Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ban the Burqa? Mais Oui!

A Leger Marketing online poll found that 54% of Canadians surveyed said the government should follow France's lead and ban burqa-wearing in public for safety and transportation reasons.

The web survey was conducted between July 19-22 and answered by 1,526 respondants, reported Laura Payton of the QMI Agency Parliamentary Bureau in today's Ottawa Sun.

Personally, I applaud France and Quebec for what they are doing. Burqas cover the entire body with a mesh over the face.

Still, I would go further and also ban the niqab, which leaves only the eyes uncovered.

It has been said by Muslims and former Muslims alike that the hijab and other coverings are more cultural than religious.

In her "Let's Pull the Veil off our Minds" article on October 14, 2006, Raheel Raza, a Muslim-Canadian who is a public speaker, freelance journalist and activist, wrote: "Contrary to some people's (views), covering the face is not a religious requirement for Muslim women. The injunction in the (Qur'an) is for modesty (for both men and women). Some Muslim women interpret this as covering their head with a scarf or chador."

According to Moroccan sociologist and researcher Fatima Mernissi, the only specific reference to veiling in the Qur'an is Surah 24:31, which tells women to cover their bosoms and ornaments. The passage was later interpreted as meaning that women should hide all body parts except the hands, feet, and possibly the face. However, many argue that this inference is illogical because if the reference was intended for the entire body, there would be no need for the specific mention of the bosom.

Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah, who has been pushing for a ban on burqas, said, "Progressive and liberal Muslims have been leading the fight against this abomination for the last 100 years. This is one of the ugliest aspects of political Islam that has been imported into Canada and other western countries."

When you come to Canada, you must assimiliate to various degrees.

In his "Masking the Truth" article in The Globe and Mail on March 27, 2006, Prof. Mohammad Qadeer wrote: "In pluralist and democratic societies, women have won equality after a long struggle. The niqab is a symbol of self-inflicted inequality and exclusion. Someone may argue that it is a right of an individual to wear what she likes. Yet all rights have limits. Your right to conceal your face infringes others' right to know who you are."

He added: "Even doctrinal Islam has no unanimity about a woman covering her face.... Muslim women living in the West can practise modesty with the hijab or in other suitable ways that allow the face to be visible. Concealment of the face is neither religiously necessary nor socially desirable."

P.S. You can read Payton's Sun article at:

You can also read Raza and Qadeer's articles respectively at: and

1 comment:

  1. I agree, Dahlia, though it is contentious. The burka in particular seems oppressive to women, and we don't know who's inside (for voting, etc.) And it looks dangerous for driving because of its effect on peripheral vision. But most importantly, Canada prides itself on being a country of equal opportunity for men and women. How can Muslim women feel that way if they are hiding behind the burka?

    On the other hand, many would argue that it is their choice to wear either a hijab or burka. Choice is hard to define. If kids are raised in a polygamist cult, and the girls "decide" to marry a 55-year-old guy when they are 13, is that really choice? Or is it an outdated attitude with which they were raised that would be considered child abuse in North America?

    I say, move to Canada, maintain as much of your culture and heritage as you wish, but try to understand that things are done differently here. Isn't that why you wanted to emigrate in the first place?