Editorial: The Niqab Debate

The woman who fought for her right to wear a niqab was able to do so during her oath ceremony earlier this month.

The battle of the sexes, or perhaps more accurately, the inequality between men and women, continues to be an issue in this country; a country we like to believe is the land of equal opportunity and respect. However, it’s 2015 and women in Canada are still fighting for their rights.

In recent news, the issue of whether or not Muslim women should be allowed to wear a niqab during oath ceremonies has been a hot topic among party leaders this election race.

The niqab – a veil worn by some Muslim woman to cover all of the face except the eyes – is part of what some believe to be a religious must. There is debate in the Muslim community about whether or not it’s a religious necessity, with some arguing it’s a way to oppress women.

Zunera Ishaq, the Ontario woman who won court battles affirming her right to wear her niqab during her oath ceremony, is of a different opinion and said she does believe it’s a part of her religion to wear the niqab. She said no one ever forced her to wear it; it was her choice.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s insensitive words against the niqab and a woman’s right to wear it during ceremonies (which is crucial, as those who wear it believe they must wear it in public at all times) have created a sense of unrest for those in the Muslim community.

In an interview on CBC’s The Current, Zunera said when she moved to Mississauga in 2008, she felt welcomed by the community, but ever since Harper’s comments, she has been faced with racism and bigotry from her peers.

Earlier this year, Zeena Mubarak, on her Muslim Girl blog, said she understands that some women around the world are forced to wear a niqab or hijab, but said the solution isn’t to ban the garment, as the cloth itself is not the problem.

“Harper is doing precisely what he claims the niqab is doing,” she wrote. “He is oppressing women and trying to control how they dress. Forcing a woman to take off a garment is actually just as bad as forcing her to put it on.”

I agree with Mubarak’s point. In Canada, we welcome immigrants into our country and grant them the same liberties and freedoms we all enjoy. One of the fundamental freedoms stated in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the “freedom of conscience and religion”.

By suggesting he would consider bringing in anti-veil legislation, Harper has opened the door to racism. Muslim candidates are now having their campaign signs vandalized with racial slurs.

Even former premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Danny Williams, who led his Progressive Conservative government from 2003-2010, called Harper’s comments about the niqab “borderline racist”. He’s even encouraging those who want to vote for the Conservatives to either vote for someone else, or stay home on Election Day, calling Harper “a lousy prime minister who’s divisive”.

Why now is Harper bringing up the issue of the niqab? Perhaps this is merely a smoke-and-mirrors tactic to take the spotlight away from the issues that could cause him to lose this election, namely the current state of the economy and the way he’s handled First Nations issues. Whatever the reasons may be, Harper does not represent the views of the majority of voters. Canadians, by and large, believe in tolerance, respect and acceptance and should expect nothing less from the leader of the country.

 

Just Posted

Fernie man builds 10-foot sign thanking fire responders

Ken Rawson built his “thank u” sign on Saturday as helicopters responded to fires in the Elk Valley

SAR volunteers thanked after series of emergencies

Incidents ranged from the search for a missing hiker to delivering evacuation alerts in nearby towns

Update: guard built at Coal Creek Road fire near Fernie

Seventeen firefighters and one helicopter working to contain Coal Creek FSR fire, east of Fernie

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

McDermid Creek fire registered at 70ha

A wildfire burning approximately 6 kilometres west of the Morrissey area is… Continue reading

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source

Liberals scrap lottery system for reuniting immigrants with their parents

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

Bear kills off-leash dog in B.C. park

There have been nearly 200 pet or livestock and bear encounters so far this year

Trudeau says he won’t apologize to heckler, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

Prime Minister had accused woman of racism as she shouted about illegal immigration at Quebec rally

Most Read