to dress or undress herself as she wishes. it is a question of cultural symbols and their effect on the over all behavior of those who employ them. pl

Allen Thomson

> If, by "hijab" you mean a head scarf,

Being pathetically ignorant about such matters, I have only just now picked up on the idea that "hijab" can mean more than the head scarf. What is the appropriate word that just means "head scarf?"



As with everything else in the world of Islam, there are endless variations. head scarves, IMO, should not be a n issue. Full face veils should be an issue if such garb interfers with public safet for things like driving or identification. pl

Medicine Man

Col.: This explains something. I thought we were only talking about a head scarf (pictures of Wafa show her with face/hands uncovered). In that context, a woman who's religious mores did not impede her ability to serve, I was happy to second FB Ali's observation.

I certainly wasn't suggesting that a full face veil would also be no problem in a modern institution. I understand your push back better now and apologize for wasting your time.

PS: Thank you for your praise of my country's efforts in WWI/II and Korea. I recognize that we are not the same countries nowadays but I am still proud of those men and the men we have who serve today.

Account Deleted

Thumbs up guys your doing a truly terrific job.

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