14

For the record: 500 women leaders call for respect in niqab debate

‘We ask all leaders and public figures in the country to refrain from allowing the issue of the niqab to create an atmosphere of intolerance’


 
Zunera Ishaq talks to reporters outside the Federal Court of Appeal after her case was heard on whether she can wear a niqab while taking her citizenship oath, in Ottawa on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. (PATRICK DOYLE/CP)

Zunera Ishaq talks to reporters outside the Federal Court of Appeal after her case was heard on whether she can wear a niqab while taking her citizenship oath, in Ottawa on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. (PATRICK DOYLE/CP)

Adrienne Clarkson, Louise Arbour, Monia Mazigh and Sally Armstrong are among 500 women leaders to sign the “Respect Women Statement” which calls for understanding and respect in the niqab debate.

“We believe that freedom of religion and freedom of expression include the freedom to dress in accordance with an individual’s religious views or personal preferences,” Louise Arbour says on the group’s website, respectthewomen.ca.

For the record, here is their letter:

We are women leaders from across the country, with different backgrounds, life experiences and political views. We are united in our commitment to the Canadian values of equality, freedom, and justice. And we believe in a Canada that embraces all women, regardless of how they dress or how they express their religious beliefs. 

We are deeply troubled by the divisive national discussion about women and the niqab. We believe it undermines important rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, and deepens the inequality faced by many women in the country. And we believe this debate is drawing attention away from urgent and pressing issues affecting women and girls across Canada.

Whatever our own feelings are with respect to the niqab, democracy based in individual rights requires us to be respectful:  in order to have our own rights respected we must respect the rights of others. We believe that freedom of religion and freedom of expression include the freedom to dress in accordance with our religious views or personal preferences. And we believe that the path to equality lies in embracing and understanding difference, not in stereotyping and marginalizing women of any faith or any religious practice. 

It troubles us that the current focus on the few instances of women wanting to wear a niqab during their citizenship ceremony has divided Canadians and stigmatized Muslim women. We are alarmed that this appears to have incited discrimination, and even violence, which undermine equality and respect for human rights and ignore the greater issues facing women in Canada.

As women leaders we are concerned about the high levels of violence faced by women and girls in Canada, and in particular the high rates of violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls. We are worried about the economic insecurity facing many women as we age in Canada.  We are disturbed that women, on average, are not earning at the same level as their male colleagues. And we are troubled at the lack of investment in women’s empowerment and leadership across this great country. It is time to set aside the issue of the niqab and move to the issues that impact the daily lives of most women and girls in Canada. 

We ask all leaders and public figures in the country to refrain from allowing the issue of the niqab to create an atmosphere of intolerance and xenophobia in this country.

We want to see a commitment to promoting equality that is grounded in talking with women, not for women. Let’s have that discussion.


 

For the record: 500 women leaders call for respect in niqab debate

  1. The article states “women leaders”. It is unfortunate that they (whoever they are) did not combine their petition to include men, specifically, Muslim men. There appears to be 500 names on the list (if there is a list) and they are all “leaders”. I recognized two names, and should be happy to see the other 498 names, not to mention Emily, of course.

    P.S. In my opinion, no petition has much worth until a similar petition appears signed by 500 Muslim men.

    • I find your comments extremely insulting. You have an audacity to ask us to bend more, when we the (over 80% of) Canadians are bend already to pretzel. That is still not enough for you. You want us to bend even more and show even more respect… Are you serious? Don’t you think it should be Zunera Ishag to show a little respect to us? We were told that niqab to the Muslim women is not an issue, but as soon she is require to remove the face cover, suddenly it becomes an huge issue. I wish to poit out that we have no issue with hijab. Just for your information I quote from a certain paper: Zunera Ishag has ties to radical Muslim organization and volunteers for a radical association linked to the pro-Taliban terrorist group/political party Jamaat-e-Islami. She is an organizer with the Islamic Center of North America, she’s even hosted a ICNA meeting at her house What a Canadian, eh? Zunera Ishag wouldn’t talk to the Journal de Montreal when they asked her to comment, but why would she when every other media outlet in Canada is her cheerleader?

      • “You have the audacity to ask us to…”

        You’ve got it ass-backwards. Nobody is asking you to do anything.

      • No kidding, the left in our society has truly shown their colors on this topic, there is no reason for the niqab other than hiding a woman’s face from strange men, that is it and on that basis it should be banned from our country, but I will be fine with allowing it in their place of residence or mosque but that is it.

        • Hopefully if reelected Harper can create an new federal commission that examines everything in our lives, determines it’s purpose, then bans those things which have no purpose other than something-or-other that Conservatives don’t like.

        • BTW, there’s no reason for that donkey, other than making you look like an ass-holder, and on that basis it should be banned from our country.

  2. So, there’s a lot of commotion with the whole face covering thing. I think the only real issue I have is if some are given rights others don’t enjoy.

  3. Presumably, these same people should be recognizing the right of a young woman who went for a picture of her drivers’ licence in Quebec wearing a vegetable strainer and advising that it she was compelled by her religion as a member of The Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster, but was refused.
    Progressive Muslims have warned repeatedly that the niqab does not have any basis in Islam.
    It is a tribal symbol of islamists who employ it for their own purposes to impose their politics (nee religion) on the rest of society.
    The politically-correct have been so easy to manipulate

    • Believing that people have fundamental freedoms has nothing to do with being “politically-correct”. That would more appropriately apply to those who want to tell others what they can wear.

  4. Muslim women have no choice when they are born into Islam.
    How many rights do they have compared to Muslim men…..especially their Muslim husband.
    What would happen to them if they tried to leave the Islamic faith ?
    At least in Canada women are treated much better than in virtually all Islamic countries.

    As a proud Canadian that respects women’s rights I do not want to see any part of Islamic culture or Sharia law replace what we have fought so hard over the past couple centuries to have here in this country.

  5. Zunera Ishaq is employed by the ICNA Sisters, a branch of the ICNA and listed as a member of Jamaat-e-Islami.

    Among the guests at the ICNA affiliated Al Falah Institute (“liked” by Zunera Ishaq) has been Khalid Yasin, who says AIDS was created in America and used by Christian missionaries to infect Africans.

    ISNA had its charitable status revoked by the Canada Revenue Agency for funding Jamaat-e-Islami, because it is recognized as an officially designated terrorist entity by our government.

Sign in to comment.