Tell Premier Ford: Reverse the keffiyeh ban in the Ontario Legislature

Last week, Speaker of the Ontario Legislative Assembly Ted Arnott banned the wearing of keffiyehs in legislative buildings, claiming it is an overt “political statement.” Banning the keffiyeh is discriminatory and racist towards Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.

Not only does the keffiyeh ban violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms but it is a form of anti-Palestinian racism. By banning the keffiyeh, the Ontario Legislature is suppressing and censoring Palestinians and their allies. The Ontario Legislative Assembly MUST reverse this racist ban immediately.

Use the fields below to send an email to Premier Doug Ford, the Ontario Opposition Leaders, Speaker Ted Arnott, other political leaders and your local MPP. Palestinians and their allies have a right to express themselves without being policed or censored.

More Info

Earlier this month, the Ontario Legislative Assembly (OLA) implemented a ban on Palestinian keffiyehs, preventing Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs), staff, and guests from wearing them in legislative buildings.

The OLA Speaker, Ted Arnott, made the decision to ban the keffiyeh, saying that the scarf makes an “overt political statement” and that it violates the "standard practice of decorum."

The keffiyeh, worn across the Middle East, is particularly important to Palestinians as a symbol of history and resistance against Israeli occupation and colonialism. CJPME believes that the ban is unfair and discriminatory, represents an attempt to silence Palestinian culture, and is a clear example of anti-Palestinian racism. It is particularly inappropriate given the current context in which many people are wearing keffiyehs to show solidarity with Palestinians facing Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

There has been significant political opposition to the ban, with Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles, Liberal leader Bonnie Crombie, Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, and Independent MPP Sarah Jama, speaking out against the decision and urging it to be reversed. Even Premier Doug Ford said he does not support the decision “as it needlessly divides the people of our province,” and called on the speaker to “reverse his decision immediately."

Speaker Arnott has said that he would reverse the keffiyeh ban if that was the will of the legislature. However, on Thursday, Marit Stiles attempted to pass a unanimous consent motion in support of the keffiyeh. Outrageously, some members of the Ford government expressed opposition to the motion and blocked it from passing.

In fact, several members of the government have expressed support for the ban, and some pro-Israel groups are now calling for a ban on keffiyehs to be introduced in the federal Parliament and all other provincial legislatures. Clearly, some of Israel’s supporters see this ban as an important precedent, emboldening them to attack the keffiyeh and Palestinian symbols more broadly. This is a hateful and growing movement to censor Palestinians and their allies, and it must be stopped.

The future of this racist ban now lies in the hands of the Ford government. If Speaker Arnott won’t retract his harmful decision on his own will, then Premier Ford can direct his caucus to support a unanimous consent motion. Please join us in calling on Premier Ford, Speaker Arnott, and other political leaders, to reverse the keffiyeh ban immediately!