Larry Miller and the case against the niqab

Parsing the niqab debate


 
Larry Miller, Conservative MP for Bruce Grey- Owen Sound. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Larry Miller, Conservative MP for Bruce Grey-Owen Sound, Ont. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

I wrote last week that the case for banning the niqab during the swearing of the citizenship oath was weak and uninspiring. And before that, I wrote about Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s controversial remarks about the issue. In light of subsequent comments by Defence Minister Jason Kenney, Conservative MP Larry Miller and Zunera Ishaq, the woman who has challenged the government’s policy in court, let’s go at this debate at least one more time.

So Conservative MP Larry Miller said you should “stay the hell where you came from” if you insist that your claim to religious freedom in regards to the niqab should override a government directive about citizenship ceremonies, adding he is “sick and tired” of prospective Canadian citizens seeking to “change things” before they have received citizenship. And so now, he is sorry for any comments he made “beyond” the basic sentiment that the citizenship oath should be sworn without a niqab.

In that radio segment, Miller also offered some commentary on the legal case that is at issue here: suggesting that the Federal Court’s decision against the government was somehow flawed (“that isn’t right”) and agreeing with a caller who posited that if the government does not win its appeal of that decision, it would be demonstrated that something is “wrong”.

Miller’s declaration of precisely where in the hell one should locate oneself are being justifiably reported and reviewed, but his legal commentary is the basis for a specifically useful discussion. Or at least, it could be the basis for a specifically useful discussion. In exactly which way does Miller, or any other Conservative, or any other member of the government, believe that the Federal Court judge erred in his ruling? On what grounds should that ruling be overturned? On what basis should the government’s desire to see the niqab removed during the swearing of the citizenship oath trump a claim of religious freedom made by the wearer of a niqab?

Those questions would, presumably, get to the actual issues here.

Is there a practical argument for banning the niqab?

Zunera Ishaq, the woman whose legal challenge resulted in a Federal Court judge ruling against the government’s ban on the niqab during citizenship ceremonies, has written an op-ed for the Toronto Star to explain herself and her position. It’s an interesting read and she mounts a challenging argument on practice and principle.

My desire to live on my own terms is also why I have chosen to challenge the government’s decision to deny me citizenship unless I take off my niqab at my oath ceremony. I have taken my niqab off for security and identity reasons in every case where that’s been required of me, such as when I have taken a driver’s licence photo or gone through airport security. I will take my niqab off again before the oath ceremony without protest, so I can be properly identified. I will not take my niqab off at that same ceremony for the sole reason that someone else doesn’t like it, even if that person happens to be Stephen Harper.

When Jason Kenney announced the policy in December 2011, he included a claim to practicality in his argument: The minister said the removal of the niqab would allow judges “to ensure that all citizenship candidates are, in fact, reciting the oath as required by law.” But Kenney didn’t mention that consideration when he spoke with my colleague John Geddes last week, nor did he mention it during an interview with the CBC this weekend (go to the 7:40 mark for the relevant question and response).

It would make sense for Kenney to drop the practical argument because it would seem to be easily rebutted: Visibility is not needed to confirm someone says something, and a niqab doesn’t necessarily prevent the transmission of sound.

Similarly, the Canadian Press recently quibbled with Conservatives who tried to argue that banning the niqab during the oath was a matter of confirming identity.

How do we define religious considerations?

In his interview with this magazine, Kenney claimed “that a huge number of Muslims have reminded me that the face covering is not a religious obligation.” There’s an interesting discussion to be had here about theology, religion, culture and history (see Chapter 5 of this report on the wearing of the niqab in Canada), but it would seem to be of questionable utility when it comes to public policy, the law and the right to religious freedom.

Here I turn to the Supreme Court ruling in Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, a case involving four Orthodox Jewish men who wanted to setup sukkahs on their apartment balconies. A Superior Court judge had ruled that no religious obligation existed, and a court of appeal judge concurred, but a majority on the Supreme Court ruled that both that judge and the court of appeal had adopted “an unduly restrictive view of freedom of religion.”

Here is how the basis for a claim of religious freedom was consequently set out in the summary of Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin’s argument for the majority:

Freedom of religion under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ) consists of the freedom to undertake practices and harbour beliefs, having a nexus with religion, in which an individual demonstrates he or she sincerely believes or is sincerely undertaking in order to connect with the divine or as a function of his or her spiritual faith, irrespective of whether a particular practice or belief is required by official religious dogma or is in conformity with the position of religious officials. This understanding is consistent with a personal or subjective understanding of freedom of religion. As such, a claimant need not show some sort of objective religious obligation, requirement or precept to invoke freedom of religion. It is the religious or spiritual essence of an action, not any mandatory or perceived‑as‑mandatory nature of its observance, that attracts protection. The State is in no position to be, nor should it become, the arbiter of religious dogma. Although a court is not qualified to judicially interpret and determine the content of a subjective understanding of a religious requirement, it is qualified to inquire into the sincerity of a claimant’s belief, where sincerity is in fact at issue. Sincerity of belief simply implies an honesty of belief and the court’s role is to ensure that a presently asserted belief is in good faith, neither fictitious nor capricious, and that it is not an artifice. Assessment of sincerity is a question of fact that can be based on criteria including the credibility of a claimant’s testimony, as well as an analysis of whether the alleged belief is consistent with his or her other current religious practices. Since the focus of the inquiry is not on what others view the claimant’s religious obligations as being, but what the claimant views these personal religious “obligations” to be, it is inappropriate to require expert opinions. It is also inappropriate for courts rigorously to study and focus on the past practices of claimants in order to determine whether their current beliefs are sincerely held. Because of the vacillating nature of religious belief, a court’s inquiry into sincerity, if anything, should focus not on past practice or past belief but on a person’s belief at the time of the alleged interference with his or her religious freedom.

Freedom of religion is triggered when a claimant demonstrates that he or she sincerely believes in a practice or belief that has a nexus with religion . . .

Thus, what Jason Kenney or other Muslims or the general public believe about the niqab would seem to be rather secondary. But if the government wishes to mount an argument that the state should be able to determine the credibility of a claim to religious freedom, or that the courts should take a narrower view of a claim to religious expression, let’s hear it.

Do we want to put an individual’s rights to a vote?

In the midst of explaining his views yesterday, Larry Miller said he thinks most Canadians feel the same as he does about people who refuse to remove the niqab during the oath.

In its response to the Miller controversy, the Prime Minister’s Office stated its belief that “most Canadians, including new Canadians, would find it offensive that someone would cover their face at the very moment they want to join the Canadian family.”

In his interview with the CBC, Jason Kenney said the “vast majority” of Canadians agree with the government’s position.

And in his interview with Maclean’s, Kenney said the “vast majority of new Canadians . . . believe that there are certain important hallmarks of integration” and the “vast majority of Muslims that I’ve spoken with strongly supported my decision.”

All these claims are only relevant to the issue at hand if you believe that the extent of the rights of individuals, including the right to religious freedom, should be determined by popular vote. Unless that’s the argument here, the appeal to popular opinion is a red herring.

Is the citizenship oath analogous to another situation when the niqab is removed?

In his interview with the CBC, Kenney offered this comparison for removing the niqab during the saying of the oath: “It’s like when an individual does an interview with a government official on perhaps their immigration application. They should of course do so with their faces uncovered.”

An interview with a government official is not quite the public act that the oath is; I presume interviews are basically conducted in private. But, for the sake of argument, I am interested to know how this works. When an individual is interviewed about her immigration application, does she remove or lift the niqab only at the outset to confirm identification? Or must the niqab be removed for the duration of the interview? I’ve asked the office of Immigration Minister Chris Alexander that question and I will post the response when I receive it. (I suspect it might also matter whether a woman wearing a niqab has the option to request a female interviewer.)

But never mind the Charter (at least for now)

Mind you, it wasn’t any of the above that defeated the government’s case at the Federal Court: The judge didn’t need to deal with the Charter because he found a crucial discrepancy between the directive from Kenney and the regulations that govern the citizenship process, in which case, he gave precedence to the regulations. In short, the judge viewed the ban of the niqab as incompatible with the regulatory instruction that, in administering the oath, citizenship judges should allow “the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or solemn affirmation thereof.”

If we limit ourselves to this terrain, I have at least two questions.

First, if the government wishes to see the niqab banned, why doesn’t it change the regulations to reflect that? I asked the office of Minister Chris Alexander that question and a spokesman responded, “We are not going to speculate on hypotheticals and we are going to make our arguments in court.” (In an op-ed published today, law professor Richard Moon suggests the government amend the regulations, though Moon notes that would trigger a Charter challenge, which the government would lose.)

Second, and more crucial, it seems to me, if the government adamantly believes the niqab should be banned during the oath, why did the government apparently tell the court that the directive was not mandatory, but optional? Here, again, are the first three sentences of paragraph 30 of Justice Boswell’s ruling:

The Respondent argues that this application is premature. In its view, the Policy is not mandatory and citizenship judges are free not to apply it. As such, there is no way to know what would have happened had the Applicant attended the ceremony and refused to uncover her face.

So it would seem that while the government is publicly declaring that wearing the niqab during the oath is unequivocally not something that should be allowed, it has otherwise defended the policy as quite open to equivocation. Beyond the legal arguments here, that seems to my untrained eye like a serious complication for the government’s political argument.

Whatever Larry Miller’s views of where the hell one should situate oneself, the government’s basic argument would seem to amount to this: that a citizenship ceremony is of a particular nature that the government should be able to impose a standard of dress for it, regardless of an individual’s claim to religious freedom, so far as the niqab is concerned. In light of all else—and, I might add, the Supreme Court’s ruling on when a niqab should be removed during a trial—it remains a weak and uninspiring argument. It is a principle without a practical basis that would have the government dismiss a fundamental right. It is to presume that the state can, without substantial cause, dictate attire and place a limit on one’s religious freedom.

As a footnote: In his interview with the CBC, Kenney claims that his directive wasn’t a matter of controversy when he announced it in 2011. That’s only sort of the case. It didn’t raise much of a political controversy so far as Parliament Hill is concerned. But beyond Ottawa, there were concerns and objections—see hereherehere and here. A brief dispatch in this magazine conveyed the view of one law professor that the ban wouldn’t survive a legal challenge: “It’s not in accordance with any interpretation of Canadian law.”


 

Larry Miller and the case against the niqab

  1. Bring our troops home!!

  2. Thank you for this. A very sane and rational analysis. So nice to see you continuing to point out that what some Muslims say about the religious beliefs of other Muslims is quite irrelevant.

    I would point out that the majority of Canadians did not vote for Harper (thanks to the FPTP system) so by his own argument, his government lacks legitimacy.

    • This kind of logic or reasoning is lost on Canadians like Larry and the constituencies which elect them. here’s an example of the thinking, or lack of same:

      “Kudos to you Larry Miller, you said what should have been said, these ppl come here take our healthcare and social assistance and yet they try to force their religion, values and their laws on us, EXCUSE ME you are in our country and must follow our laws or go back from where you came!!!!!!!”

  3. There is far too much attention to what Muslims think or want. There are approximately 1 million Muslims out of 35 million yet to read the news you would think this was a Muslim country. They must be either the subject or receive mention in 2/3 of the news stories.
    To hell with Muslims, I don’t care what you want or what will make you happy. It’s time Muslims started worrying about what makes me happy. I have no sympathies for Muslims when people give them a hard time, they bring it on themselves.

    • Sigh. I fear from the tone of your comment that reasoned debate may be beyond you, but I feel compelled to try.

      It clearly has escaped your notice that the reason the Muslim faith is being covered by the media these days is because some bigots out there seem to think it is super awful that some women wish to wear the clothing dictated by their faith during their swearing in as Canadian citizens. As in, it has not been the people who practice the Muslim faith asking for all this attention, but rather the faux outrage of all the bigots out there who have foisted this into the spotlight.

      • Gayle wrote:
        “It clearly has escaped your notice that the reason the Muslim faith is being covered by the media these days is because some bigots out there seem to think it is super awful that some women wish to wear the clothing dictated by their faith during their swearing in as Canadian citizens.”

        Actually, Gayle, the media has spent a lot of time disussing Muslim’s because it is folks of the Islamic Faith that seem to think it’s not only OKAY….to kill someone who is not a Muslim, but that it is a requirement of their religious text. The Niqab is a reflection of a devout Muslim…….and it is the devout muslim’s who seem to be the folks prone to take their faith to the extreme.

        Women wearing a niqab is NOT about their religion, it is about flipping the bird to the civilized country you wish to become a citizen of.

        There is no “faux” outrage…..it is real outrage caused by the terrorist incidents we’ve seen here in Canada. And in case you didn’t notice……terrorist incidents are almost the exclusive domain of the religion of Islam.

        People aren’t concerned about the article of clothing, or how it is worn. They are worried about the ideology and beliefs behind it.

        Hope that clears things up for you.

        • I did not need to see your reply to know what you would say. It’s already been established that reasoned debate is beyond YOU.

          I will just leave you with this: if what you argue was true, don’t you think the CPC would be highlighting Miller’s comments instead of distancing themselves from them? Don’t you think they’d be justifying their silly ban on this basis?

          Anyway, thanks for giving me a laugh to start my day.

          • Gayle,

            You knew what I was going to say….because what I say is true.

            You know it’s true….but being a “good and progressive” liberal, you cannot permit yourself to admit it. Certainly not in public.

            as for Miller’s comments, he stood by the intent, but he was apologizing for the tone. I supect he is correct that most people would agree with his views….at least those who are not blinded by the requirement to maintain their carefully constructed persona of “someone who is more open minded” than you.

            Suits you to a T.

            I suspect that you feel the same way as Mr Miller…..but cannot bring yourself to admit it beyond your own inner voice.

            don’t worry Gayle….you just keep pretending, as I know it is what drives the progressives in any event. I’m sure everyone thinks you are the morally superior being. Hope that makes you feel better.

            but you aren’t fooling anyone.

          • Heh. Reasonable people always avoid questions by accusing the questioner of secretly agreeing with them.

            Ha ha ha ha ha

          • Keep laughing Gayle … keep laughing until aspects of Shia Law are introduced as in the UK.

          • Yup. Well banning the niqab at an oath swearing will certainly prevent that!

            Ha ha ha ha ha

        • I also totally agree with you. I too tried to present to her the view point about the beliefs as well, but then she started comparing Hutterites to those practicing the niqab version of Islam. There is no point in debating with her. She is just way too smart for us (SIC). Also, if you have any view point other than hers, than she officially labels you a bigot.

          • Gayle’s point in all of her comments aren’t directed towards the debate of any topic.

            She is more concerned about maintaining the appearance of enlightenment; because internally, she knows it is just not true.

            you’ll find that about most people who call themselves “progressive”

            They don’t like themselves, so they do whatever they can to make someone else like them. Kind of pathetic really.

        • Women wearing a niqab is NOT about their religion, it is about flipping the bird to the civilized country you wish to become a citizen of.

          I’ll start off by saying I agree with you on this. And I’ll finish by saying that I will vigorously defend anyone’s right to flip the bird at segments of our society, such as you with the rest of your comment. Because that is a right we have in Canada, and it needs defending ESPECIALLY when you disagree with how that right is being used.

          • I don’t care about the cloth…..

            I care about what the motivation behind it is.

        • Thanks James; I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      • Are the Muslims who are equally offended by Ms. Ishaq’s determination to have the process of becoming a Canadian citizen altered to suit her needs also “bigots”? Is their outrage also “faux”?

        You are fond of making the convuluted argument that the position of the CPC to rage against certain cultural practices (sorry, I’m with EmilyOne on this one) on the basis that by doing so, they’re defending women who they consider oppressed is counter-productive, as being less accommodating of their cultural/religious practices will make such women less likely to flee their oppression to Canada. If you accept that, for every Ms. Ishaq who rejoices in her oppression, there are numerous Muslim women who do not, how do you think the forcing of niqab accommodation into the tenets of Canadian life will be received among them? Or do the hundreds of Muslim women who are denied education, forced into marriages, stoned for being raped and forced to wear the niqab and, therefore, view it as a powerful symbol of their oppression not matter to you?

        • Nonsense. The woman here has already said she wears it by choice. It is completely irrelevant if other Myslim women find it offensive.

        • You’ve clearly missed the point. This woman has very clearly stated it’s her choice to wear the niqab. What other Muslims have to say about that is just as meaningless as Protestants saying Catholics aren’t true Christians because there are no nuns in the Bible. Maybe try reading the article above. You might learn something.

          By the way, I completely disagree with REAL women, and their sexist dogma. But I would never suggest they do not have the right to express their views, or practice their religion in any way they see fit.

          • So, in fact, you don’t care about the impact of niqab-mania on oppressed Muslim women elsewhere. Good to know. How about the examples cited elsewhere about wearing Klansmen regalia or Nazi swastikas if the person doing so, in the hallowed words of the CJ is “a claimant (that) demonstrates that he or she sincerely believes in a practice or belief that has a nexus with religion”? Guess we’ve all just got to accept a few black/Jewish eggs will have to be cracked in the making of a tasty Charter-infused omelet.

            Curious your reference to REAL women, who I’m sure would love to see many other tenets of Canadian life changed to accommodate their Charter-protected religious views. What fun it would be to have you go through the list! Or are there, in fact, limits to the extent to which Canadian society must succumb to religious nutbar-iness?

          • You are going to have to explain this curious notion that banning women from wearing the niqab during the citizenship oath is somehow protecting all the women in Saudi Arabia. Especially since wearing the niqab is not illegal in Canada, where women are free to wear it or not (unlike Saudi Arabia). It’s curious, this idea that forcing oppressed women to remain in the control of the oppressors is somehow helping them.

            In any event, in answer to what I believe was your attempt at a question, I have said many times that religious practice, that does not harm others, should be acceptable. Last I checked, wearing the niqab during an oath hasn’t hurt anyone. REAL women trying to violate women’s physical integrity by barring abortions does affect others, which is why they will never succeed with that.

          • It is a curious notion but, thankfully, not mine. No more curious, however, than insisting oppressed women will be loathe to come to Canada if a potent symbol of their oppression isn’t incorporated into citizenship rites.

            Your doctrine that anything any addled jurist can be convinced to read into the Charter goes if it “doesn’t “hurt anyone” is yet another example of the depth of your thinking about these things. By your standard, then, wearing a Klansman’s hood or insisting on holding Mein Kampf while pledging allegiance to Canada are acceptable, because neither “hurts anyone”. How about solemnly swearing between tokes on a reefer, if sufficient ventilation can be arranged?

            I’m sure the Trinity Western law school folk will be pleased as punch to know their approval is assured, given a request that students try to remain chaste while studying surely doesn’t “hurt anyone”.

          • Well actually, I insisted that women who choose to wear the niqab as part of their faith will be prevented from becoming Canadian citizens if Harper gets his way.

            I am not sure why you are referring to what jurists say (by which I suspect you mean the 9 judges of the SCC, who happen to be 9 of the smartest and best legal minds in the country, But never mind – you don’t agree with them so I guess they must be wrong!). I have given you my opinion on where the line is drawn. As I have done before. Forgetful?

            In any event, you are mixing up a lot of unrelated factors, which means you are not making any sense. Not that I am surprised by that. Maybe sit down and figure out what you are trying to say and then try again.

        • By “jurist” I mean any judge or justice empowered to reshape Canadian society on the most trivial of bases and against the will of the democratic part of Canadian government. This would include the 9 SCC justices for whom you appear to have a Bieber-like crush. They are worthy of the high regard with which they are generally held, but they are far from flawless and they have been invited to meddle with issues that transcend the law and for which they have no greater expertise than the man on the Clapham omnibus.

          As for your other effusions they, sadly, are of a kind with your previous postings, in that they are deflections that avoid a response to someone pointing out the inanities of your thought. You consider niquab wearing to be Charter-protected religious expression that should be accommodated by judicial re-writing of the Citizenship Act because doing so “doesn’t hurt anyone”. When it is pointed out to you that wearing Klansman hoods or nazism can equally be considered Chartered protected religious express – according to CJ MacLaughlin herself! – that likewise “don’t hurt anyone”, your head explodes and you default to evasion and hurling insults.

          • You know, one way to ensure your posts are accurate and relevant to the topic at hand is to actually read the article you are commenting on. At least now I understand why your comments are such nonsense. You simply have all your facts wrong. So I am going to help you.

            Fact: the Court’s decision in this case has nothing to do with the Charter.

            Fact: the Court’s ruling in this case did not involve a “judicial rewriting” of the Citizenship Act.

            Fact: I was offering my opinion on the limits of freedom of religion, not on court rulings (though my opinion is generally consistent with court rulings).

            Fact: political beliefs are not the same as religious beliefs

            Fact: equating my opinion that SCC justices are 9 of the finest legal minds in the country (an opinion that is difficult to dispute given their position) to a teenage girl’s devotion to Justin Bieber is pretty sexist. Probably not as sexist as declaring women who choose to wear a niqab can’t do so “for their own good”, but sexist nonetheless. Not that I expect you to understand that, but since I am trying to help you I thought I better include it.

            Hope this helps!

          • Gayle wrote:

            “Fact: political beliefs are not the same as religious beliefs”

            gayle, when it comes to ISLAM, the political is the religious.

            that is the part you have never understood, and frankly, problably never will.

  4. Right on MP Larry Miller!!!

    • I say ‘right on” as well.. but I suspect for different reasons then you.. I thank Larry Miller for openly stating what he thinks rather then resorting to “dog-whistles” so we can see the Conservative caucus for what they are – appealing to the intolerant of society.
      .

      • Scott,

        I see you have grabbed on to the latest catch phrase “dog whistle”……

        yep….the bandwagon brigade begins anew. I’m sure we’ll be hearing of dog whistles for a while now.

        As for Miller’s comments……..he was correct. A great many Canadians feel the same way….and they are not all Conservative. You failed to mention the NDP members from Quebec who have made similar comments.

      • Exactly! Curious why the posters here aren’t pestering Harper to be more open?

  5. Beyond all the religious reasons (or not) put forward, I think many (if not most) Canadians just find the sight of a covered face jarring!
    Normal human contact and general human interactions require seeing someone’s face.
    It’s a tough call. Is one considered a bigot for wanting someone to show their face? My tolerance stops at the niqab.

    • Haha. How many people walk around with their faces covered in the middle of winter? I don’t think people find covering your face “jarring”. If you only find the niqab jarring, then maybe look at that bigotry thing again.

      • Gayle,

        they don’t have much of a winter in Saudi Arabia, and the women there cannot leave the house without having their face covered; or in the company of a male relative.

        that is what the Niqab or burka is all about. Control of women, and their oppression. it has nothing to do with freedom of choice. In saudi arabia….you wouldn’t be allowed to go out in public, or drive a car.

        But hey….if you want to defend a culture that hates your gender…fill your boots. Just makes you a bigger idiot that people already suspected you are. And that is saying something.

        Gayle: Defender of misogyny.

        • Wherry posted a link in another article a couple of days ago that indicates most of the Canadian niqab wearers surveyed did so in spite of the wishes of their families / spouses. Many began wearing it after their arrival in Canada. So while I agree generally that it is a form of oppression in other countries, that’s not necessarily the case here.

          But here’s the other thing that you seem to be missing: How does forcing someone to not wear a niqab when they really want to wear it equate to freeing them from oppression? Isn’t that just a different form of oppression?

          • So, Keith, do you believe that an “article” defines something proven?

          • I believe a survey of actual wearers – found here: http://ccmw.com/women-in-niqab-speak-a-study-of-the-niqab-in-canada/ – proves more than a bunch of people mouthing off without trying to ascertain any facts whatsoever. It is a small sample and so may be limited in its usefulness – but still better than just guessing.

            And I note that you ignored my second paragraph altogether. Funny how the anti-niqab crowd trumpet freedom but skate around this question every time it is raised.

        • Try reading the original comment and then try again.

    • How do you feel about men who cover their faces with full facial hair? Like, say, Santa Claus? How come you aren’t against Santa Claus?

      • I’m not worried about Santa Claus because he isn’t real.

        The vicitims of Islam are….and there are 19 more of them as of yesterday.

        • My bad….

          as of this morning, the vicitms of Islam in this particlar attack…have jumped to over 130. Shia muslim’s this time, and as per normal…victims of SUNNI wahibists.

  6. What of the case of a person with an entirely tattooed face. Allowed to take the oath?

  7. And if the Conservatives (and their supporters) “believe that the extent of the rights of individuals . . . should be determined by popular vote,” then why is Stephen Harper prime minister? I don’t recall him ever winning a majority of the popular vote. Funny how principles can be a fickle thing.

  8. Clearly the world is in the midst of religious warfare. Everybody’s talking about ISIS, Jihadists, Niqab, Islamophobia etc. But no one is talking about the elephant in the room – God. Where is God? The Islamic God is the same God that both Christians and Jews adhere to. Where is he by the way? Oh yeah – he is in the imaginations of all who believe he is real. Too bad he isn’t – but lets keep pretending that he is. He must be having a gay old time watching all the mayhem he is causing down here in this spec of dust called earth. Here’s a newsflash folks. God is the problem. Religion – all of them – is the problem. Belief in magical afterlife is the problem. Try reality for a change. You might even find true human spirituality if you pry open your welded shut minds.

    • As an athiest….I tend to agree with you.

      The difference of course, is the method of worship.

      Christians – charity, chasitity (don’t agree with this part) and the Golden rule.
      Jews – same, only with a longer history.
      Muslims – kill all who disagree with their interpretation of worship.

      If you had to pick one……?

      • “Muslims – kill all who disagree with their interpretation of worship.”

        Someone better tell Harper that, since his immigration policy allows them in. Including the woman who wants to wear her niqab when she swears her oath.

        • And that’s a problem.

          We should STOP letting them in until they learn the rules of civilized behaviour.

          • Sure. Then why don’t you tell Harper that? Better yet, why don’t you get a petition signed by like minded conservative supporters and have it presented in parliament by a conservative MP.

            How do you think Harper will handle this? Think he’ll welcome this idea with open arms?

          • you and I both know that it would never fly…..

          • Yup. Because you are not on the side of the majority.

  9. I am in support of Larry Miller If this person has religious beliefs so strong then why is she in this country in the first place?

    • Why is any Christian, Jew, Sikh, or Buddhist here? Not sure I follow your question.

      If you are wondering why someone whose religious and cultural values so obviously clash with those around her would choose to live in Canada, I too wonder about that. It seems odd to me that one would choose to stand out and so obviously set oneself apart from the surrounding community.

      However, maybe we offer some freedoms that aren’t available where she comes from – like the right to choose whether or not to wear her niqab. Like better opportunities for education. Like a less oppressive society that hems her in and sets a very narrow role for her life.

      And maybe, someday, because we offer all this… she may choose to take it off. Or not. And as long as she doesn’t try to make anyone else wear one… what does it matter?

      • Wish there was an Edit feature. “Like a less oppressive society that hems her in and sets a very narrow role for her life.” should read “Like a less oppressive society that doesn’t hem her in or set a very narrow role for her life.”

      • Exactly. But I would point out that when Jews, Sikhs and Buddhists first came here, they also “stood out”. There was a time in North America when the Irish were unwelcome and “stood out”.

        • Gayle,

          I don’t know if you and Keith are purposefully being obtuse……of if you are both just idiots.

          Jews, sikhs, and buddhists aren’t in the news 10 times a day exhaulting the latest mass murder in the name of their religion. You can’t go on You-Tube and watch Jews, Sikh’s, or buddhists whacking heads of women, children, and men.

          It wasn’t the Jews, Sikh’s or buddhists who planned to blow up buildings in Tortonto, or decapitate the PM of the country. It is not the Jews, Sikh’s or buddhists who are currently in court charged with consipriacy to commit mass murder by blowing up a VIA rail train full of people. It was not a Jew, sikh or buddhist who murdered a Canadian soldier and then stormed Parliament hill to murder more.

          Are you starting to get the picture yet?

          (I didn’t think you would. Your progressive credentials mean you are unable to notice the obvious)

          • Your best argument is always “if you don’t agree with me you must be stupid!”

            Ha ha ha ha ha

            Otherwise, and I know this is too fine a point for a bigot to understand, it is blatantly obvious that only a small percentage of Muslims engage in this conduct.

            Some Christians took it upon themselves to murder doctors who performed abortions. Should we therefore condemn them all?

          • James, the single biggest terrorist act committed against Canadians was the Air India attack. Remember that? Committed by Sikhs. Do you think all Sikhs are a danger to society because of the act of this handful? How many years has it been now – have there been other attacks? You think, then, that the small risk terrorism constitutes to Canadians (far less than the risk of being killed by a moose) is worth the surrender of civil liberties and the secret suspension of the Charter that Bill 51 allows?

            A niqab does not a terrorist make – despite your delusions. You are conflating two separate things.

            As for the niqab itself: I do understand how some non-Muslims see it as a deliberate insult. If someone comes here to be Canadian, why deliberately hold yourself apart from the society you claim to want to be a part of? I can’t say I truly understand it (though not convinced insult is necessarily intended) – but then again, I haven’t had the chance to get a first-hand explanation.

            But whether you or I understand it or like it is beside the point. We have a Charter guarantee of freedom of religion and expression. Thus the wearing of the niqab is protected. To overturn that protection for one group simply because we don’t like something about them is a dangerous thing – because if we do it once, whose rights do we strip next? Yours? Mine?

            That’s quite the slippery slope my friend. Ethnic cleansing; slavery; death camps. All on the down-slope. And Harper seems awfully eager, these days, to slap on the skis.

            And you seem eager to race him to the bottom.

          • Gayle wrote:
            “Your best argument is always “if you don’t agree with me you must be stupid!”

            No gayle, I call you stupid….because you are stupid. I’m sure we could agree on some points, but you would still be overall…stupid.

            Otherwise, and I know this is too fine a point for a bigot to understand, it is blatantly obvious that only a small percentage of Muslims engage in this conduct.

            Gayle, what is a small percentage over over 1 BILLION people? this small percentage, is still rampaging across the middle east…and just took out another 130 + fellow muslims.

            gayle’s idiocy continues
            “Some Christians took it upon themselves to murder doctors who performed abortions. Should we therefore condemn them all?

            yep..those damn christians killing doctors….in the news every day. they’ve wiped out thousands so far jsut in the last few months…er..wait a minute?

          • Keith wrote:

            “James, the single biggest terrorist act committed against Canadians was the Air India attack”

            I was fully expecting that to be brought up. yes, it was a terrorist act, and it was the Sikh’s who did it…….but what have they done since then?

            have they been in the news every day for the last 10 years with a repeat peformance? Nope…only Islam is brought up every day in conjunction with religious violence. Nice try though…but your attempt at deflection is show how weak your argument is every time someone turns on the news to see the latest atrocity.

            Keith goes full moon-bat:

            “That’s quite the slippery slope my friend. Ethnic cleansing; slavery; death camps. All on the down-slope. And Harper seems awfully eager, these days, to slap on the skis. ”

            ok keith, you have just guaranteed than anyone with two brains cells to rub together will see that you are completely over the edge. Your harper derangement syndrome is beyond repair.

          • Heh. James called me stupid.

            Ha ha ha ha ha

      • Well, from the Milgram experiment to internet comment boards we see that anonymity encourages anti-social behaviour.

        When I have a fender bender with a niqab wearing driver can I, as a lay citizen, insist that she remove the niqab so that I can verify that the driver is in fact the person identified in the proffered driver’s license?

        As a small business owner I have security cams set up to record the faces of people entering my store, so as to deter hold ups. Can I bar entry to someone whose attire defeats my measures, rendering me vulnerable to robbery?

  10. I am so fed up with having someone with whom I agree on scarcely anything, state firmly that “most Canadians agree that….” whatever Harper feels like finishing that sentence with. He does not speak for me, or for a majority of Canadians. I wish he’d take responsibility for the crap that issues from his mouth and not keep loading it onto Canadians.
    Anyone who has taken and passed the citizenship test and has identified him or herself to authorities, has the right to wear whatever they wish on their head.

    • Ruth,

      People are not FORCED to become Canadian citizens. It is not a RIGHT to be a Canadian unless you were born here.

      If you invited someone to stay at your house and they started to make demands for changes in how you manage your home, would you not also start asking yourself why you invited them in in the first place?

      • Sigh. The people who changed the oath taking ceremony were the conservatives.

  11. A guy wearing a niqab has just followed your daughter into a public washroom.

  12. Religious wear in public creates separation rather than inclusion; lays the ground work for social problems which are evident worldwide. Given Muslims have a choice why would they choose to set themselves apart from mainstream society?