Tempest in a niqab

What Naema Ahmed’s expulsion from a French class really shows

Tempest in a Niqab

Photograph by David Boily/ La Presse

UPDATE: The Quebec government tabled a bill Wednesday requiring faces to be in plain view when obtaining or delivering government services.

In August 2009, Naema Ahmed, a pharmacist, mother of three and an observant Muslim living in Montreal, began what is known in French as a cour de francisation—literally, a Frenchifying class—at CEGEP Saint-Laurent in the city’s north end. Apart from being taught the (often confounding) rules of French conjugation, students taking the 33-week, 1,000-hour class learn rhythm, intonation and the practical use of the language: how to shop for groceries and clothes, as well as how to ask for help if they get lost or confused. They also learn the basic workings of Quebec society: that it is French-speaking, secular and considers men and women as equals. In other words, the class teaches integration nearly as much as it does the French language.

At the behest of a school official, Ahmed lifted her niqab—a garment worn by certain observant Muslim women that covers the whole face except the eyes—when registering for the course. When she showed up for class, however, Ahmed refused to remove her veil in the presence of the three male students in attendance in the class of 19. The following 11 weeks, according to a government source, “were one step forward, two steps back”; the teacher often had to halt oral exercises between students to accommodate Ahmed—she didn’t want to speak unveiled to the men of the class. Moreover, the source said, Ahmed at first agreed to remove her niqab for certain exercises, then changed her mind as the classes wore on. “There was no will on her part to compromise,” said the source. (Ahmed was contacted by Maclean’s for this story, but she declined an interview.)

Midway through the second 11-week block of classes, the teacher had had enough. She went to the director of the school, Paul-Émile Bourque. School officials further attempted to have Ahmed remove the veil, which failed; Bourque then called the province’s Immigration Ministry, which runs the classes. (The $4,000-program is entirely subsidized by the Quebec government.) With the consent of Yolande James, Quebec’s minister of immigration, Ahmed was asked to leave the class. It was likely the first time in the program’s 40-year history that a student was turned away on account of a few square centimetres of black cloth.

Ahmed has now become the centrepiece of the ensuing media storm; another school asked her to leave when her name hit the headlines across the country, after she refused yet again to remove her niqab. She has since filed a complaint with Quebec’s human rights tribunal. It is the latest salvo in the continuing debate over so-called “reasonable accommodations,” pitting the Quebec model of integration against the religious convictions of a handful of recent arrivals—and, some say, the rest-of-Canada model that exists outside Quebec’s borders.

Welcoming—and fretting about—immigration has been something of a national pastime since well before the federal government enshrined multiculturalism as its official policy in 1971. From outrage at the spectre of pork-free cabanes à sucre in Quebec to a backlash against religious schools in Ontario and beyond, the country as a whole has experienced certain growing pains as it has come to depend on immigrants to buoy its flagging number of old-stock Canadians.

But what Ahmed’s case shows, more than any intolerance in Quebec, may be how the country remains divided along linguistic lines. “It was a decision that needed to be made,” James told Maclean’s recently, of her decision to become personally involved in the case. “We have a responsibility to defend the individual rights and freedoms, but I also believe that one person’s rights must take into account the individual rights of others.” And the vast majority of Quebecers agreed with the government’s decision to ask Ahmed to leave.

But reaction outside Quebec was swift and righteously outraged. “Quebec…is proving to be unreasonable,” opined the Globe and Mail in an editorial, suggesting that the removal of Ahmed from the class was akin to “empowering state agents to enforce dress codes”—something usually reserved for “Arab and West Asian countries, such as the former Taliban regime.” “Quebec…is fast becoming the most hostile province in Canada for anyone of a minority culture or religion,” wrote Calgary Herald columnist Naomi Lakritz. “In Quebec they don’t like the burka,” wrote CBC business columnist and anchor Amanda Lang on her Twitter account. “[A]nd they’re funding in vitro with tax dollars…anyone see a pattern here?” (Lang, who didn’t respond to requests to elaborate, apparently confused the niqab with the burka, the far more constraining garment worn primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan.)

This sentiment doesn’t necessarily stand up to the facts. In the past 10 years, Quebec has seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of permanent residents living within its borders. Yet, says Université de Montréal professor Marie McAndrew, the province is still seen as intolerant and backward. At the same time, many Quebecers believe the rest of Canada is a cabal of “ghettoized communities where no one speaks to each other.” A recent Environics poll suggests that while Canadians feel discrimination on the whole is on the wane, they make an exception when it comes to English-French relations: each group feels persecuted by the other in roughly the same measures as five years ago, when the poll was last conducted.

Tempest in a Niqab

Photograph by Jacques Boissinot/ CP

Despite this, McAndrew says, “In the end, English and French Canada are about the same. We both practise mixed models of integration. We want diversity but we want to impose certain limits. We are both preoccupied with equality. But people don’t want to hear this.”

Consider the case of Richard Alary. In 1993, the Quebec municipal judge asked a woman on trial in his court to remove her hijab, or head covering. She refused, and the case became an Ahmed-style media circus that saw the judge praised within Quebec and pilloried in the rest of the country. “I was praised for sticking to my guns against the Muslims, but also made out to be some anti-Muslim fanatic,” Alary said recently. “I was advised by my Muslim friends not to travel to certain Muslim countries.”

Seventeen years after the fact, Alary sees certain parallels between his situation and the controversy surrounding CEGEP Saint-Laurent’s decision. “It should never have taken on the proportions that it did. We automatically jump to conclusions, we jump right to the barricades, and finally there’s really nothing there.” The latest dust-up also suggests an evolution within Quebec society; the fuss over Alary was over the hijab, which covers a Muslim woman’s head. Today, as La Presse columnist Michèle Ouimet points out, “the hijab is banal in Montreal.”

And certainly, the issue of religious garb in public institutions isn’t unique to Quebec. Last year, an Ontario Muslim woman resisted removing her veil while testifying in provincial court. The woman, known as N.S. because of a publication ban, was allegedly sexually assaulted by two men of her acquaintance. In the subsequent trial, she claimed that wearing her veil while testifying was a matter of religious freedom. A provincial judge ruled against her, though she won a partial victory on appeal; N.S., Superior Court justice Frank Marrocco ruled, had the right to wear the veil, but would have to face a hearing to determine the sincerity of her beliefs. The Ontario Human Rights Commission sided with N.S.

Though N.S.’s case involves certain accommodations for the particulars of her case, “the broad principles are the same” in the two cases, says David Butt, N.S.’s lawyer. “It’s a question of whether the system, be it justice or education or what have you, can function while accommodating that belief.”

Naema Ahmed’s case will soon head to Quebec’s human rights tribunal. She is reportedly smarting from all the attention. “I have three kids, and now, I am very nervous, and they’re crying, and I have quite a problem,” she told the CBC recently. Because she won’t be learning French anytime soon—and because of her sudden infamy—she doesn’t expect to find work at a pharmacy anytime soon.

“We use cases like this, not for the sake of immigrants, but only to make a point about how our model is better than the other, that the other side is foolish,” says McAndrew. It’s a classic bit of Canadiana: what is otherwise a legitimate discussion about the place of immigrants in our society has devolved into the mutual exchange of old stereotypes.


Tempest in a niqab

  1. Please, please don't refer to the globe and mail and their garbage articles. Its a fact that the majority of Canada agrees with Quebec. One only has to look at the user comments on the Globe and Mail garbage articles and see that users give thumbs up to all the pro quebec comments.

    Within 5 minutes, my comment received 15 positive thumbs ups, and 0 thumbs down. The earlier comments had an average of 700+ thumbs up, and 22 thumbs down.


    • I agree with Johnny82 that the majority of Canadians do not want our rights and freedoms to be interfered with by a few people. Men and women should be in classes together and if someone has a problem with that then no one is forcing them to attend. Going to a language class where the teacher cannot see the student's mouth is ridiculous. While I do applaud the rights of people to dress (within the bounds of decency) whatever they like, common sense has to prevail. This is not a matter of religion either – the Koran does NOT state that women must cover their faces.

      • Never mind the technicalities – ban all overt "in- your- face" displays of Islam from public. Niqabs and Burkas – like Ninja gear and Black Bloc disguises – are threatening and just plain UGLY. They certainly violate any community standards of beauty or good taste!

        There is no good reason to accomodate aggressive (not passive) demands of a totally alien culture. Let the Muslims ASSIMILATE – or live elsewhere in a Believer Society. Unless their agenda is to overpopulate then CONVERT Canada to a Believer Society!

  2. I live in ontario and only speak english and I 100% agree with Quebec. The Head Piece Muslim Women wear has no place in Canada! Hats of the the province of Quebec for having the guts to say it!

  3. Quebec is absolutely welcoming and more than tolerant. The fact that they went so far to try and accomodate this person speaks volumes to that end. They should be applauded and their actions should be emulated by the rest of the country.

    Clearly there are limits to any tolerance no matter how well intended.

    As was stated hundreds of years ago, the first casualties of radical Islam are always Muslims. As long as the real Islam doesn't stand up for itself and consistently preach and reinforce the core values of the religion, none of which have anything to do with women being covered from head to toe in black and in complete subjugation, the radical elements will continue to hijack the faith and cause all others to be repulsed.

    • I can safely say that this is not going to happen. Real Islam is deathly scared of Radical Islam. They would much rather sit back and hope someone else fights the fight for them and stand up and take the blows themselves. All they will actually do is sit at home and say to themselves,'This is not good. Islam is peaceful. We do not do this type of thing." And that is it.

  4. "Empowering state agents to enforce dress codes", like Arab and West Asian countries and the Taliban regime?
    Come on Globe and Mail you sicken me!
    This is Canada! Not a Muslim country!
    There has to be line drawn between what protects the individual freedoms of immigrated Canadians and the Canadians that already live here allowing Canada to be the free nation that it is.
    I would be very surprised to learn that the majority of Canadians are sympathetic to those Muslims who wear the Niqab. It is a symbol of Muslim oppression to women. Its use in our country states that Canadians do not condone it.
    This nation was not founded by extremists and backward religions, if it was no one would want to immigrate here.
    Canadians need to start putting the foot down and protecting our values. Please stop the left wing ninny human tribunal committees sympathizing with every little backward idea from centuries past that certain immigrants tend to bring with them.
    If you don't like it then immigrate somewhere else.
    To my humbled surprise I make the following statement: Thank you Quebec!

  5. As a Quebecer who's been living in Winnipeg for 20 years I say: Way to go, Québec. Enough with that reasonable accomodations nonsense.

  6. The big question is outlined in the second to last paragraph:

    What is Naema Ahmed supposed to do now? How is she supposed to be integrated into society, niqab or no, when she's being denied the opportunity to learn the language and she's going to have a horrible time finding a job? She's got a family to support. It is kind of cruel to force someone to choose between their religious beliefs and being able to support their family.

    She might be Muslim and she might have different beliefs, but she's still just another human trying to do their best for their family and somehow make ends meet.

    • She isn't trying to integrate into Canadian society. If she desires the dress of a repressive POLITICAL society then the woman should relocate back to that country. This dress code has nothing to do with religion, it has all to do with the politics designed to control women.

      These dress codes that hide women's bodies and faces should be outlawed.

      • So, you think she should take herself and her kids back to what is possibly a repressive society, rather than staying here and giving her kids a better opportunity?

        That doesn't strike me as a particularly nice or compassionate thing to say, you know? Personally, I don't care if she's Muslim or no, she's still human.

        • You are ignoring the issue. When you decide to immigrate to another country, you are making a vow to respect the laws and insitutions that exist in that host country. Quebec is standing up and saying "We value women. Women are equal to men." They understand what the detestable "Muslim" garments represent and they do not welcome it. And neither do I, because I do not look at mysogyny and say okay just because it immigrated from another country.

      • Brava. Do you know how many people — the media included — refer to the niqab/burka/hijab as a "religious garment"? All of these so-called representations of religious belief are sprung from political oppression. The burka, et al, did not even exist in Iran (for example) until the Islamc Revolution. Furthermore, the Quran states nothing, nada, zip about a woman covering herself from head to toe in obeisance to Allah. It does not exist. What exists is the psychology of the garment — a woman's body is a shameful, sexually arousing thing to behold and Naema knows this. This is what she has been taught. You cover yourself or risk rape. THAT is the attitudes of the Nations of Islam.

        Ignorance is powerful, terrifying thing.

    • If she isn't happy, she should leave! She can go and be a **pharmacist** somewhere else. You should have seen her video interview. She came here with a political agenda to create problems. It SCREAMS spin doctor.

    • She can hire a private teacher. Then she can learn French on her terms.

      I think in the end it comes down to the fact that her behavior was disrupting the class and hindering not only her own progress, but that of her classmates.

      By hiring her own teacher, she can make sure it's a female and learn the language at her pace.

      • Right. The program is subsidized by Quebec taxpayers. She's learning for free and thumbing her nose at a simple request. I think it shows an incredible amount of entitlement.

      • Excellent point.

    • Seeing ones facial expression goes a long way to understanding a foreign language. They teach us deaf people to read lips as a helpful exercize in understanding a speaker. Hard to do that seeing only eyes!!

    • Is Ahmed really "trying to do [her] best"? If she had wanted to observe the social customs of her native land, why not stay in her native land?

      All these costumes worn by Muslim women have nothing to do with the requirements of Islam. They are cultural artifacts required by social custom in the Middle East-NorthAfrica.

    • Wearing the niquab is not a religious belief. It is not in the Koran that a woman must cover her face. The dress is a cultural choice and one that indicates that women are so sexually enticing to men that men cannot control themselves and it is the woman's job to control men's desire by covering up. It is indicative of a culture that puts men above women in value and is ashamed of women's bodies. It is important that we all learn what other cultures are about – that way no one can accuse you of being intolerant of another's religion. Our culture is about freedom of choice but not being ashamed of our human bodies – including our faces. And hopefully it is about common sense.

    • While I'm still not sure how I feel about this issue, I had read that she was offered online instruction and declined it.

    • What is she supposed to do now? Take the frigging thing off and integrate!!!! She doesn't have to wear it and she knows that. She might learn to speak French or English better and get a job! That's how it works.

    • Oh please. I was born and raised in this country and had to choose between my religion and supporting my family several times a year when I couldn't get time off work for Sundays, Christmas, or any other Catholic holiday. I chose to support my family. If I have to make that choice here in my own native country, why should immigrants have the luxury of using their religion for special treatment in any ways whatsoever?

  7. Left-leaning Canadians that admire Quebec's socialist institutions should take heed. The same collectivism that built those institutions just reared its ugly head (indeed, it shouldn't be surprising that support for privatized healthcare has increased at roughly the same pace as immigration).

    Contrary to the above posters, it does bother me when I hear about these kinds of things, but it doesn't surprise me. Some in the province have tried to extinguish the culture of Montreal anglos for decades. The irony is that if Quebec focused on building a world class economy, instead of frightening away anglos/immigrants (which Quebec desperately needs, now that people there stopped getting married and having kids) and embedding itself in a perpetual constitutional crisis, people might have an economic reason to learn to speak French with a proper jouale.

    Any culture worth saving saves itself.

    • Quebecois have not stopped marrying or having children. They have the second highest birth rate aside from Aboriginals (which have the highest rate of fetal alcohol syndrome, but that's another story). Also, I'm not sure what to make of comments like these. Is the punishment for having fewer children the constant rolling back and cutting down of intrinsic Canadian values? Why don't people talk about one of the reasons third world countries are third world, that being the absence of birth control? A smaller human population is better for everyone but corporations.

      • 1. Quebec's birth rate has increased only recently, and is still barely ahead of the Canadian average (which is below replacement level).
        2. If you have social services like universal healthcare and pensions that require young people to pay into them, then yes, you need to have young people. There are two routes to getting there – making babies, and immigration.
        3. The notion that smaller populations are better is only true in the developing world, where wealth is largely agrarian and resources are limited. I sound like a corporate mission statement here, but people are a resource, not a cost. When you have advanced market institutions, scarcity is not a long-term problem. When a resource becomes scarce, its price increases and people turn to alternatives. Eventually people develop synthetic alternatives. Malthus has been consistently wrong for 300 years because he discounted the possibility of technological development. The more productive people you have, innovating, manufacturing and working, the greater the economies of scale, the greater the division of labour, and the greater the intellectual output of solutions to resource shortages.

      • "Smaller" (too generalized) human population isn't necessarily "better for everyone but corporations", smaller populations must grow to maintain relative economic growth. Indeed larger populations appear to foster further innovation, technology. Economics, the advancement of directly correlates to larger and expanding populations. The problem however is, how to maintain relative growth, is it through immigration or should the state foster incentives for the populace to have children? Clearly the west has chosen the former unfortunately.

    • "Some in the province have tried to extinguish the culture of Montreal anglos for decades." Are you kiddimg me? Montreal's anglos are very well treated. They have all the instituations they want and besides a few that panicked after the first election of the Parti Quebecois, most anglo-quebecers with a bit of intellectual honesty will tell you how they love Quebec and wouln't move for all the gold in the world. You're obviously one of those 'outsiders" with a very narrow view of Quebec situation in terms of saving its culture. As you said yourself; "Any culture worth saving saves itself". Hence, the anglos-quebecer did survived pretty well thank you. So did french quebecer, but surprisingly, you seem to be against them when they try. As for the niqab, this woman refused to cooperate with her male classmate, turn her back to them or asked them to turn their back while she was given her oral presentation and was basically the worst sexist/racist individual of the whole class, not the victim she's trying to be. As far as I'm concerned, to kick her out was the right decision.

  8. lccyh: What is Naema Ahmed supposed to do now? How is she supposed to be integrated into society, niqab or no, when she's being denied the opportunity to learn the language and she's going to have a horrible time finding a job?
    She can embrace civilization and abandon savagery.

    Gaunilon: I wish the article had answered this question – so far I do not understand why the teacher had any reason to tell Ahmed to uncover her face in class.
    Re-read the article. She refused to uncover her face in the presence of males – that is why the Quebec government has every reason to take a stance against this primitive thinking.

    • If she doesn't want to show her face in front of mails, she doesn't have too.

      • Why should the male students in the class accommodate one woman? They have a right to be there too? And Mrs. Ahmed demanded to have them leave the classroom. For one woman, you are infringing on the rights of the male students in the class? Bottom line, had Ahmed been a man and demanded that three of the female students in the class leave the room, this would be a case of discrimination and you'd have the feminist groups in uproar. How is it when a woman demands that three male students leave the classroom?

        Canadian values set aside, Ahmed's demands were unreasonable and disruptive to the class. Out of 19 students, you have one student dictating how others should behave? The problem with these "reasonable accommodations" is them a hand and they'll take your entire arm. In Ahmed's case she was being unreasonable. In private, I would care if she worships the devil, but as part of a society, you still need to abide by society's values. Why did Mrs. Ahmed immigrate to Canada? She cannot move here for all its benefits but refuse the inconvenience. No society is perfect, and if she finds our values intolerable, well maybe Canada is not for her or her children. She should find a place that would be more in line with her values.

        My parents immigrated with my family in the 80s and I can tell you, Quebec has come a long way. Obviously they wanted a better life for their children, so they immigrated to a land where they did not know the language or the culture for the sake of their children. My parents have always taught us is, you go into a church, you respect the Jesus, you go into a mosque, you respect Mohamed. What you do in your own personal life, it's your business, but don't expect the mass to accommodate you.

        On another note, I've taught English as a foreign language in Japan and I can tell you, body language, facial expressions and articulation of the lips are very important in the teaching process. It is hard enough to teach a class of 10 students, I cannot imagine teaching someone with a mask on. Psychologically, it would have been disruptive to the dynamics of the class. I think Mrs. Ahmed's teachers were very tolerant. I would have kicked her out of the classroom the moment she entered the room.

  9. The Globe and the twits of Toronto essentially stand alone in sanctimony.

    The RoC sides with Quebec on this entirely.

    • I hope you don't think all Torontonians are twits, Freddy. 2.5 Million of us, we don't all think and believe the same things.

    • Thanks Freddy. As I like to say we have a lot more in common than some likes to think, trying to devide us.

  10. What eludes my understanding of this situation is why was it required for her to remove her niqab?
    It doesn't seem like wearing a veil should be a big issue in class… We're not talking about safety precautions or anything like that here.

    I'm french canadian and I think it's absolutely ridiculous to force things like this unto others. We're not talking about something that offends others or causes harm to others, she's wearing her veil, let her be.

    • Oliver, she was being disruptive in class by insisting on the males being shunted aside in her presence. If she would have just co-operated and shut her trap about the males, this thing may never have exploded like it did and she could still be in class learning french.

      • But it's okay to be sexist towards men, silly. I just wonder how it would have all gone down had a man stood up and demanded all women avert their gaze from his person…..

        • He would have been shown the door as well, silly.

          • Immediately.

    • here is a thought…if she did not want to face her classmates, especially the males, why did she not join the class by telephone? Then she would not have to show here face at all!! That is the same as covering the face and talking face-to-face, no?! We depend on vocal AND facial expression in a face-to-face conversation here on the free world. Otherwise, we have the telephone!!

      • Facial expression isn't need in a classroom.. really? As long as you can talk, its good enough.

        • No it's not. Facial expressions and body language are critical elements of human communication. That obvious fact aside, by allowing her attitude towards males to be tolerated we are doing much more than tolerating Islam, were placing above.

    • I appreciate you Oliver. It is not harmful to anyone just like Nuns are wearing the scarf. Islam is spreading among Non-Muslims very fast whenever any country is taking action against Islam. Everyone is trying to find the TRUTH about Niqab, about Islam. Islam teaches us peace & brotherhood to live life happily. Terrorism is no where in Islam. Islam is growing & growing pain has to feel by every Muslim. Please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/bel… for more info. God bless you Oliver. Thanks

      • "Islam teaches us peace & brotherhood to live life happily. Terrorism is no where in Islam" – Insane
        What a load of crap!!! Insane for sure

        • Arrogant youths.

      • I'm not trying to be beligerent here, I'm really not.

        "Terrorism is no where in Islam. Islam is growing & growing pain has to feel by every Muslim."


        "Islam is spreading among Non-Muslims very fast whenever any country is taking action against Islam"

        Seems like a threat to me. Please feel free to clarify.

      • Seriously? "terrorism is nowhere in Islam."?? How can you say that? I'd love to learn how that works.

  11. I am from the rest of Canada (alberta) and I and everyone else I've talked to believes that Quebec acted correctly

  12. As a Quebecer who's been living in Winnipeg for 20 years I say: Way to go, Québec. Enough with that reasonable accomodations nonsense.

  13. *mais (as in corn…. i can't do the accents, i'm not that great with keyboard shortcuts.)

  14. I have been talking to some of my neighbours, all muslims. they all say they care two hoots what Canadians think of them. They say they don't care what other people think of them. If there is a problem, it is not theirs but everyone elses'. This is the way they live and this is the way they are going to go on. When I tried to explain the views expressed in the media, they said it doesn't matter; they know what is right and wrong as it is written. Those who don't want to follow can go jump. When I told them this attitude is one of the biggest problems, they said, anyone wanting to argue can step forward and they would 'deal with it'. I think the fact that this is CANADA and NOT the Middle East needs to be explained to them with more clarity. Not doing so now WILL lead to MAJOR issues in the not-so-distant future!! Can the GOVERNMENT understand this!?

    • You need to understand that CANADA is a free country.

    • The effects of the American/Canadian culture is that of the "Bermuda Triangle's". Morals,purity and modesty are destroyed within minutes or even seconds. The clothing got shorter and smaller ever since the colonization of these lands.

  15. and another thing..the garb seems mysterious maybe even sexy to their hubbys…and another thing maybe it is a case of jealousy and control…these woman could be beautiful underneath the cloth

    • You're so deluded. You are right it is about sex — that a woman who does not cover herself is subject to rape, full stop. That is why it is the women who are prosecuted in sexual assault cases and NOT the man. I bet it's real sexy to a Somali Muslim man to behold his wife's scarred vulva, knotted and twisted where there used to be a clitoris and labia. Get a goddamn clue.

      • know what ? this article is not about rape but can see where your mind is at…. it is about a piece of cloth covering a face which is uncommon in this land and always will be! idiot

  16. "fight for them and stand up and take the blows themselves" … typo… that should be…"fight for them THAN stand up and take the blows themselves".

  17. It seems to be the crucial question is this: was there some pressing need for the class to be conducted with uncovered faces?

    If the answer is "yes" then asking the student to comply or leave is reasonable. If the answer is "no" then clearly it's none of the teacher's business what students want to wear on their faces.

    I wish the article had answered this question – so far I do not understand why the teacher had any reason to tell Ahmed to uncover her face in class.

    • You miss the point!
      This is Canada, no one should have their faces covered period! Canadians don't hide behind things unless their intentions are criminal!
      I could just imagine walking around downtown Vancouver with in a black dress with my face covered. Before being arrested, I would be verbally abused and hopefully pelted with plastic bottles and cans because in Canadian society I would be linked to some nut ball protesting group with vandalism in mind.
      This is 21st century Canada, if you want to immigrate to Canada embrace our values, lifestyle and beliefs. Do not come here and pressure us to live yours! We will respect yours but only to a certain point before it conflicts with what made our country great.

      • Canadians are free to dress however the hell we want, bub. If I ever see you or anyone else pelting a girl, Muslim or otherwise, with either verbal abuse or plastic bottles you're also going to find out to your detriment just how enraged a Canadian can get.

        • Try wearing a balacalva into a bank and see how far that argument takes you. Or try getting served at a restaurant while naked.

    • The teacher, i think in one of the CBC articles, mentioned the need to, among other things:
      -hear her properly ( the cloth can muffle the sounds)
      -be able to correct improper pronunciation (in how they shape their mouth/throat, e.g. bucheron, revendication, mas)
      -pick up on whether she's confused by something (most people express this non-verbally)
      -make sure it's actually her attending.

      • This has to do with hearing and not really seeing. Most of us don't have a voice sound-alike. Also, maybe this is more dealing with accusing the girl than any other reason. Niqab is just like wearing a thinner version of a scarf on your face in Winter. Maybe those should be banned also as there is no religious reason for them and they muffle more than a Niqab.

      • Also all this student has to do is lift the veil for the teacher so that her identity is witnessed and she is marked present. When that is all that can solve those issues and for the student to speak louder, I don't see why there is even an issue.

    • What PokerFace said, and also, in some of the stories I read, it was mentioned that she gave oral presentations with her back to the class (or from the back of the class, I think I read both versions), and also that she didn't want to do one-on-one exercises with the other students, only with the teacher.

      And she also wanted assurances that her teacher would always be a woman.

    • Was wondering the same thing. Even if some people aren't interested in having this piece of information available whilst they decide if the student was "right or wrong", surely there are at least a few people who want that information, and I have to wonder why it wasn't included in the original article.

      • I've taken language classes and it is imperative that the teacher be able to see your mouth so that any pronunciation issues that can be corrected by reshaping your slips occurrs. It's a shame that the article didn't cover it because to me it's a salient — and obvious — issue.

        • Your theory is extremely plausible, and I'd even wager that it did have a lot to do with this story.

          However, since the story does not explicitly say that that is indeed the case, there is an element of doubt. Even if it seems obvious to some (or even many) people I can't see any reason why that information would be excluded, well, other than this way facilitates some disagreements on the comment board.

        • The Public Service Commission gets a language profile on public servants by conducting a telephone interview in the target language. No lip reading there.

          • Yes, but that's an assessment, not a course. If the assessment failed, I'm sure they'd take classes face to face.

          • They don't do classes. The Canada School does those, and they aren't all face to face.

            Many post-secondary institutions offer at least some of their language courses online. I took French courses at SFU this way.

  18. It's clear that outside of Quebec and Alberta, we are a very weak culture, prepared to move over and get out of the way of those who will eventually be numerous enough to impose their stone age values on the rest of us. And please stop with the holier than though pious lefty looking glass, which has ripped the balls from many a man.

  19. I heard a new twist to this yesterday. A friend of mine lives in a mostly Moslem high rise building where many women are totally veiled. He was spoken to by the husband of one woman and asked to, "Please respect my wife by not entering the elevator when she is in it and averting your eyes when you see her to avoid looking at her." My friend seemed acquiescent to his wishes and when I questioned him, he said that he's lived in Moslem communities before and he believes that if he does not comply, the wife will be beaten by the husband as if it were her fault somehow. I had no strong feelings about the veil before this, but the story made me go ballistic. I don't know if it's true, but I now have the feeling that the veil is truly odious – not only because of the subjugation of the woman, but also because of this insult to all men – are we all such animals that we cannot be trusted to even look at another human being? When I was a teen I asked a teacher if I could go look at something and he said, "Looks are free, son, a cat can look at a king!" How can the religious belief of that man dictate the behaviour of my friend? This cannot be allowed to happen in Canada, let's stop it now before it takes root. The Hijab seems inoffensive, but I now think the veil should be banned in Canada.

    • It is true. I think your life might change by reading "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It changed mine.

      Ignorance and anthropocentrocism is what allows our society to bend to the demands of others. This is why I hope Canadians start educating themselves about the truth of Islam.

    • Your chickenshit friend should have told bullyboy where to go when told to out of the elevator when his bagged wife is in it..

    • A edited version of deleted comment

      Your chickens**t friend should have told bullyboy where to go when told to stay out of the elevator if his bagged wife was in it.

      • Well, actually, in more polite language, that is in essence what I said to him. However, he is a gay man living in poverty in a predominantly Muslim community, and I can see that he would feel very intimidated by this situation. He already has some harridan on his floor who loudly "ululates" and waggles her fingers at him whenever she passes him in the hall.

        • The behaviour of the ululating woman amounts to harrassment. You can bet, though, that she'd scream loudly about anyone who behaved in a similar fashion because of her Muslim beliefs. That's what really irks me – if they don't like our society, why did they come here? Multiculturalism is fine up to a point – that point being when they try to force their beliefs on the rest of us.

          • Because they want our here to become their here. It's all in the Quran; they're simply doing their duty, by force or colonization.

          • Why did you "come here"? This is a mixed society if you don't like it, YOU LEAVE!

        • Well him being gay throws a different light on this. For him, best not to rock the boat, being gay could mean his life is endangered considering his neighbours are not exactly tolerant of gays. He should move.

    • This is incorrect information about a married couple's discipline. A man is not allowed to beat his wife for this reason. Beating is only allowed as last resort when they are the ones doing something wrong, which also has it's own laws behind it. Beating is not to break any skin, so it is done lightly. However this comes after other means of advicing to correct their behavior,which will ultimately be beneficial for her and her family. Women also have their many rights,but I will not go into details. Some can be found here http://islamqa.com/en/ref/40405/treat%20women
      He does have the right to ask you to avoid being in the same elevator as her, as that is a cause of relationships being started. He has the right to protect his wife from anything harmful coming to her as does any husband. There are also very creepy people that love to stare and are awkward to anyone. Looking with pleasure is not the same as just glancing, That's why there are so much problems.Many do not realize that it's a few glances here or there and a few conversations is what make wives and husbands become adulterers. This logic doesn't seem to apply to a "normal Westerner" because these types of morals have become very scarce. Everywhere you look there's a billboard and most contain an underwear model or a provocatively dressed woman.
      Clearly this person was confused about certain duties he has towards his wife,but because we are so brainwashed to hate Muslims we jump to prejudiced assumptions. He used examples of other people to judge why his wife should be beaten instead of bringing a claim from the Quran or Sunnah. That is a mistake that no one should make as no one is allowed to make up a rule without proof otherwise that is injustice. I do not blame him,though,because living and especially being Born in countries not practicing Shari'ah laws will leave many Muslims in a state of confusion and ignorance of Islam's true teachings. It may seem that Muslims are supposed to be protected from sinning because we believe our religion is the truth but we are merely humans we are made to err just like any non-Muslim. We have the ability to repent in order to correct ourselves for our own benefit in this life and in the hereafter.

  20. Women like Naema Ahmed need a support group. They must still be fearful of consequences if they persist in wearing this garment. What would happen to her at home (here in Canada) if she removed it in class and the males of her household found out? The men need some kind of workshop on what Canada values as well.

    The indoctrination of these women must have been painful.

  21. The covering of women has no religious basis and therefore she SHOULD have no recourse to involve any Human Rights Commission. Her actions in the classroom displayed HER intolerance of our rules. Stop with the drivel on religious rights.
    The cover is a symbol of oppression and exhudes an air of subservancy. In Canada and other Countries we have worked tirelessly to treat women as equals. In this culture women are used in child bearing, household duties and to provide sex when demanded. Imagine being a woman and you are not authorized to leave the house without being escorted by a man. Imagine not being valued enough to have an education. Imagine that your life can be ended at anytime by your male owner if he so choses to.
    Canadians do not hide our faces unless the windchill dictates it.
    By following this cultural oppression you are supporting the subservancy of women, something women in our country have worked so hard to reverse.

    • Why is Mary covered for ? Mother Theresa?

  22. Did the author not read the G&M comment section? The vast majority of the commenters as well as the voters were absolutely in FAVOUR of Quebec.

    • The author lives in a fantasy land… nothing you can do about it!

  23. …this garb is not hurting family friends and others….so let the lady dress as she luvs to dress …it is between her and her hubby or what ever they believe in…this situation seems like a case of xenophobia or possibly a situation where the status quo is being challenged…this is good…and no one can impose ones will whatever it may be encased with…unless one permits it to happen…so relax….

  24. The various articles provide only a snapshot of the facts. Thus, drawing conclusions based on periodicals and newspapers results in a fallacy. However, our Country was founded by immigrants. More specifically, those fleeing Europe (or forced out) due to persecution, starvation, over-population etc.. It would seem to me that it would be logical to encourage this tradition. After all, 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. generations Canadians aren't adding more to our population. Consequently, these cases must be examined, studied and judge based on our principles of justice – rights of appeal are a cornerstone of that system. The simple fact of the matter is that we need more people here. Take a look at the demographics of the low paying service jobs. I'm willing to bet my paycheque that most of them are women and identify with what we would label a minority culture.
    Do I personally agree with an individual wearing a full veil? Of course not!! I find it an abomination! I see it as a way of controlling a women's body which is in itself political. Do I really care if someone in my country wears a full veil? No! Freedom BABY! If that's what you want and identify with – then so be it! Someone wearing a full veil won't stop me from buying my meds from them :D
    Also… all those many tedious hours of doing, what seems forgotten by most, critical reading and writing, I did learn that the full veil is a religious symbol. So even though my Western education teaches me that this attire is political, someone else may not perceive it as such After a generation or two, I am sure her descendants will come to appreciate our wonderful materialist culture :) Personally, I think they might enjoy Capitalism. Quite frankly, all this hoopla over a bit of clothing, tells me that there's probably a market in designer veils :) The geek in me thinks "hrm….. all that clothing makes it easy to wire in wearable computing … hrm…"

  25. I think she is just being an attention seeker . Women in Islamic countries are not that fanatic as she is behaving in Quebec. Look at the attention she is getting . I am a Muslim too , I believe forcing her to remove her veil is not a wrong thing but don’t you think that if Canada tries to emulate Saudi Arabia in forcing people to dress like they do , there will not be a big difference between The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Canada?
    How would Canadians be able to glorify their tolerance and superior wit and wisdom? If you go tit for tat with any country in the world and compete with them in their bad values, it would not be a good Idea, needless to say that it would be unwise.And a looser mentality . I can smell of something else here, French Xenophobia is so ingrained in the minds of some people that they are asking questions like, “we have the superior race and culture and why would any one not follow and imitate us religiously? lack of understanding is replaced by fear. Now those who wear veil or neqab just as strongly believe in the superiority of their values. Is it the court that is going to decide who is right?
    are all those who are jumping up and down on this issue, applauding the decision(myself included) driven by some higher values or just driven by some kind of hatred, prejudice ,bias or Anne Coulter like mindset.
    I think I agree with some people that there is no shortage of countries where Neqab is not only acceptable but desirable and if I was a woman so driven by my faith and so ostentatious about my real or perceived chastity . I would choose to live in a different country , even if I got paid less.

    • You need to minize your horizons a bit. Quebec is saying when you enter a public building where you are required to be identified, you need to lift your niqab. I don't see anything wrong with that ; I can't tell one niqab from the next and neither can anyone. As for the language/integration class, they're saying accomodation has a breaking point. No one is suggesting that dress code become leglislated. I also don't see any mention yet of fines or imprisonment, etc. for disobeying. I think you would be denied service, and rightly so.

      • Next thing some twit will be asking to wear full veil for picture ID's like passports and drivers licenses.

        • Some have. Unsuccessfully so far (as far as I know, anyway).

          Then there's the voting kaffuffle from the last election. How is someone supposed to validate an identity if the face is covered? Barring the requirement to fingerprint &/or datachip all citizens (like THAT would go over well!)

    • Your understanding comes from a different history and purpose for covering one's face. You would also be treated very differently by her, thus never feel my fear. Now please consider my North American history. First, the niqab is not illegal but neither is wearing a white sheet and pointed cap. Both however advertise the same thing, a disdain for a segment of our citizens. We have not heard how the men who she refused to interact with felt. I bet they felt horribly discriminated against by her. The Klu Klux Klan represented a horrible aspect of our history that we hope is over. Naema likely isn't violent but her behaviour and dress is similar. Should her treatment of black men be tolerated because she shuns white men too? Could we trust a white capped pharmacist? Did Judge Richard Alary not discover that many Muslims believe it a religious duty to slay those who question their culture? Is it prudent for Judge Alary to accept medication from a niqab covered person? If not, then Naema's unemployment is justified here. Is wearing that black cloth a peaceful expression if it attracts thousands of mercenaries to act murderously her behalf? I have no solid answers to these questions but that only raises the threat and panic even higher. What hope for equality do I have if the male students do not demand Naema's prosecution in the Human Rights Commission?

  26. Islam is spreading among Non-Muslims very fast whenever any country is taking action against Islam. Everyone is trying to find the truth about Niqab. Islam teaches us peace & brotherhood to live life happily. Terrorism is no where in Islam. Islam is growing & growing pain has to feel by every Muslim. Please visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/bel… for more info.

    • Oh no, people choosing a religion they weren't born into! What's next, people of different cultures marrying?

  27. Outside of Arab countries, the wearing of niqabs, burkas and hijabs is just a symbol of defiance and has nothing to do with religion or modesty. The garb states that " I am a MUSLIM " , I am superior to you, fear me, I am deliberately inviting confrontation so I could sue for discrimination and make a lot of money, I want to stick out in public and stick it to everyone that is not muslim, I know that the majority of Canadians do not approve of my garb—so I want to irritate them, infuriate them and cause discord because I AM MUSLIM and I AM SPECIAL and BETTER than the INFIDEL ! ! SO kiss my BUTT ! ! It is time the gov't passed a law to outlaw ALL religious clothing from public view—Catholic, protestant, jewish, sikh, muslim, buddhist etc. Religion is just a personal idiosyncrasy and should be kept personal and banned from public view.

    • They should not be irritating the infidels.

    • Have to agree with your take on this. Niqab & Bhurkas aren't part of the mUslim religion – they are signs of an opressed woman whose male family members want her to wear it, or she's trying to draw attention to herslef.

    • A woman that has to spend 2-3 hours putting a whole bunch of chemicals on her face everyday and other possibly harmful accessories to "look good" is oppressed. I don't know how that was overlooked. Also what about those that anorexic,bleaching their skin, shredding their clothes, putting poison into their faces, spending hundreds of dollars on beauty treatment for men that will not promise her a "diamond ring" ? That's slavery to man,again. I guess that's what that country will always be about.

  28. Anyone with a little common sense can see very well she is manipulating the system and has a political agenda that is ill willed. Canada has to exercise far greater standards with regards to it's immigration system. It's later than you think. Look at Europe!!!

    • Agreed! Some good videos on You Tube on how Muslims seem to have an overly inflated sense of entitlement & self-importance. Not to mention – they like protest marches. Reminds me of the late '60s hippies!

      • "Muslims seem to have an overly inflated sense of entitlement & self-importance." kind of like Candians eh?

  29. The great majority of Canadians have no issue with Religious Islam, but have grave concerns with Political Islam with its dream of a world Caliphate, death to all Infidels (anyone not Muslim) and violent behaviour through terrorism, beheadings and suicide bombings. We also have serious reservations about Social Islam with its misogyny and treatment of women as chattel, its homophobia, racism and intolerance , its pedophilia (forced marriages between children and dirty old men), Sharia, polygamy, violence and segregation. Islam is condemned to the values of the 7th century and is incapable of evolving as western religions did ( we must remember that Judaism and Christianity were very violent and regressive initially as well but evolved painfully through the centuries to the values our society treasure today). Muslims are forbidden to evolve as the "word of Allah" is unquestionable and cannot be adapted to modern realities. It is truly a Clash of Civilizations and we must insist that our values be respected and celebrated, at least in our country. We can thank Mr. Trudeau for imposing his utopian multiculturalism on all of us in the Canadian Constitution. We are now seeing some of the negative fallout. We don't require or expect new Canadians to assimilate, but at least to integrate and respect our equalitarian, secular values that were gained at great cost by previous generations. The niqab is an affront to these values, and good on Quebec for finally facing the issue.

    • BINGO!!!

    • Please please dont think that all islamic nations dream a world of Caliphate and death to anyone not muslim. countries like Indonesia, the most populous muslim nation in the world, hate terrorists and exert a considerable amount of resources to curtail it. If a terrorist is found in Indonesia, expect the arrest, the trial and the execution to be completed on the same day. These radicals are a miniscule minority

  30. I am extremely tired of all the political "correctness" over these matters. I think Canada, and Canadians in general should be tolerate. But there are LIMITS to that tolerance. And those limits should be clear when the rights of other individuals are impacted by attempts to be "politically correct".

    This is Canada and in Canada we do not have a history of concealing our faces, we have never had a cultural preference to do so and it has never been accepted as a social norm. It is my personal opinion that it is a public security issue to have people allowed to walk around with their faces covered. I feel that whether you are taking a class, using public transportation or in the grocery store you have a right to be able to assess your surroundings and be aware of who is near you. If you are in a room with a group of people who all have their faces covered than who's rights are more important in that case? The groups or yours?

    I agree with the Quebec government 100% on this issue. I see absolutely no reason why the men in the class had to be inconvenienced in order to abide by the preferences of this woman. What about THEIR right to a proper education?

    Human rights mean nothing if people can justify actions based on their "human right" when that "human right" impacts the rights and welfare of other individuals. It seems fairly clear to me that this woman has an agenda and I don't respect her agenda.

    Decisions should be made for the greater good. And in this case, I think we should exercise common sense instead of rushing to appear politically correct all the time.

    If anything, it appears obvious in the article that attempts to accommodate this woman were made. It's not as if the school asked her to leave immediately without attempting to make some sort of reasonable concession.

    • Agree with you fully.

      Note, the classes were free – paid for by government, she probably was getting subsidized childcare, she gets free medical.And how did she plan to work in a pharmacy in Canada, where both men & women are served? What would she have done if a man came in & asked for Viagra?

      This wasn't a religious protest, it was an attempt to generate a lawsuit so she could live off Canadian taxpayers. She seems like a parasite..

      • tsk tsk tsk

  31. And how is Ms. Ahmed supposed to 'make ends meet'? What kind of a job can she get? How can she apply for a job, let alone get one, if nobody can see her face and she is forbidden to interact with half of the population?

    Sorry, but a domestic animal is less isolated.

    After the government, private institutions will go the same path. It is a matter of time until a bank denies them entry, or a store or a commerce. After all, their security cameras have to have a purpose.

    This is beyond archaic. It is even beyond prehistoric. It has no place here. Even an Amish community wouldn't tolerate it.

    • i have to say, that i totally disagree with your last statement, i live in an Amish community (being Mennonite myself). it would be tolerated and also accepted.

  32. My objection is this: In our exceptionally free and open society, NO facial disguise ought to be permissible. We need to be able to identify any person who breaks the law or threatens us. When did wearing a mask or disguise of any type get to be a "Canadian Value" – except in a hockey game or behind home plate on the baseball diamond, or maybe a performance of Phantom of the Opera?

    • In Newfoundland, we have a tradition of mummering (or jannying), originating in Britain, which involves dressing up in disguise at Christmas and going door to door. If invited in, the hosts then try to guess who is wearing the disguise. It is dying out because some took advantage of the disguises to get up to some less than savoury activities. Mummers now risk charges under the Criminal code for wearing a disguise. The Niqab's purpose is much the same: to render the person anonymous and unrecognizable. Why is it treated differently under the law? Alternately, if mummers declare themselves an offshoot of Christianity, would their right to wear the disguises then be protected under law?

  33. I am personally more concerned with immigrants who refuse to learn one of our official languages. And now this woman can't. I also don't really think that the state should be telling me how to dress. All of you agree with Quebec because it isn't the government coming after you. Try thinking outside the box. What about if they disallow any visible crosses, eg) necklaces? THEN would you be so supportive? Same rationale applies: separation of Church and state – so no visible religious garb in any public place, just like in France. Think about that for awhile before you disagree. How would your Grandparents feel if they were told they couldn't wear their religious symbols out of their house? That might destroy mine. For the record, I'd rather all religious symbols/garb be banned in public as I am atheist. Doesn't affect me.

    • A necklace doesn't cover anyone's face.

    • Culturally and historically, Canada's heritage is Judeo/Christian/Catholic and its laws and mores are based on those beliefs. As long as the majority of folks share that common ancestry, one will live as a Canadian in Canada. If one does not share in those beliefs, and doesn't make the effort to learn about their host's customs, one will still be tolerated and treated with respect, but only in so far as the newbie doesn't infringe/impede on the long established local customs, laws and mores of the natives. When in Rome …, etc.

    • Apples and oranges. A necklace around the next does not protect a woman from being raped, which is the TRUE significance of these garments. She's not wearing it out of some religious divinity — burkas, et al, are relatively new on the Islamic scene. As an athiest and a human, I do care about others' subjugation and false piety, and I will stand up and declare that it be stopped.

      • But who are you to tell others how to interpret their religion? Some people think the bible tells them they can't use birth control. Other don't. Do you dictate to them? I think ALL religion is lunacy but I don't go around telling people how to dress. It's none of my damn business.

  34. I guess the Quebecois have more sense than the rest of Canada and the US. Whether it is 5 years or 50 years from now those who disagree with Quebec right now will eventually wish they had followed their lead, or our children and grand children will wish we had.

  35. If both men and women are covered by the 'face cover' ban, I have zero problem…

    The important issue to remember is the resistance against blanket monitoring…

    Don't become England… Don't become "Reality Show Hell"…

    Always remember… Hell is a purely human construct…

  36. I have lived in other countries before and when choosing where to live I took into consideration the laws and culture of that country. Never did I go somewhere expecting for their laws to be changed or adapted to suit myself better. I have now settled in Canada I accept the laws and cultures of Canada and Canadians. Yes there are practises, beliefs that do not agree with my own religion, but I came here because it offers a better, more promising future. All immigrants need to recognise, respect and follow the Canadian customs and laws that are in place here or else Canada will no longer be the better country which we all left our own countries to be a part of.

  37. To me it seems like there are two separate issues. If this woman was not participating in the class, then she should probably fail it (rather than being banned from taking it, or any similar class – how does that help anybody?). The other issue is the Niqab, which should have no bearing on this debate. We are not, and shouldn't be in the business of refusing access to government services on the basis of people's clothing choices.

    To those that view a niqab as un-Canadian, I disagree. The point of Canada, and of Canada's commitment to women's rights isn't that all women should have jobs and wear pant-suits, or whatever. The point is that women should have a choice. Naema Ahmed does have a choice – if she wants to take her Niqab off she can because she lives in a free country. Freedom also means she should have the ability to put the Niqab on, unless it somehow interferes with somebody else.

    To be honest, I'm pretty flabbergasted by the reaction I've seen on the comment boards here, and hope it is not indicative of Canadian opinion as a whole.

    • hosertohoosier,

      Canadians should speak out against female abuse by niqab everywhere the niqab appears… Otherwise, Canadian will be equated with Hypocritical…

      • Where is the abuse? The only person I see being abused is the one being refused government services to which she is due.

        If your argument is that women that don't want to wear the Niqab may be ostracized by their communities if they don't, I have a few responses.
        1. If that is true, rather than 'liberating' women, you are avoiding the root problem (that there is some community that oppresses women) and adding to the woes of such women by refusing them government services. That is especially bad because it means their husbands will learn English/French and they won't.
        2. There are probably at least some women that do want to wear a Niqab (quite possible a majority within the community). Why don't their preferences count as women's rights? Why is the imposition of a ban by the government upon them not female abuse?
        3. Frankly, it is the right of people to ostracize others if they don't like them or their behavior. The flipside of that is that in Canada you can always ignore or abandon a community of which you are a member (of course it is always easier to do that if you have the opportunity to say, learn French, etc).

        • Please educate yourself about Islam. I would recommend Ayaan Hirsi Ali's memoir "Infidel" to start. If you think Islam is like Christianity, or that there is some informed, educated, freedom of choice decision about covering yourself head to toe in black in the works here, you are sorely, sorely mistaken. Wasn't it only a month ago a girl was discovered in Turkey on the side of the road, her lungs filled with dirt, buried alive because she had dishonored her father by talking to a boy? These things don't matter to you?

          • Generalizations are real easy vivian..

            "The most authentic ruling according to the majority of scholars is that it is not necessary and, unlike hijab, there is no sin if it is not worn. Some of these scholars state that wearing the niqab as an act of extra piety, provided they do not believe it is an obligation, will be rewarded."


            It is a choice of hers making it a womans right, her right. BTW i do agree with Quebec's decision but don't think her religion is hindering her freedom of choice.

      • You want to talk about female abuse? How about our culture that engages in blaming rape victims for being raped (eg. she shouldn't walk down the street at night alone; she shouldn't dress like that, etc). How about the media, which tells women they aren't beautiful unless they are thin and wear makeup. But the makeup can't look like makeup or like it took a long time to apply. Let's talk about THAT abuse. How these images are driving young girls to anorexia and bulimia at an alarming rate. How about we focus on real abuse and not a piece of f*cking cloth.

    • it is so refreshing to hear someone talk about freedom, all we have heard about are rules, but Canada is the land of freedom. i also agree with your last statement i realy hope this does not reflect on the Canadian opinion as a whole.

  38. I agree with the Quebec decision. This is a not a religious matter but a tradition according to Sheikh Mohammed Tantawi, regarded by many as Egypt's Imam and Sunni Islam's foremost spiritual authority. Why would she insist on wearing it here in school while it is banned in schools in her homeland Egypt is beyond me?

    • It's not banned. I don't know where people are getting that idea from.

  39. Way to go Quebec !! this is a breath of fresh air , Canadians are slowly loosing who we are to immigration!

    Tired of loosing my Canadian Identity

    • If incidents like this make you fear for your Can. identity, I'd suggest that you have already lost your Canadian identity

    • I thought the French left their homeland and landed on Canada , I didn't know it was the other way around. Strange

  40. Politics, religion and dress aside, it is difficult to teach someone to speak a new language if that person's voice is muffled by covering and one cannot see how the sounds are being formed by the speaker. Without evident facial expressions, the speaker has handicapped herself in giving clues to her meaning. Moreover, in test situations, the nigab etc can hide earphones and other technology used to cheat.

    Further, she has not been prevented from learning the official language or finding a job; there are other venues in which she could get language training, such as non-profit immigrant agencies where her cultural needs might be better accommodated. Similarly for finding a job, she is going to need to find a place of employment that would accept her niqab.

  41. Bravo Quebec!! If I go to Egypt or KSA, I have to cover my arms & legs. If she comes here, she has to uncover her face; she is a 'person' here – unlike where she comes from. We read people's faces for reaction, interest, attitude. If she came here looking for a job I would not bother to interview her. Most employers would feel the same way. Hence, she will remain unemployed, a drain on the taxpayers of our great country. If she doesn't like it, she can always go back to Egypt. Most Muslims are making a positive contribution and like the rest of us, you cannot tell where we worship by our attire.

    • When you go to those countries, you cover up because you'd be breaking the law otherwise. Do you really want to equate Canada with places like Egypt?

    • How is she treated as a person here? She's treated as less than human if she can't get interviewed because of what she's wearing. The same logic used to go those who were hardly wearing anything. Don't know if Islamophobia will change that attitude too.

  42. Brockville, Ontario – Quebec has come up with a very reasonable accomodation. A Niqab is not acceptable in Schools or Government service offices where facial recognition and facial expressions are important. If you want to wear it at home, on the street or any place else where it is acceptable, please feel free.
    People forget that this is only from certain sects, not from the Quran which only calls for "modesty". Quite a long stretch from that to any head covering let alone a Niqab, but that's up to to those who want to wear it.

  43. I personally agree with Quebec!!

  44. Ban the niqab, burka and hijab in Canada! Or ban the people who insist on wearing them. Though the argument is that we need immigration to bolster up an ageing and child-lite country, we don't need these particular immigrants. There are lots of other countries to choose from.
    There are a few Muslim women in Vancouver who wear niquabs (I've only seen one in an Afghani burka), but most don't cover their faces, and the ones that work in places like 7-Eleven, just wear a headscarf. I can't imagine that Ms. Ahmed realistically expects to get a job in Canada if she insists on covering her face and not tolerating men in her presence. Would you want to get your prescriptions from a masked pharmacist?

    • What about a masked doctor taking care of you? Scarey

  45. Well I never thought I'd agree with the Quebec government but they've got it right on. Too bad the federal government doesn't operate like this. I think if you want to immigrate to Canada then be a Canadian. We waste too much money on multiculturism. If they want to keep their old ways why come here? My parents came here from Europe, learned the language, worked hard, and were proud to be Canadian. They didn't expect any special treatment like the immigrants nowdays.

  46. We should not make kind face on bullshit…If it is bullshit we have to make expression of nonconfirmance with all this face maskarade in the name of faux attitude of a global tolerance of international customs.

  47. Rarely agree with Quebecers but they are bang on in with this one. No one should have to cover there face in public unless they are hiding something. The rest of the provinces should support Quebec on this and if immigrants don't like it they can go home.

    • Just the sort of Canadian tolerance that we're known for. Blend in or get the f*ck out. You sound like an American.

  48. Are all of you stupid?????!!!!! we live in canada, the free country,"our true north strong and free", the land of promise, the place people come for reffuge. if all christians were baned from wearing crosses, what would we say? these people are comming here to get a new life, a life where we are alowed to live, talk, play and yes, DRESS like we would like. there is as much defiance in wearing a niqabs as there is in wearing a dress, yes, times have changed, but we still have the freedom to wear what we want. freedom is the key in our country and if we take that away, we die. canadians are the frendly country, but from what i have read we are no better than the idiots who control these countries. is our need for every one to be the same so strong that we are willing to take away all chance that these people had at a new life by kicking them out of school.

  49. i completly agree with luisse i think we should be allowed to dress as we like. cmon people we do not want the war to come to us and screw us over because you idiots are stirring up the already weak relationship we have with the muslims and i'm not even sure what canada is now because you idiots are ripping on people just like this.

    • we dont want the war to come to us ? should we all convert to islam?

      This country has been built by a lot of different people with different nationalities however not one of them expected the country to bend over backwards for them. If she wants to wear her religions garment wear it at home or in a private school, if you want to get government funding to learn the language then respect our policies.

      Sometimes I wonder who screens the immigration application forms, and if it's really hard to figure out who will assimilate better in this country and who wont because I'm sure there are lots of other women and men who would love to have the opportunity to come here and start over.

      • well it is your choice if you want to you can can do you think he care? not really. so just go put your tail between your legs and go away!

  50. >> a student was turned away on account of a few square centimetres of black cloth.

    well, I come in the class naked shall I be turned away or admitted? Following you – it is the same "few square centimetres of black cloth"…

    The issue is – it is not!

    It is about cultural norms of a particular society in particular time and place, and is not about freedoms of expression or religion as some try to portray. For those I can suggest to study!!

  51. Just what is Naema Ahmed doing in a secular non- believer society in the first place? Part of a vanguard to overpopulate then convert Canada to a true Believer Islamic Theocracy perhaps? Are Muslim countries too restrictive for her?

    • I didn't know humans had a choice of their family, heritage, or where they were born. Does that exist by itself or does it require time travel?

      • People have a choice whether or not to wear the niqab . . at least in Canada.

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