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Veils: who are we to judge?

Why the debate over the veil is much more complicated than you think


 
Who are we to judge?

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No item of female apparel summons more attention, animosity, debate or censure in Western society than the veil covering Muslim women. That’s saying something in a culture inured to the sight of sweatpants with “Juicy” on the backside, Abercrombie & Fitch’s padded “push-up” swimsuit tops for eight-year-old girls, and women teetering on skyscraper porno heels as hobbling as the “chopines” worn by 16th-century Venetian prostitutes.

Governments are racing to restrict the veil in its various declensions: hijab, chador, abaya, niqab, burka. France and Belgium banned face-and-body concealing burkas and niqabs last year; similar legislation is in the works in other European countries, echoing campaigns to rid cityscapes of minarets. Last June, Muslim women were singled out by FIFA, the world soccer body, which banned players from wearing Islamic headdresses on the grounds they could cause a “choking injury.” The Canadian federal government drew its first line in the sand last month when Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced a ban on face veils during the swearing-in of the citizenship oath. Quebec’s Bill 94, which would deny essential public services to women in niqabs in the name of “public security, communication and identification,” is wending through the legislature.

So what’s really going on here? Why are women many see as subjugated the ones being censured? Part of what’s driving this is the visceral response a veiled face summons in the West: it’s a mystery and a threat. Unless you’re a surgeon, a goalie, a bride or a belly dancer, masking one’s face is anti-social, a prelude to robbing a bank or attending a Ku Klux Klan meeting. Faces confer identity, legally and socially. Covering them can signal Darth Vader menace. It’s dehumanizing.

A covered or veiled woman summons more complex associations, given that female emancipation in the West focused on bodily autonomy and was mirrored in fashion trends—beginning with Coco Chanel, who believed women should share the same liberties as men and replaced restrictive corsets and long skirts with jersey dresses, knits and pants. Instructing a woman to cover up to preserve sexual modesty and prevent lustful thoughts is viewed as archaic and misogynistic—harking back to the Victorians hiding curvy table legs or the kind of dystopian theocracy depicted in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The “liberated” woman eschews modesty; any instructive to preserve it is code for oppression, as seen in global “SlutWalks” protesting “victim-blaming” after a Toronto police officer suggested women could avoid sexual assault if they stopped dressing “like sluts.”

Western women may be shackled by clothing and customs—six-inch stilettos, Brazilian waxing, cosmetic surgery, the imperative to be thin—but that’s seen to be their choice, their self-expression within a culture that often conflates female empowerment with female sexuality. A veiled Muslim woman is therefore even more freighted, thought to represent a second-class citizen deprived of identity and isolated from public life, a trapped victim of “gender apartheid,” as witnessed by the horrific acid attack on Afghani schoolgirls who abjured the offensive burka.

Yet we didn’t always see it that way. In the 1990s, the niqab, the veil that leaves only eyes exposed, was exotic, a marketing ploy: Loblaw put a photograph of a woman wearing one on the box for its “Memories of Marrakech” couscous. The “otherness” of a veiled Muslim could occasionally inflame bigotry, as seen in 1994 when female high school students in Montreal were expelled for wearing the hijab; the head scarf worn to preserve modesty was deemed an “ostentatious symbol.” But the burka was off the political radar, with the exception of feminist groups that protested the repression of women in fundamentalist Islamic nations, particularly Afghanistan, where Taliban rule in 1994 torched advances made by women.

Then came 9/11, and the burka was hijacked as a handy accessory for the emerging “war on terror.” The week after the twin towers fell, The Economist sent out a “free trial offer” mailer recycling a February 2000 cover of a woman in a niqab below the line: “Can Islam and Democracy Mix?” The image was sultry, destined to boost subscriptions, even if linking a veiled woman with all of Islam was below the magazine’s usual intellectual rigour. Not all Muslim women wear face-covering veils; many Muslims oppose the practice. The Quran, an enlightened text regarding gender equality, enforces no dress code; “hijab,” or cover, refers to the curtain that separates man and the world from God, not to clothing. Men and women are only called to “lower their gaze and guard their modesty.” Nor are Muslim nations in sync on veiling, which has come to represent an oppression-meter of sorts—from Afghanistan, where women faced a mandatory burka law punishable by death, to Tunisia and Turkey, where burkas are banned in schools and government buildings.

Turkish-born sociologist Necla Kelek dismisses the idea that the burka has anything to do with religion or religious freedoms, but rather represents an ideology whereby “women in public don’t have the right to be human.” France’s Fadéla Amara views the garment as a form of religious obscurantism, “a kind of tomb for women.” In her 2004 book, The Trouble with Islam, Irshad Manji rejects any notion of “spiritual submission” to the veil, calling adherence “closer to cultural capitulation”: “To cover my face because ‘that’s what I’m supposed to do’ is nothing short of brand victory for desert Arabs, whose style has become the most trusted symbol of how to package yourself as a Muslim woman.”

Yet as a symbol, the “desert Arab” packaging of women offered powerful visual shorthand for the indeterminate “war on terror.” It was harnessed to garner support for the invasion of Afghanistan, where the road to female freedom was measured in media reports in terms of women’s access to lipstick and beauty salons. Then the burka was tied to Islamic terrorism itself, linking the “war on terror” with a “war on Islam”: video footage that appeared to show one of the failed July 2005 London bombers wearing a niqab implanted fear that the garment posed a national security threat. That risk migrated to Muslim immigrants’ seeming unwillingness to conform to European and American mores. Even global cultural juggernaut Disney, whose 1992 Aladdin came under fire for promoting racist Arabic stereotypes, joined the hijab jihad last year, telling more than one Magic Kingdom employee that they were “not part of the Disney look.”

We can only await the Disneyfication of the burka, which has acquired near magical powers in its ability to turn right-wing politicians into situational feminists. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the garment “a debasement” of women that rendered them “prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social contact, deprived of all identity,” ignoring the fact that his ban would closet these women in their homes. As British writer Myriam Francois-Cerrah, a Muslim, puts it: “[Governments] have a funny idea of liberation: criminalizing women in order to free them.”

Sheema Khan, author of Of Hockey and Hijab: Reflections of a Canadian Muslim Woman, likens the paranoia over female veiling to another trumped-up distraction: “These new WMDs (women in Muslim dress) seem to evoke the same fear as those other WMDs (weapons of mass destruction),” she writes. Khan, who wears the hijab, sees a cultural disconnect over the female body and its display: “Muslim women value their bodies, they simply don’t believe in flashing skin.”

In their covering and attempt to disappear from the public sphere, veiled women have acquired paradoxical power in a society that pays attention to women for what they’re not wearing: as the most visible of visible minorities, they’re a measure of multiculturalism’s limits. And as a graphic reminder of the world’s fastest-growing religion, they test how much religious observation and cultural defiance we’re willing to accommodate—and accept.

Jason Kenney described a covered face as “un-Canadian” when announcing the new citizenship ruling: “Allowing a group to hide their faces while they are becoming members of our community is counter to Canada’s commitment to openness, equality and social cohesion,” he said. The minister admitted he found it “frankly, bizarre” that women had been allowed to veil their faces. Some 81 per cent of Canadians agreed with the veto, according to a Forum Research poll, which raises questions as to whether we’ll see similar rulings in other public spaces; Muslim women’s right to veil their faces while giving testimony is currently being challenged.

Canadian political scientist and Middle East scholar Katherine Bullock predicted that Muslim women would become “the visible link between Western power politics and an anti-veil discourse in the West,” in her 2002 book, Rethinking Muslim Women and the Veil. The University of Toronto professor, a convert to Islam since 1994, wears the hijab. She was prescient: Sarkozy’s targeting of the Muslim minority is viewed by many as a pander to voters on the extreme right.

Bullock challenges the common view that the veil is oppressive and degrading. While she acknowledges the horrific violation of women’s rights in Islamic states, she writes that these must be addressed by the courts, and that a woman’s right to wear the veil should be separate from other human rights issues. That argument is a hard sell in the West, where high-profile murders of Muslim girls and women are associated with their rejection of the veil in “honour killings,” the odious term that segregates extreme domestic violence: Aqsa Parvez, the 16-year-old Mississauga, Ont., girl who was murdered in 2007 by her father and brother for refusing to wear the veil, and the ongoing Shafia trial in Kingston, Ont., in which a husband, wife and son are accused of murdering three teenage girls and a first wife. At that trial an expert prosecution witness overtly raised the connection when speaking of Muslim mores: “A woman’s body is considered to be the repository of family honour,” he said.

That any woman would willingly wear an “ambulatory prison,” as Christine St-Pierre, Quebec’s minister for the status of women, has called the niqab, is a mystery in a culture focused on the exposed female body and the distorted “body image” resulting from artificial Photoshopped standards. Amid “Does this burka make me look fat?” jokes, female Western journalists took the garments out for test drives, reporting back that they were confining, isolating and even elicited hostility, which is predictable. Veiled Muslim women have become doubly dehumanized in the West—by the veil itself and incendiary responses to what it’s seen to represent—which makes them vulnerable to the kind of violent Islamophobic attacks seen in France.

Yet the defiance expressed by hijab and burka wearers confounds the stereotype that they are submissive and lack will. Disney’s hijab ban has been successfully challenged. Last September, Hind Ahmas and Najate Nait Ali made headlines when they were fined for disobeying the French burka ban.

Inscrutable and complex, the veil is a code that can’t readily be cracked. Many women are veiled against their will, it is true, yet many others choose it. The idea that the veil could represent an assertion of identity, defined by daily connection and devotion to God, is alien for many in a secular culture. Liberal ideas of equality and liberty, which distinguish want from need, trump other ways of looking at the topic, says Middle Eastern historian Christina Michelmore, a professor at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Pa.: “A lot of women want to wear it because they have to,” she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2001. “It was a commandment, and I would obey,” Bullock writes. That’s a mindset alien in the West, Michelmore observes: “For many Americans, cultural restraints on individual behaviour automatically look like oppression. I think that’s a very American look at the world. For lots of cultures, communal standards aren’t seen as inhibiting individual freedoms.”

Women wear the veil as a rejection of Western values, Michelmore notes: “They see it as part of their identity, as separate from this globalized McDonald’s world.” Many of the veil’s most vocal proponents, ironically, are Western women who’ve converted to Islam, among them Tony Blair’s sister-in-law, Lauren Booth, German broadcaster Kristiane Backer, author of the 2009 book From MTV To Mecca, and Yvonne Ridley, of Islam Channel TV. Ridley extols the veil as offering freedom from Western sexism—the male gaze that renders a woman “invisible” after a certain age and undue judgment of women based on their appearance: “What is more liberating: being judged on the length of your skirt and the size of your surgically enhanced breasts, or being judged on your character and intelligence?” she asks. Yet to frame the debate as an either-or duality between two cultures is to ignore the continuity that exists. There’s synchronicity in the burka being stigmatized at the same time female display in the West has geared into cartoonish, hyper-sexualization—the mainstreaming of the stripper aesthetic, the creepy Toddlers and Tiaras commodification of girls, and billboards like Estée Lauder’s: “Beautiful gives her daughter something to look forward to.” A new study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism reveals women are increasingly under-represented and overly sexualized in top movies: they’re far more likely to be seen in “sexy” clothing (25.8 per cent, compared to men at 4.7 per cent) and to be partially naked (23.6 per cent compared to 7.4 per cent). Yet the barbaric repression of women in fundamentalist Islamic nations—stoning for adultery, being denied the vote and access to education—renders complaints about continuing gender inequities in the West trivial by comparison, when, in fact, they are all extremes on a vast continuum.

Legislating what women wear under the guise of freedom is a worrisome portent, one Human Rights Watch calls a “lose-lose situation”: “[Burka bans] violate the rights of those who choose to wear the veil and do nothing to help those who are compelled to do so,” Judith Sunderland, a senior researcher with the group, said last April.

Art allows an exploration of the ambiguities that politics cannot. Canadian photographer Lana Slezic captured a fearful complexity in her famous portrait of Lt.-Col. Malali Kakar, Afghanistan’s most senior female police officer, who was murdered by the Taliban in 2008. Taken in profile, the image shows Kakar shrouded in a half burka, holding a handgun, her fingernails painted bright red. The image of the Afghan police officer working to emancipate Afghan women wearing a symbol of oppression upends the assumption that an unseen woman can’t yield power. Last week, Michelle Risinger, an NGO worker, blogged on GenderAcrossBorders.com about a successful uprising in Kabul by women disguised by their burkas; it forced her to redefine the garment “from a symbol of repression to a means of protection, and even the sustainment of women’s empowerment activities.”

Parisian guerrilla artist “Princess Hijab” explores the power of the veil in her work, using a black marker to “hijabize” and “niqabize” billboards to subvert consumer imagery and push cultural boundaries. “The niqab is very powerful, not just religiously,” the artist told Al Jazeera in 2010: “It has been used in fairy tales, it’s part of the collective memory, a symbol of religious observance, mourning and death.” The veil doesn’t belong to a single religious or ethnic group, she points out: “It’s an empowering piece of clothing but it also can be frightening.”

Exiled Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat, known for her “Women of Allah” series, similarly creates haunting, powerful images of veiled women, some with guns, their bodies superimposed with Farsi poetry. “Western culture generally tends to mystify women behind a veil,” Neshat told hEyOkA magazine: “It seems ironic but true that the more a female body is covered, the more desirable it becomes. Therefore much of the credit goes to the phenomena behind Islamic culture that by controlling female sexuality, it ironically heightens the notions of temptation, desire and eroticism.”

That would explain the bizarre spectre of the increasing sexual fetishization of the burka in the West. In 2003, rapper Lil’ Kim appeared in a half-burka, naked below, on a magazine cover. In 2009, Mattel endorsed a “Burka Barbie.” The pneumatic plastic doll, once banned in Iran as a threat to “morality,” was outfitted in lime-green and Day-Glo orange “burkas” and auctioned off at Sotheby’s for Save the Children. A few months ago, Kim Kardashian, of sex tape infamy, pranced around in a burka in Dubai. Paparazzi swarmed. It was defiant, outrageous, more shocking than nudity. And anyone who sees it as cultural progress hasn’t been paying attention.


 
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Veils: who are we to judge?

  1. To me, it is not a question of individual rights or freedoms.  This is a simple request by a government and a country that the person be visible to obtain the rights and freedoms this country offers.  Simply, remove the veil, take the oath of citizenship (and the loyalty that it commands) and then go about your daily life in which you can wear the veil in public and at home.  I give my personal information on my passport and driver’s license…nothing bad had come of that.  You can spray paint your face flourescent pink, for all I care.  But you will have to remove it if you want to take the oath of citizenship.

    • So this: http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSps26yZcrngzKh-NRaJiVoWqxT3SAlvysyQcl8WfgP88rbQ2PMVw is fine? What about this: http://a3.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/22/1aaeec03fe8f4019b76a9aaf535f2b51/l.jpg

      If the concern is identity, make the legislation that all people must be recognizable as who they say they are.

      Otherwise, when you outlaw a particular mode of dress, without taking any steps to ensure identity is otherwise attainable, you’re simply being oppressive against whoever wants to wear that mode of dress.

    • Having lived in the Middle East, I think the main point is that for Canada to accept the covering of one group of religious followers’ faces means that our society is accepting the philosophy behind it, the notion that if a woman does not cover herself, her femininity, her attractive face, it is her fault if men ‘want her’ and cannot control themselves (no-fault assault).  While some Muslim women do this because of their interpretation of the Koran, many do it because the men in their society label them as ‘loose women’ and ‘bad Muslims’ for not covering up.  That’s a pretty powerful tool to fight against, being labelled a ‘slut’ and ‘societal failure’ everyday. 

      The reality is that just a few decades ago (a generation who are in their 60’s now) there was virtually no face covering going on.  Before oil made the entire nations in the Arab States wealthy enough to quit being nomadic camel herders, there was far too much work to be done to cover up all the time.  This is a new invention of some Imams who want to be known for making new proclamations — even MORE conservative interpretations of the Koran.  

      Like the work that Catholic Bishops are doing behind the scenes to give themselves the semblance of power and an excuse to mingle with high rollers (http://justonecynicsopinion.blogspot.com/2012/01/men-rule-women-get-short-end-of-stick.html), when we go along with whatever some control-obesessed males have cooked up under the guise of religion just to be politically correct/sensitive, we are actually opening the door to much more radicalization. 

      Many new Canadians, having come from totally repressed, censored countries, revel in their ‘rights’ once they become citizens here, to protest being offended by everything they come across — it’s like being a kid in a candy store, and they snicker at the way the rest of their fellow Canadians rush to apologize and acquiesce.  This ‘multicultural melting pot’ that P.E. Trudeau began has gone out of control, to the point where Canada is losing any clear heritage.  It’s being whitewashed to avoid offending newcomers.

      Net-net, this face-covering thing is (in most of the Arab world) a new invention, not a consistent thing stretching back millenia.  For Canada to roll over on it would be a violation of our core values, that men and women are equal.  Wear what you like, but when it comes to hiding your identity, you should be required to expose yourself to ANY person who asks you to do so, everywhere in our free country.

      • Kevin, I would suggest doing more research. The Hijab/Niqab is not a new invention spurred on by ultra conservative imams, or a different interpretation of the Quran. This was infact, something that was reveald during the time of prophet Mohamed over 1400 years ago. Even outside islam, women from many different cultures and religons would dress very modestly. Mother Teresa for example.

        There is no such thing as ” no-fault assault” in any society. If a women chooses not to wear the Hijab/Niqab and is assaulted beacuase of it, then the perpetrator would be prosecuted. Women are asked in islam to be modest in their apperance, and to stay away from form fitting clothing.

        Have you spoken to any muslim women wearing a Hijab/Niqab? Many of them would tell you that feel secure in knowing they are being stared or being judged. They would feel comfortable leaving home without it. Yes, sadly some women are forced to wear it…. although there is no islam jurisprudence that makes wearing the hijab/Niqab enforceable.

        Should we ban clothing, simply because a small segment of people abuse it to subjugate others? Why dont we ban the “A” shirt/undershirt, commonly reffered to as a “wifebeater”. Hmmmmmm………i wonder it got that name?

        lets ban the “wifebeater” it clearly has a demeaning and dehumanizing name, it is commonly worn by wifebeater’s (hence the name) and is a symbol of transgression and oppression to women in america. Im being sarcastic here, but the point is it dosent make sense to ban articles of clothing.

        Lets not forget the broader cultural divide. In the middle east they wash their feet in the sink *gasp* barbarians! or offering something with your left hand which is considered to be rude. Just because it’s odd to you, dosent mean that it’s wrong.

        I understand that you would rather have you mother’s, daughters, sisters and wives prance around naked. But some cultures hace respect for their women and they dont “rate them out of 10”.

        In what world should any human being “expose” themselves to anyone who asks. If someone were to ask my name i have the right not to tell them. If i dont want someone seeing my face, i have that right as well. Thieves! what about those dirty thieves!!! I dont see women using the Niqab to go on robberies.

        “Net-net, this face covering thing” is not a new invention, it stretches back hundreds of years, accross different religons and cultures. It is rooted in religon and as a way of life for many. if you can’t come to terms with that, than it simply makes you an intolerant individual, unable to cope with something they do not understand.

        • Khalid, I know that most Muslim men are quite fair and modern thinking. However I’m very tired of seeing certain cocky Muslim men walking around each summer with UNCOVERED heads and SHORT SLEEVED shirts while their oppressed wives must scurry behind them with their entire body AND face covered in heavy polyester black cloth. I know very well those women would rather not have to wear such uncomfortable clothing and be stared at all the time because they stick out, they look quite pathetic and they know other women and men are pitying them, however they know they’ll be beaten and maybe killed by male relatives if they don’t cover up. The obvious message these abusive men are sending to their wives and the Canadian public is that they have total control, their female relatives can never do what they want if the man disagrees with it. Khalid, you seem to think political correctness will keep Canadian society from protecting Muslim women. Sorry, but your women are allowed by law to do whatever they want in Canada and we will all fight to ensure they know that.

          • Hey… so i came across your comment and i really didn’t want to reply because I may sound rude but I felt the need to clear this up so I will ask in advance that please do forgive me if this comes across as rude, thats not the intention.

            So, when you say “I know very well those women would rather not have to wear such
            uncomfortable clothing and be stared at all the time because they stick
            out”… this makes me think more of the “western woman” rather than the Muslim “veiled” woman… the one wearing “uncomfortable clothing” and being started at isn’t the one with a “burka/abaya” (The long loose ‘dress’), infact the one in the uncomfortable clothing is the one whose wearing skin tight jeans that she can’t breathe in, and a shirt shes constantly pulling down to make it reach her waist…or the girl who’s unsure as to how she should climb the stairs in her short skirt incase there are people behind her… and I’d realy like to mention that being “stared at” is not the case.. a Muslim woman is not being “started at” (no matter how many people are staring)… she’s being identified as who she is; a Muslim woman. And I don’t mean that in an arrogant way that ‘o shes Muslim not like the “canadian”‘… because in many cases, the identity is the “Canadian Muslim Woman”, the one who is not conformed to societal changes of dress/fashion, not a product of her society, rather she is free to dress according to her beliefs… and really when you make a statement like that, please be aware that you are not the spokesperson for all Muslim women.. yes there may be some women who are being forced by their radical families who choose to oppress them rather then teach them the religion because they know that if Muslim women are aware of the religion, they will realize all the rights that they have and some/many families who choose to be more “cultural” than religious don’t want to have to fulfill their rights.

            And secondly.. “The obvious message these abusive men are sending to their wives and the Canadian public is that they have total control”… this reminds me of a research done in the US… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtzIcz7MOkc i highly reccomend watching this… when “the young men were shown images of immodestly dressed women, the part of their brain which reccognizes tools lit up” and the part of their brain that reccognizes people and their feelings shut down.. they responded to the images as if they were objects rather than people… and when they see women in bikinis, they associate the images in first person, seeing themselves in control, and seeing the modest women, they see her in control… so as for the men being in control.. like i said earlier, that comes only from culture, not Islam…

            And lastly, ” we will all fight to ensure they know that”… so if you plan on letting Muslim women know that they can do whatever they want.. why the big deal in letting them wear the niqab?… all of a sudden she cant do what she wants? and im not referring to the oaths.. the niqab was banned in France, banned in Quebec, what did our government or even you for that matter do to show women that yes you really can wear what you want.. it seems to me that society is more supportive/ willing to allow women to “wear whatever they want” when the woman is half/or more naked on the ramp or on a magazine cover or on tv on an ad that has nothing to do with woman… but she’s there just so those people can make a profit off her body because all the men watching the image just shut down their brains so all they see is an attractive object… bbt what happens to all these feminists and human rights activists when it comes to fighting for a Muslim womans right to cover herself?

            so thats about it.. and as i said in the beginning, this wasnt meant to be offensive, but I am really sick and tired of people thinking that “Muslim” women are oppressed.. mayb women from certain culture are oppressed, but the Muslim woman is certainly not!

          • I like your thinking, Zaynab, especially the last paragraph. :)

          • i am a muslim women and i wear niqab, and i am not oppressed.

          • Thank you Zaynab for your just reply from the viewpoint of a Moslem woman. I myself converted to Islam neatly 20 years ago. While living in a Moslem country, I chose to wear the veil, hijab. I found it comfortable and convenient , but that’s not why I wore it.
            I don’t wear it here in Canada, because I feel so visible, and I don’t like the attention. Maybe I am a coward, but I feel, w’aalahu alum , that it’s quite proper for me.
            Canadian women have it all wrong, they slob it up at home , sloppy and no makeup,and they dress up and make themselves attractive outside the home. A Moslem woman grooms to go out with her conservative or demure dress , and saves the made up attractive version of herself for her home and her husband. There is an incredible amount of fashion and sexuality in the way women interact and it’s a shame that people think that it’s a dehumanizayion

          • I would just like to point out that muslim MEN are not required to cover their heads…..were not jewish. And there is nothing in islam that prohibts a man from short sleeves shirts. Muslim men are required to grow their beards.

            I understand you concern with the mistreatment of women, but you have to seperate culture from religon. The majority of these cases of women being abused are from the south-asian regions. Regions where bridal abuse (For the dowry) is rampant. Something which islam forbids. Also, where a widowed women is looked down upon, something islam also forbids.

            Look at West african muslims, do you see cases of Honor killings? why? because its not a part of their culture!!! people do crazy things, we all know this, but dont throw a blanket an blame it all on islam. look at the teachings of islam and these concerns you have will be cleared. it is not a religous issue, but rather a cultural one.

            These “moderate and fair muslim men”, are simply following the real teachings of islam

          • Coordinated attacks claimed by a radical Islamist sect killed at least 143
            people in north Nigeria’s largest city, a hospital official said on Saturday, as
            gunfire still echoed around some areas of the city.
            Just copied the above from the internet news…..nothing new.  Is Nigeria West Africa?  it appears to be in the West.  So I guess maybe this is part of their culture.  143 dead people and their relatives would say it is.

          • Vancouver777. Of course, anyone has the right to do as they please…as long as they are not infringing on the rights of others.

            Who’s rights are these women infringing on? You’re under the assumption that all Hijab/Niqab women are forced to wear it. Why dont you hear it first hand from them.

            Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ44EcSZFv8
            Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdDSsox-GFs&feature=related
            And Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeX9lM4vqcM&feature=related

            Take it from the women themselves, see what they have to say.

            I dont like to argue, but you have to be sincere when looking for truth. Never assume anything, and see the things with unbiased view.

            Thanks, 

        • It was revealed even earlier. Genesis 38:15. Your sharmutas should take note.

          • This discussion is not about judaisim, I was simply pointing out that jews are required to cover their heads and not muslims. Copy everything the jews do? complete nonsense, but once again were not discussing jews.

            I have no idea what Takiya is……i see you are already stereotyping who i am.

            Genesis 38:15 has no bearing in this discussion, this is not a cross religion discussion. Although, if you want to go that route i can certainly show how untterly useless that comment was.

          • Well, you’ve already shown us how utterly useless all your comments are. But don’t let any of us kaffir stop you from shooting your mouth off.

          • Gary, you bring absoluely zero constructive comments for any part of this discussion.

             Trolls are meant to stay under bridges, not on the internet.

        • “I understand that you would rather have you mother’s, daughters, sisters and wives prance around naked”  

          You reveal your colors finally, after a lengthy write-up.   You assume much and generalize way too much.  Now you must choose between a FREE STATE and a POLICE STATE.  Let`s analyse, shall we?

          Which region of the world has been most helpful to other regions?  As much as the other regions love to hate it.  It`s the West, silly!   

          China and other third world countries are FILTHY RICH because of the prosperity and negligence of the West!  Prosperity gained by its FREE STATE social and economic policies, negligence because of crony capitalism bred by stupidity and indifference in the general population.  That`s right!  There are way too many stupid people in the west…  being indifferent makes you stupid, stupid!

          Agreed that the lefties have gone way out of hand but PLEASE consider this;    It is because of the west and its societal and economic freedoms that the world has made advancements in all fronts technological medicinal etc.   

          Please enlighten us what the middle east with its repressive regimes has contributed.   What good to the rest of the world has that oil income generated?  As much as the residents of the region “dislike” the west for interfering in the region you need to realize that had the US not involved itself most people there would now be speaking either RUSSIAN or MANDARIN.  That`s right, if China had its way with the region they`d have relocated enough of its population to overwhelm the region youd all be speaking a Chinese dialect by now!    Pity the fools… THERE WAS NO BETTER ALTERNATIVE!   Tell me, which imperialistic nation would you rather be affiliated with?  USA, China, or Russia?   The region is rich in resources badly needed around the world.   There is no way that foreign imperialist powerhouses would have just disregarded the region!  Its just the way it is…  now please tell me again,  you think the region would have been better off in Chinese hands!?   Russain?  

          • First off, the comment of “Prancing around naked” was obviously a sarcastic comment, hence the use of the word “Prancing”

            Second, all you talk about is politics of the country…..i do not care about politics. what im talking about here is religon, do you think these countries are following islam? if you do, then you are sady mistaken.

            Yes, many beneficial things have come from the “west”, but im not here hating on the “west” or the “east” (Bloodz and Cripz Yo)

          • “Which region of the world has been most helpful to other regions? As much as the other regions love to hate it. It`s the West, silly!”
            No, not really. The CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) had a huge contribution from many chinese workers. In fact, most of the portion built in west (in BC) was constructed by the chinese. The few Europeans that helped were paid nearly double the amount the Chinese got, even though the Chinese were the ones doing the dangerous work. Those who got killed were no even recognized and thier famillies (who were not allowed to come over from China) were rarely notified.
            As early as World War 1 there were some Sikh soliders in the Canadian army, and even more in the British Army.
            “China and other third world countries are FILTHY RICH because of the prosperity and negligence of the West!”
            China and other third world countries aren’t “filthy rich” as you put it. have you ever been there? have you seen the faces of little 6-7 years old wandering the streets, knocking on car windows to beg for money, starving. on the other hand you have canada and the US where kids are in danger or obeisity, where the percentage of homeless is much, much, much less.
            “It is because of the west and its societal and economic freedoms that the world has made advancements in all fronts technological medicinal etc”
            it is safe to say that those advancements, regardless of which field you refer to, would not be possible without math. the number 0 was first used in India, trigonometry was largely developed in india (in the 4-5th century), then in the islamic regions, then China, until it finally reached Europe in 1342
            honestly, if you’re so keen on critisizing other religions and countries, at least do your research.

        • From Kevin: Indeed, Khalid, I was writing too quickly and I apologize.  Not at all a ‘modern invention’, my point was that the strict adherence the niqab/burka (covering the face) is relatively new as the practice was impractical years ago when women were far more active in moving the family around.  But that distracts from the central issue we are both addressing, that ALL ancient religious documents were written at a very different time than today.  The Koran speaks often of slavery, but Muslims don’t use that as a justification for keeping slaves in Canada (though there are still many in the Middle East). 

          My point is that the notion that it is not the fault of men if they are irresistibly attracted to women is both ancient, unfair and frankly offensive to men (what, we are incapable of self-control?).  Being modest is actually written into ALL the ancient texts and is a laudable moray for humans in general, I believe.  Covering the hair or not wearing form-fitting clothes are NOT at issue, covering the face is.  Maybe the idea had a place in the lawless and isolates conditions thousands of years ago (and still does today in some countries in the Middle East and elsewhere?), in Canada today it does not. 

          The issue is cultural, not religious, and Canada’s culture is modern, open and egalitarian, meaning that one sex does not have to worry about what members of the other sex are going to do to them for simply being themselves.  Using snippets from religious texts as a lever to press for the acceptance of foreign cultural traditions (which have changed over time and circumstances) is not quite right.

          To quote my blog post on the subject:

          “This is Canada in the 21st century.  It’s not your fault you’re
          beautiful, it is mine if I decide to attack you.  Cover your hair if you
          like the symbolism, but you don’t have to fear being attacked or ostracized for
          having the freedom from male repression to be seen for who you are in
          this country.  You are not a slut for not veiling your face, you’re a
          modern Canadian citizen, be proud of that.”

          The risk anywhere in the world, at any time in history, has always been the ‘hijacking’ of any set of ‘rules/morals’ by a few individuals with psyco/socio-pathic tendencies (rape, tossing acid, fire-bombing churches and girls’ schools, murdering their own daughters).  In the ancient world the religious texts originally were a cultural tool to gang-up on the wackos and ostracize/banish them, to guide the people to be kind and sanitary, etc. In a modern society like Canada, we have well-paid (less corrupt) police, courts and each other to protect ourselves against the nut jobs who cannot control their impulses.  Today the wackos in many countries are using religious ‘moral guidelines’ as though they are commandments from God to wreak havoc upon their fellow citizens.  Balance and the gradual ‘softening’ of the original guidelines is what is necessary as the rule of law becomes effective in more and more countries in the world.

          In Canada there is no reason for women to hide their faces or bodies for fear of random men attacking them, we have the societal safeguards in place, so here the issue becomes quite the reverse — those hiding their identities are both a potential threat to the rest of us (like the guy in the ski mask at the bank) and are advertising the idea that they do not believe our culture/country can protect them from male assault.  This is not a country in which we should tolerate this flagrant non-acceptance of the reality of Canadian quality of life.

          http://justonecynicsopinion.blogspot.com/2012/01/is-no-fault-assault-going-to-be-ok-in.html

        • Ever been to an Islamic country?  It’s not “no-fault assualt”, but where I live in Abu Dhabi, if I get raped, hijab or no hijab, I’m going to jail.  No question about that.  I will be forced to provide the evidence against my rapist which will also condemn me as an adulteress.  So who the hell cares how far it stretches back, Islam is busted, bro, and women are the victims.

          • Ever been to Canada? Yes, thats the country in discussion here! The only country I live and the only country whose law I’m concerned with

      • Kevin, I would suggest doing more research. The Hijab/Niqab is not a new invention spurred on by ultra conservative imams, or a different interpretation of the Quran. This was infact, something that was reveald during the time of prophet Mohamed over 1400 years ago. Even outside islam, women from many different cultures and religons would dress very modestly. Mother Teresa for example.

        There is no such thing as ” no-fault assault” in any society. If a women chooses not to wear the Hijab/Niqab and is assaulted beacuase of it, then the perpetrator would be prosecuted. Women are asked in islam to be modest in their apperance, and to stay away from form fitting clothing.

        Have you spoken to any muslim women wearing a Hijab/Niqab? Many of them would tell you that feel secure in knowing they are being stared or being judged. They would feel comfortable leaving home without it. Yes, sadly some women are forced to wear it…. although there is no islam jurisprudence that makes wearing the hijab/Niqab enforceable.

        Should we ban clothing, simply because a small segment of people abuse it to subjugate others? Why dont we ban the “A” shirt/undershirt, commonly reffered to as a “wifebeater”. Hmmmmmm………i wonder it got that name?

        lets ban the “wifebeater” it clearly has a demeaning and dehumanizing name, it is commonly worn by wifebeater’s (hence the name) and is a symbol of transgression and oppression to women in america. Im being sarcastic here, but the point is it dosent make sense to ban articles of clothing.

        Lets not forget the broader cultural divide. In the middle east they wash their feet in the sink *gasp* barbarians! or offering something with your left hand which is considered to be rude. Just because it’s odd to you, dosent mean that it’s wrong.

        I understand that you would rather have you mother’s, daughters, sisters and wives prance around naked. But some cultures hace respect for their women and they dont “rate them out of 10”.

        In what world should any human being “expose” themselves to anyone who asks. If someone were to ask my name i have the right not to tell them. If i dont want someone seeing my face, i have that right as well. Thieves! what about those dirty thieves!!! I dont see women using the Niqab to go on robberies.

        “Net-net, this face covering thing” is not a new invention, it stretches back hundreds of years, accross different religons and cultures. It is rooted in religon and as a way of life for many. if you can’t come to terms with that, than it simply makes you an intolerant individual, unable to cope with something they do not understand.

        • “…than it simply makes you an intolerant individual, unable to cope with something they do not understand.”

          I like that statement. Especially coming from an individual who comes from a group that does not tolerate being scrutinized or questioned. Hypocrisy at its best.
              
          (Of course, I am only assuming you are one of those individuals and not someone expressing their false opinion under a false name.)

          • Firstly, if your not going to contribute to the discussion intellectually, then i suggest you keep silent.

            Secondly, you are simply attacking my character (of which you dont know) instead of coming with a contructive counter argument.

            Scrutinize and question all you want, just please use acutal facts when discussing topics. I presented facts in my post….but i cant say the same for you.

          • Really? name calling? As always, when no coherent rebettul can be made…you must resort to name calling.

            Must i repeat my above post to you as well?

          • khalid,

            unfortunately what we see are these high profile honor killings, such as the the three women found in a Kingston lock submerged in water, killed by the father and son. why? you worry about name calling; we worry about how some more fundamental muslims, and apparently not just men, will undermine the law to kill there own family to restore honor and pride. 
            if we did not have such stringent security at the airports, then having women remove their veils would not be an issue. but some fundamental muslims ruined this for all muslims, didn’t they?
            muslims want to leave a muslim country and live in Canada and are welcome to do so. to become a Canadian citizen, what is the big deal to show your face briefly during a very special swearing in ceremony? unless the fear a women experiences is so great. but fear of what? the husband? of Allah? of society?
            i lived in the middle east for two years and I went with a huge open mind as a typical Canadian. well the muslim world really changed my views of the world, trust me.
            so you carry on writing your eloquent explanations and so on. im not buying.

    • But it’s not a request. It’s an order.  And it’s an order that conflicts with freedom of religion in a country that claims to value it.

      • You are confusing the facts, this is not the religion.

        • The Supreme Court decided differently in a case called Aselem, I am afraid.

    • I urge you to contemplate over what you have just said. “Simply, remove the veil….” Sir/Madam, its like saying to me “simply cut out your heart, take the oath…” I have never resisted showing my identity wherever and whenever the law requires. This ban, however is not about showing my identity rather taking it away and i will object to it, in the manner the constitution of my country allows me to.

    • “It is NOT a question of individual RIGHTS and FREEDOMS […it] is a simple request by a government and country that the person be visible to obtain the RIGHTS and FREEDOMS this country offers.” Wow, you are in contradiction, Stupid.

  2. I was going to say – don’t worry i’m sure the “free”market will come up with some way to sexualize the burka,  before i got to your last para.

    LOL…Burka barbies and push up bras for eight year olds…my lord we are one sick society.

  3. It also complicates the application of facial recognition software, likely the real reason behind the push to eliminate it by governments. Big brother wants our facial print on file.

  4. I think it will be the end of days before life becomes simple for women.

    The day that women themselves free themselves of their own contraints will be the day resolutions will be made on issues such as these.

    I wish women could all live as simply as children live, without the daily crushing weight that society, and perhaps even nature itself, has foist upon them.

    • Ask yourself if the things you wish for will be more likely or less likely, if we keep admitting immigrants from 3rd world nations where severe oppression of women is the norm.

      • I agree. This is something that worries me a lot. I am a feminist at heart. If we are attracting third world oppressed immigrants, we are also importing their beliefs and attitudes. Everything women have fought for and won during the 20th century can and will be lost if this continues. Some of these immigrants refuse to learn our language and adapt to our open culture. They wish to bring their beliefs and impose them here in Canada, within their own communities, but in a broader context if possible. We have not noticed this as a society yet. I hope, since I am middle aged and less inclined to protest, that our younger generations will continue to resist extremes and allow the freedoms some have fought so hard to obtain. Let us hope radical and fundamentalist cultures and religions do not get to design the 21st century. 

        • Who are “They”, were all human beings.

          Dont forget, who the real Canadians are, the natives who were living peacefully until european colonists invaded and decimated their way of life, robbed them of their culture and imposed their own european culture on them.

  5. Who are we to judge?  We’re the Canadian people that’s who and if we don’t like ths filthy imposition from a monstrous 3rd world culture, we don’t have to accept it.  The other problems facing women in the Western world mentioned in the article are legitimate but don’t try to convince me that those are worse than being forced to wear a portable prison at all times.  Certainly don’t try to convince me that that Canadian women will somehow be better off if we bow to Radical Islam and start normalizing this hideous garment in our society.  By the way, letting in thousands of new immigrants every year from Radical Islamic nations means that they will soon be able to make any laws they want through force of numbers.  Even if they can’t change the laws at a national level, they will be able to impose de facto Shariah law in the neighbourhoods where they predominate.  In the notorious majority-Muslim suburbs of Paris, for example, a woman of any religion who dares to walk the streets unveiled can expect to be pelted with rocks.  This is the wonderful “multiculturalism” we are encouraged to strive for?

    • Fixed it for you:
      “Who are we to judge? We’re rednecked bigots who slobber and foam at the mouth when we see anybody different from us…”

      • Who are we to judge? We are the rednecked who are not willing to accept the whole world as one, ignorants, uneducated people, pethitic personalities, envy people, and ego people.

        • Another dhimmi bulb!  A few more like you and al-Qaeda will have no trouble taking over Canada!  Why can’t Canadians be more open minded like the good folks in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia and so forth?  They’re so open minded and welcoming to newcomers, especially agressive newcomers that would move in and demand that they change their laws. 

        • So you made your jugement

      • Aren’t you a good little dhimmi bulb!

    • Stop judging islam by what u see in the media. Before u comment think about what u are saying. People think that if you wear a burqa or a niqab, you are oppressed. This is not true. Many muslim women choose to wear it through their own freewill and by depriving them of the right to dress in whatever way they wish, the government is doing them no good. People have the right to wear whatever they wish and no one can stop them. I for one will not change my wardrobe because of what people think

      •  Is there a country on this earth where Muslims aren’t causing some kind of problem?

        • Is there a country on this earth where Men/Women aren’t causeing some kind of problem?… why do we hold on to the one group and forget all others? Islam is being attacked/sterotyped the same way African Americans were attacked/stereotyped not too long ago, and still are today. If a ‘white’ man commits a crime, its on a coloumn on the side of the newspaper… if a ‘black’ man commits the same crime, he’s front page news for the week… same way as now if a non-Muslim/Christain/Jew/hindu/etc commit a crime, they’re 5 pages in to the newspaper, but if a Muslim does the same, he’s front page headlines for months! why? because we label and discriminate.

        • How about the trouble being caused by the West in practically every single Muslim country? You can’t expecet the Muslims to be humble servants when they are being oppressed by the West. When some bad Muslims attack and kill innocent people on 9/11, America (NATO, European Union, etc.) sets off and invades the Muslim countries and kills (and is still) innocent Muslims in the millions and no one has anything to say. The innocent Muslims killed while chasing Bin Laden from Iraq to Pakistan were considered war casualties, but you don’t see Muslim countries or the Arab Union sending off its army to kill more innocents. The West has killed more innocent people in the name of peace and war against terror than those mindless terrorists have done in their own countries, against their own people. In Islam (which defines Muslims), it is considered a henious act to harm innocent people, even in the case of war, which sadly some Muslims ignore. Also, Muslims aren’t simply someone born in a Muslim household. You can’t be a Muslim if you aren’t following the teachings of the Islam, therefore to blame Muslims is wrong.

      • In Canada, you live by the CANADIAN RULES. You don’t like it return to wherever you came from. That is some serious rocket science, eh!? :-O

        • Eddie, I like your answer. I myself come from Egypt and I believe people immigrate to countries such as Canada for a reason. We don’t want to live in the same conditions we were in, so you either adapt or you go somewhere else. If you want to replicate the society you came from, maybe you shouldn’t have left it in the first place!

        • Yes why don’t you, I’m pretty sure you don.t know where you came from.

        • We will return to our countries when these western countries stop meddling in our countries’ affairs. Everyone knows why Iraq was invaded by US and its allies (oil interests). That invasion created a huge internal and external displacement of Iraqis. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Middle East countries, are all being controlled by western countries.

          Now, you may say that this is nowhere connected to this issue on hand. All these issues are interconnected. Terrorists hire new terrorists and legitimatize terrorist activitists by giving these same reasons that western countries are in Muslim lands, destroying their religion and culture. So Western countries calling back their troops will resolve a lot of issues themselves. It will also help the budget and economic situations of the western countries themselves, because then they will be then spending those billions of dollars on their own citizens.

          No one wants to uproot themselves and take their whole family in a new country and start their life all over again. How many Pakistani doctors and engineers who are working as taxicab drivers and labourers in North America would go back to Pakistani in a minute, if and when, foreign forces get out of Pakistan and foreign control stop controlling our puppet governments. After all, everyone is talking about Saudis and their antiquated laws against women, but Saudi kings and princes have the full support of western governments. 

          Latest news out of Afghanistan and Iraq are pretty much painting the same picture as a decade earlier. Women are still being tortured and violence against minorities and women are still prevalent in those countries. So a decade of military interventions in those countries apparently achieved nothing much but billions of dollars are spent in those countries. Who is suffering now: Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Canadians, Americans, European Union citizens etc. 

          Canadian Rules, on the other hand, are not the best rules in the world. They have several holes in them. However, Canadian Values are universal and respected. Canadian Value of Freedom is what immigrants value. Freedom of will entails that if a woman wants to wear veil, let her. The rule of taking off veil can be modified to say that a female law enforcement agent must be available for those women who needs to take off their veils for ID purposes or whatever else purposes. Then, women who oppose taking off their veils for ID purposes don’t have any defence.

          Best course of action in any situation is getting to the root cause of the opposition and modifying your rules enough to “disarm” the opposing idea. Usually, there are no or minor difference in the root cause.

          Btw, last but not least, western women, who are converting to Islam, are actually the ones supporting and wearing the veils. If they don’t like the Canadian Rules, then where should they go back to? 

          • Blame blame blame. That is all you are doing. If you look at the list of countries you presented, all have only ONE thing in common: a group of people who play victim wherever they go, always demanding  allowances for their ideas never accepting the society they want to move into, not accepting integration, not willing to adapt or conform. The problem did not start with the US or Europe. You seem quite capable of finding information you need so I am not going to waste time doing your search for you. Happy searching.

          • Aren’t you also simply blaming Muslims?

          • I agree with what you have said, Mosab. Very well said last paragraph.

             One thing I would like to say to Mr. Eddie is that they invaded the First Nations living in Canada, and didn’t follow their rules, rather, IMPOSED it on the people already here for decades.

      • People do not have the right to wear suicide vests or masks in public. Do judge Islam and all religion by what you see in the “media”– murder and war!

        Islam= “Submission” to “God”?–Who tells you what this “god” wants? Who tells you to submit?

        • Ummmmm……The Quran?

    • The problem with the West
      is the exact same problem with the “3rd World” countries/cultures.
      The problem is that instead of trying to understand the views of others, we
      take what we hear and deem it as right.

      (I apologize beforehand for
      going off topic, but it’s a slight necessity) When you see Muslims burning
      Western Flags, and rioting against the West, and calling the West terrorists,
      you have to understand that they aren’t living in a multi-cultural society like
      we do here. Rather, the most they get to see of the West are the planes that
      come in killing their kids, destroying their homes, and messing up their lives.
      Or else they see the foreign forces interfering in their personal affairs.
      Although, some of them do see that there are good and bad people from the West,
      the majority is unaware. All they know is that West = Destruction for us.

      The West, on the other
      hand, comes in contact with the Muslims because they are here, and you can see
      that there are good and bad. Yet, the West still (regardless of all its very
      “civilized era”) is ignorant enough to not understand that there are
      good and bad Muslims as well. I can’t help but become saddened when I hear
      strangers commenting on Islam, trying to tell me that Islam preaches terrorism,
      imprisons the women, enforces barbaric laws, etc.

      When you don’t know about
      what Islam really is, you don’t really have the right to talk about it on that
      basis. I can’t talk about other religions because I don’t know much about them
      (I might know a little, but not enough to hold an argument). Still, when I see
      people of different religions, or views, I try to understand them, not judge
      them on the basis of how they dress, look, or even act.

      If you were to sincerely
      read about Islam and what it really is, you’ll know that it is a religion of
      peace, AND it teaches to be tolerant of others regardless of what their views
      are, regardless of how different they are from you.

      The problem is that instead
      of trying to truly understand what Islam is, the West blindly believes in what
      it hears. I have no problem, as it shouldn’t be my business, if you understand
      Islam and say, “Wow, I really don’t agree with what it teaches.” Yet,
      if you are judging Islam or Muslims without thoroughly knowing what they stand
      for, you’re being as ignorant as the people (It’s not only Muslims who dislike
      the West) burning your flags. Their reason for hating you (meaning the West) is
      because you are trying to do exactly what you excuse them of doing: imposing
      their values, ideas, and views on them.

      Not
      all Muslims are evil, with their men with beards up to their stomachs, grenades
      hidden in their fat turbans, and a sword behind their back and their women
      hidden in “portable prisons at all times,” slaves of the men holding whips.
      That’s only the image we’ve been given. There are Muslims men with their beards
      up to their stomachs, with turbans around their heads, and flowers in their
      greeting hands, and women who are dressed in burkas, niqabs, hijabs or chadors
      and they are very gentle, caring and loving women.

      It
      was the Prophet, who told the ignorant Arabs at the time that God had forbidden
      them from burying their female daughters alive. The Prophet had four daughters,
      all whom he loved dearly. He had three sons, all of whom died in infancy. He
      taught us that women are to be equally treated. In Islam, it is the WOMEN who
      are given the most respect. Islam had called daughters a blessing; the sons
      don’t matter in the same way. The perspective that men are “better” than women
      isn’t an Islamic perspective; rather it is a third world perspective that sadly
      also exists in the Western society. Islam does not imprison women. The world
      imprisons women.

       A man came to the Prophet and said: O Messenger of Allah! Who from amongst mankind warrants
      the best companionship from me? He replied: “Your mother.” The man
      asked: Then who? So he replied:
      “Your mother.” The man then asked: Then who? So the Prophet
      replied again: “Your mother.” The man then asked: Then who? So he
      replied: “Then your father.” (Sahîh Bukhârî
      5971 and Sahîh Muslim 7/2)

      Your
      perception of Muslim women is not accurate. Just because some women are forced
      to wear them does not mean that all are. Almost all of my female relatives, and
      my mother wear a niqab, and each one of them does so by free will. If you were
      to ask them if they were “prisoners” behind their veils, they would very boldly
      tell you that they feel protected and feel greater freedom with the veil. I
      also have female relatives who go around in dresses where if it weren’t for
      their English, you would consider them white. You could very easily argue that
      just because mine do so doesn’t mean that all do so. I could give you at least
      two hundred names of women who wear the veil by free will. I could also give
      you several names of females dressed in hijab because their parents say that
      they must.

      Sadly,
      parents who force their children don’t make their children respect it and there
      is no point in doing it because Muslim women wear the hijab/niqab/burka/chador
      to please God, and if the children aren’t feeling the reasons for wearing it,
      it doesn’t make too much of a difference.

      My
      parents didn’t give me an option in wearing the hijab, but after I did and
      after I’ve understood the reason for hijab, you couldn’t give me the entire
      world to take off my hijab. Like my fellow Muslim Sisters, I’m not subjected to
      men’s will, but I have more freedom in my hijab.

      I
      don’t have to worry about guys liking me or not because I may look very
      hideous, I don’t have to worry on being objects of attraction and I most
      certainly don’t have to be subjected to men’s desires. I’m not judged on being
      the hottest girl in the world, instead, I’m judged on my character.

       Please don’t call the veil “a hideous
      garment” just because you don’t agree with it. As well, you aren’t to judge
      whether or not it is a “portable prison.” Let the women who wear that decide it
      for themselves. Otherwise, you are only contradicting your own societies
      statement “that men and women are equal” and “prisons.” The reason being that
      in that case you would be the one “defending” the Muslim women although she has
      not asked you, and imposing your view/perspective on her, therefore imprisoning
      her.

      Please
      try to understand Islam and then criticize it, especially because in that way
      your arguments will at least be stronger and more meaningful. I apologize if I
      have said anything wrong in this or hurt anyone.

  6. I’ll agree that this is a far more complicated issue than many people wish to admit.

    Personally though, I find the burkha creepy as hell.

    Maybe it’s psychological. I get the same feeling when I see someone wearing a ski mask downtown.

    At the very least the burkha is anti-social and communicates that intent very clearly.

    Not to mention that it can be used to opress and segregate.

    Maybe it’s wrong to make such things illegal, but you won’t change the fact that most people find it distasteful.

    At the end of the day I think most people find the hiding of one’s face a questionable practice in an open society premised on equality.

    • A burqa looks like a walking body bag. So many hardcore Salafis are repulsed by women, and hate seeing even their faces. Little wonder there are so many pederasts in those countries (Google “Bacha Bazi”+”Dancing Boys of Afghanistan” and puke).

      One of the most amazing things I witnessed were two ‘women’ (awfully tall ones) in niqabs, swapping the Interac pad out in the garden section of a large grocery store, here in Northwest Calgary. This really is a security issue.

    • That may be a psychological reaction but surely as intelligent capable humans we can see beyond it and realize that freedom of religion is more important than our gut feel?

      • As a Christian I am VERY pro-religious freedom.

        However, much evil can be done in the name of any form of ideology, and we can’t ignore that this is the case for religion as well. Evil will use what it can to profit itself, and if we fail to grasp the spirit of principle inherent in the lessons of Christ, then we are allowing that evil in through the back door.

        So as Jesus clearly points out again and again, religious dogma cannot be allowed as an excuse to do what is clearly wrong in the eyes of the spirit of principle.

        I’m sure the Taliban for example would argue that our entry into their country and insistence on installing our own form of government with its inherent rights and freedoms is an abuse of their religious freedom. And yet they have perpetrated great evil that cannot be allowed to stand in the name of religion.

        In kind, I will not accept various forms of slavery simply because it is given religious credence by some.

        • That’s an interesting response but it had little, if anything, to do with my reply. 

          • You suggested that our intelligent capabilities should always bring us to the conclusion that “freedom of religion is more important than our gut feel”.

            I disagree.

            To paraphrase my response: “Freedom of religion is a generalization that in and of itself doesn’t inherently have more or less importance than our “gut feel” which emanates from the totality of our experience and understanding of the fundamental principles of right and wrong.”

            Thus there are times when “gut feel” is a mechanism alerting us to deeper considerations.

            Our intelligent capabilities as humans therefore may very well and sensibly be stimulated by “gut feel” to analyze and sometimes come to the conclusion that “freedom of religion” is a cover for darker intentions and/or deeper problems with a practice or position.

            So while I do not believe anything is served by banning these garments, we cannot conclude that those proposing these laws don’t have a point, or that there is nothing inherently problematic in the proliferation of this “religious” practice in our society.

            It is only the rights and freedoms I believe in that have me siding with those against such bans, but unfortunately these garments are often used to deny precisely those rights and freedoms.

    • The question Phil is, ‘is it really about you?”  Sure, you find the burka and niqab distasteful.  No one is asking you to wear one.  Some people online express their distaste with same-sex marrige…no one is asking them to marry someone of their same sex.  I don’t understand how it is really OUR business.  I find the clothing that Hutterite women wear ‘distasteful” but it is their choice to belong to that group and wear that clothing.  As for wearing a balaclava in public…sheesh, it’s minus 38 degrees celcius here in Alberta, no respecting redneck is working outside with one!

      • Since you clearly missed my point, allow me to rephrase: I understand why people react strongly to the burkha. It comes not only with many negative connotations but is inherently anti-social. That doesn’t mean we should ban them, but we can’t ignore the fact that they exist primarily as a form of segregation.

        I can understand conservative dressing as a form of religious expression, but just as I cannot and will not accept other various forms of oppression, I cannot and will not ignore the obvious oppression the burkha represents, religious claims or no religious claims.

        Cover your entire body in black wool in the dead of summer for all I care, but if you insist on hiding your face in public, I will assume you are up to no good, or more correctly, that your intent is to segregate yourself, which brings up the question of whether that is of your own free will or not.

        • I guess some people use the human capacity for reason to see beyond their inherent animalistic fears, and others use it to justify them.  Interesting. 

          • People always have underlying reasons for what they do, and it is natural and normal for people to use their feelings to guide their reactions and interpretations of those reasons.

            What you call “animalistic fears” are evolutionary developments that have served an important purpose over millenia, and in many ways are no less relevant today.

            My “gut feel” is that the use of the burkha is as much driven by oppressive intentions in some groups as it is the oft cited “religious purity” intentions.

            I don’t believe we have the right to deny others this practise on this basis, but to ignore the darker underside simply on the basis of those rights seems foolish.

            I believe we should always be skeptical of practises that serve little actual purpose while also being a possible and historically well known source of oppression and segregation.

            I do agree that we shouldn’t base laws on this type of thinking, but just as I cannot see a pointy white hood and think anything positive, neither can I see a burkha and think anything positive.

  7. More like interpretation than being complicated for pro-burka types.

    “It seems ironic but true that the more a female body is covered, the more desirable it becomes. Therefore much of the credit goes to the phenomena behind Islamic culture that by controlling female sexuality, it ironically heightens the notions of temptation, desire and eroticism.”

    Good read is “Nine Parts of Desire, The Hidden World of Islamic Women”.  It is the woman’s fault if a man lusts after her.  It always seems to be the women’s fault in ‘shame/honour’ cultures.

    What about the ultra-orthodox jews in Israel and their treatment of women?

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,808252,00.html

    Headlines this past week “Canada haven for female foetus abortion in South Asian community” or BC mother and brother charged with murder of daughter in India”

    I don’t like the burka for what it represents and it annoys me that new-comers feel entitled to foist their customs on control of female sexuality on us.

    • A lot of supposedly ‘feminist,’ Western women find these ultraconservative religions–and their dress codes–appealing. I think there’s a simple reason for this: put both Wendy Cukier and Dianna Agron under loose-fitting burqas, and you can’t tell them apart–these forms of dress are equalisers. And replace ‘immodesty’ with ‘sexual-objectification,’ and religious conservative discourse sounds an awful lot like that of the radical feminists’. Mysogeny actually runs deep, with many of these ‘womyn,’ who still compete with their ‘sisters’ for the attention of men. Little wonder so many unattractive Western women manage to get snagged by visa-seeking Islamists (e.g. Mohamed Harkat). Also, many feminists are curiously silent over the gender-selective abortion issue, since two sacred cows (abortion and multiculturalism) are butting heads with ‘femicide.’ Sort of like the politically-correct denials over the Aqsa Parvez honour killing.

    • “I  don’t like the burka for what it represents and it annoys me that new-comers feel entitled to foist their customs on control of female sexuality on us.” Spectacularly inane statement. They’re covering themselves up, not asking you to — are they? Are they really “foisting” their burquas upon you, commanding you to wear them? No? Then how much of a bigot are you that the sight of them simply wearing the burquas “annoys” you, and makes  you think they’re entitled? They’re entitled because they’re wearing what they want, without clearing it with you first? 

      • I see it as a precursor to more entitled foisting like demanding female only services similar to the ultra-orthodox Jews who keep trying for male only public services as they cannot speak or be alone with a woman.  

  8. Canada is a Christian country, informed by late 20th Century feminist social norms. And there are serious security issues associated with head and face coverings. Notwithstanding forty years of post-Turdeauist multiculti propaganda, Canada has a host culture that is simply incompatible with Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, or Confucianism–whether it’s women’s rights, or a morbid fear of ghosts near hospices (re. the issue with Chinese condo owners in Vancouver). And everything from Muslim students wearing Bluetooth earsets under hijabs in exams (a VERY common occurrence), to veiled women (?) dodging security, to Sikh men refusing to wear safety helmets, or Sikh and Muslim men refusing to shave for respirator regulations, these multicultisms don’t belong here.

    If you want to wear a ‘Nifa Fifa’ veil, or a bag on your head, fine–just stay in your home country. Canadian citizenship is a privelage, and not a right: if you intend to settle in Canada, adhering to our social norms and dresscode–as well as learning at least one official language–are non-negotiable prices of admission.

    • Ducky, the problem is, that WE  are Them.  My Sikh neighbour, whose family arrived in this area in 1905, is just as much a Canadian me, whose family arrived in Canada in the 1840s on one side and in the 1920 on the other.  You are being presumptuous in thinking your version of a Canadian is the only one.  I’m against allowing face-covering in court etc. by the way.

    • Canada is a secular country, not a christian one.

      Your fear and paranoia is absurd.
       
      And Muslims have been here since at least confederation.

      • You’re right, Original Emily.  It’s just a big coincidence that non-Muslims are brutally oppressed in virtually all majority-Muslim countries.  To even notice such a thing is shear non-politically correct ignorance. I don’t know how many Muslims were here at Confederation but had they been anywhere close to a majority, we could expect the same combination of oppression and poverty that marks virtually all Islamic societies.

        • Well actually other religions are protected under the Koran.

          You’ve been wound up by rightwing nonsense.

          Most Muslim countries have oil…povery stricken they are not.

          Please stop being a dumb rube.

          • Yes, it’s true, followers of other religions have a limited right to live as second class citizens or “dhimmis”, a fate that awaits most Canadians in the near future if we don’t stop immigration.   Oil or no oil, most citizens in majority-Muslim countries live in poverty, under corrupt and brutal leaders.  Is it an act of dumb rubery to notice stuff like that?

          • Well, ‘dhimmis’ are what you are trying to make Muslims into….and yet they’re as Canadian as you are.

            We aren’t about to stop immigration….in fact we’ll bring in more people than ever….from all religions, cultures and ‘races’ so you might as well get used to it

            Lots of countries….nice christian countries… have lived, or continue to live under brutal leaders.

            Your party has told you to hate Muslims….so you do.

            Next week they could tell you to hate someone else….Hindus or Sikhs or trade unionists.

            And you will

            THAT is dumb rubery.

          • PS  ‘A dhimmī  is a non-Muslim subject of a state governed in accordance with sharia law. . Dhimma allows rights of residence in return for taxes.[2] According to scholars, Dhimmi’s have the same social responsibilities and rights as Muslims.[3][4] They are excused or excluded from specific duties assigned to Muslims, and otherwise equal under the laws of property, contract and obligation.[5]

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhimmi

            Wikipedia will be blacked out in 2 hours, so check it now.

    • And what if a Canadian becomes a muslim…..and wants to wear the niqab?

      • They can move to a majority-Muslim country much like the big hypocrite Cat Stevens failed to do. 

    • And what if a Canadian becomes a muslim…..and wants to wear the niqab?

    • And what if a Canadian becomes a muslim…..and wants to wear the niqab?

      • If a Canadian becomes a Muslim, and wants to live a 100% Islamic lifestyle, then he/she should move to a Muslim country where that stuff flies.

        In Canada, you live as a Canadian first.  I’m sick of freedom of religion being treated as the paramount of rights that trumps all others.

        Your religion is free to do whatever it wants, so long as it does not restrict freedoms, hurt people, force itself on others, and disrespect the mainstrem host culture that allows it to exist in its midst.

        I know in this PC age what I’m saying is radical, but the culture of borne-Canadians, as in white-Christian Canadians (of which I’m not part of, as I’m a practicing Jew) is just as important, and in ways, more important than the subcultures under it.

        Polite guests do not show contempt, disdain, and rejection to the host, while trying to change everything in the house they were not even invited into.

        When you’re in someone else’s house, you try to abide by their norms and values, otherwise go elsewhere.

        When Muslims bring their medieval baggage to Canada, that’s multiculturalism and that’s peachy.

        If a Canadian ever brought Canadian values to a Muslim country, that is imperialism and colonization, which is EVIL!!!   

    • just a question/comment…. and this is not relating to the burka/niqaab.. but as ur saying ” adhering to our social norms” … social noms change with time, some people aprove, others dont… and by people i dont mean Muslim/Non… i mean canadians themselves… take same-sex marriage for example… its become a “social norm”… yet some “Canadians” accept it and others oppose it.. where are you going to tell those who disagree to go?

      And by the way… “-just stay in your home country”? that one actually made me laugh.. because if ur not a native/aboriginal, this isnt ur “home country” either… no matter how many generations we’ve been in Canada for, we all came from some other “home land”… if not from the middle east/ asian sub-continent, then definately england/ireland/scotland/etc.. so please  be mindful of that when you tell someone to go to their “home land”… we’re all from different boats, but we’re on the same ship now… make the best of it

      -P.s, this is not meant to be offensive in any way, If i have sounded rude/arogant or have said something generally offensive, I apologize for that.

      • What’s your point? You arselifters haven’t changed since the 7th century.

  9. When I see the anti-muslim crap that fills up the comments on these kinds of stories, I am saddened and a bit fearful to think we have men like Jason Kenney in office who pander this kind of ugliness rather than seek to bring Canadians together in understanding underlying issues like freedom of religion :(

    • If you ever encountered a religion that believed in cannabalism, would you tolerate that under freedom of religion.

      The freedom of your fist ends at my nose; the same applies to religion.

      You don’t have a right to turn my Canada into a reflection of your bronze age fantasies.

      Islam is an imperialistic religion.  Whatever it sees, it wants; whatever you have, it seeks; whatever it does not control, it demands to dominate over.

      The issue of Canadianism is a nuissance to the Jihad and an insult to the future caliphate, which must be snuffed out.

      • You said Islam is an imperisalistic religion. What about the British imperialism of Canada and the current imperialsim being done by the West in the Middle East in the name of “War Against Terrorism?” I can’t say that Christianity is an imperialistic religion because some Chrisitains decide they want to expand their kingdom.

  10. I find Kingston’s statement that the Quran is “an enlightened text re: gender equality” questionable in light of the following excerpt from it:

    “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.” (Sura 4:34).

    There are a number of versions of the Quran, but there isn’t one that makes this verse any more palatable for a woman, Muslim or otherwise.  Even if they soften up the first insult (changing the statement that men are superior to women to read that men should protect women because they are physically less strong), they all encourage men to beat their wives into submission.  Mohammed is quoted as saying women are mentally deficient and should be beaten if they refuse to obey.

    Bear in mind that when a Muslim woman is raped, it is HER fault and she is punished harshly, even executed, for leading a man into sin.  No wonder many Muslim women want to stay covered up.  It’s like a coat of armour that protects them. 

    I think it’s sad that the Western world has gone to the opposite extreme and modesty has become a lost virtue.  I think it would be best if the Muslim and the Westerner BOTH shifted toward the middle and used some good old-fashioned common sense.

    • You speak sense.  I like that.

    • Mary Lou,
      You and others like you are just ignorant!!!

      “Bear in mind that when a Muslim woman is raped, it is HER fault and she
      is punished harshly, even executed, for leading a man into sin.” 

      Where did you get that from?

      Men and women are punished equally if they are found to have comMitted adultery which can be proven by 4 EYE WITNESSES!!!

      That’s just one example and I can give you many more.

      Can you show me a place or religion where MEN and WOMEN are treated equally, 100%, All the time?

      I don’t think these women have an issue with governments requirement to show face WHEN NEEDED! It could be during an oath ceremony, voting, witness stand, etc. Just bring along a female officer, employee or clerk and problem solved.

      What argument can you draw up against that?

  11. I find Kingston’s statement that the Quran is “an enlightened text re: gender equality” questionable in light of the following excerpt from it:

    “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.” (Sura 4:34).

    There are a number of versions of the Quran, but there isn’t one that makes this verse any more palatable for a woman, Muslim or otherwise.  Even if they soften up the first insult (changing the statement that men are superior to women to read that men should protect women because they are physically less strong), they all encourage men to beat their wives into submission.  Mohammed is quoted as saying women are mentally deficient and should be beaten if they refuse to obey.

    Bear in mind that when a Muslim woman is raped, it is HER fault and she is punished harshly, even executed, for leading a man into sin.  No wonder many Muslim women want to stay covered up.  It’s like a coat of armour that protects them. 

    I think it’s sad that the Western world has gone to the opposite extreme and modesty has become a lost virtue.  I think it would be best if the Muslim and the Westerner BOTH shifted toward the middle and used some good old-fashioned common sense.

  12. I find Kingston’s statement that the Quran is “an enlightened text re: gender equality” questionable in light of the following excerpt from it: “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.” (Sura 4:34). There are a number of versions of the Quran, but there isn’t one that makes this verse any more palatable for a woman, Muslim or otherwise.  Even if they soften up the first insult (changing the statement that men are superior to women to read that men should protect women because they are physically less strong), they all encourage men to beat their wives into submission.  Mohammed is quoted as saying women are mentally deficient and should be beaten if they refuse to obey their husbands. Bear in mind that, according to Muslim law, when a woman is raped, it is HER fault and she is punished for leading a man into sin.  In some cases, that punishment is death.  No wonder many Muslim women want to stay covered up.  It’s like a coat of armour that protects them.   I think it’s sad that the Western world has gone to the opposite extreme and modesty has become a lost virtue.  I think it would be best if the Muslim and the Westerner BOTH shifted toward the middle and used some good old-fashioned common sense.

  13. I find Kingston’s statement that the Quran is “an enlightened text re: gender equality” questionable in light of the following excerpt from it: “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.” (Sura 4:34). There are a number of versions of the Quran, but there isn’t one that makes this verse any more palatable for a woman, Muslim or otherwise.  Even if they soften up the first insult (changing the statement that men are superior to women to read that men should protect women because they are physically less strong), they all encourage men to beat their wives into submission.  Mohammed is quoted as saying women are mentally deficient and should be beaten if they refuse to obey their husbands. Bear in mind that, according to Muslim law, when a woman is raped, it is HER fault and she is punished for leading a man into sin.  In some cases, that punishment is death.  No wonder many Muslim women want to stay covered up.  It’s like a coat of armour that protects them.   I think it’s sad that the Western world has gone to the opposite extreme and modesty has become a lost virtue.  I think it would be best if the Muslim and the Westerner BOTH shifted toward the middle and used some good old-fashioned common sense.

  14. I find Kingston’s statement that the Quran is “an enlightened text re: gender equality” questionable in light of the following excerpt from it: “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.” (Sura 4:34). There are a number of versions of the Quran, but there isn’t one that makes this verse any more palatable for a woman, Muslim or otherwise.  Even if they soften up the first insult (changing the statement that men are superior to women to read that men should protect women because they are physically less strong), they all encourage men to beat their wives into submission.  Mohammed is quoted as saying women are mentally deficient and should be beaten if they refuse to obey their husbands. Bear in mind that, according to Muslim law, when a woman is sexually assaulted, it is HER fault and she is punished for leading a man into sin.  In some cases, that punishment is death.  No wonder many Muslim women want to stay covered up.  It’s like a coat of armour that protects them.   I think it’s sad that the Western world has gone to the opposite extreme and modesty has become a lost virtue.  I think it would be best if the Muslim and the Westerner BOTH shifted toward the middle and used some good old-fashioned common sense.

  15. A covered face to me has nothing to do with religion or with women protesting artificial standards of “beauty”.  It’s all about the responsibility that accompanies the astonishing freedoms we have in an open democratic society.  Being disguised on the street is one freedom too many, “black block” anarchists be damned.

    I cannot trust any person, male or female, who walks in public wearing a ski mask, bandanna or any other facial covering. 

    We’ve managed to do quite enough to confound police in keeping criminal behaviour in check.  To permit people to be about disguised (off the ski hill, anyhow), is another wretched excess in today’s society. 

    • OMG!  Obviously you have never had to wait for the bus or walk any distance in the balmy -40 degree celcius weather we are experiencing in Alberta right now.  Unless you want your facial flesh to freeze, you are wearing a ski mask (balaclava).  It is a Canadian winter reality.  I suggest maybe you move somewhere warmer and less tolerant because I cannot see any way that it will EVER be against the law for children and adults to cover their faces in the winter in Canada.

      • Ah, but I bet if anyone wearing a ski mask were asked to remove it to verify their identity they would do so.

        I don’t agree with a ban, but I do think there are times when it is reasonable to expect them to reveal their faces to prove identity,

        • Not only is it reasonable, its required. I myself have never had any issues voting or at security checks because the security personel are nice enough tht if there is a female among them, she does the identification process, and if thts not an option, thn the male personnel do it. And its never an issue because the purpose is identification not ‘o let me c wat u really look like’ or w.e…
          And thts understood. I dont know of anyone in niqaab who is unreasonable at such occasions, but if there are such women, thn they should be corrected, definately but in a respectful manner.

          • Great reply!

            KeithBram is now speechless!

  16. Islamic societies are contrasted with Western “hypersexualized” ones. However, the Islamic worldview sees women’s sexuality as something undesirable, a source of chaos that threatens the social order. This is because women allegedly exert a supernatural power and cause men to lose control. Women are trouble, and their sexuality even more so. In a survey, eighty-five percent of Cairo women said they have been harassed and a large percentage of men surveyed admitted to harassing women. The burqa and other forms of isolating women are used to protect men from women’s sexuality, so the West is not the only society that is “hypersexualized” — Muslim societies are awash in sexuality, but in a different form. Manifestations of this appear in the hyper-obsession with women’s virginity, and of course, in the famous 72 virgins awaiting (male) believers in paradise.

  17. Actually I think it’s just as simple as it looks:  if a woman wants to wear a veil, that’s her decision.  And if she doesn’t, that’s equally her decision.  In neither case is my opinion, Jason Kenney’s opinion, or Anne Kingston’s opinion relevant.

    On the subject of modesty (since the author brings it up), the author appears to have the typical modern warped view of the matter which comes from reading a lot of feminist literature about the past and not a lot of classical literature actually written in the past.

    The traditional understanding is not that modesty is a sign of female subjugation, but rather is an act of generosity which women can (if they so choose) make toward men.  Helps us think more clearly in general and not regard women as pieces of meat.  Granted, women don’t have to do this on our behalf (the shortcoming, after all, is ours – not theirs), but it’s appreciated when they do.  Also, a woman who shows such consideration demonstrates that she’s not interested in being viewed as a piece of meat, which is a clear sign of her own self-respect as well as her consideration for our failings.

    • I am flabbergast at your last two paragraphs but I am in total agreement with your first one.
      Feminism is all about women’s right to self-determination.  How can denying a woman the right to wear a veil in public be a victory for feminism.  It is simply another form of oppression under the guise of an arrogant assumption that we know better than they do how much they are suffering by wearing the veil.

      • What a ridiculous statement. Of course we have the right to judge and the responsiblity to do so. What do you think the quest for equality was about. We judged that our place in society should be equal to men. We refused to accept the subjugation of women in the workplace in schools and at home in a modern democratic society – that was all about judgement. To sugarcoat the public subjugation of women is an abdication of responsibility to those women and others like them.

        • You are assuming that a woman is forced to wear a veil in public….what if it is her choice to do so.  You are going to bully her into abandoning her choice so she can appear to be “winning the war in equality” when in fact she actually being oppressed by her female brethern?  Well, hallaleuh!  Mo, you truely have become a man!  You aren’t married to a woman and you are already telling one what to do. 

          • these women are raised to believe that they are not equal to men.  They are brainwashed from birth to walk behind men, and bow to their wishes because that is the right and modest way to behave.  These people will never be equal until they can accept that their women have the same rights and freedoms as their men.  Until they remove the veil and ACT equal, they obviously aren’t.

  18. A question?In Canada If a burqa clad women driving a car is pulled over by a cop, and refuses to remove the veil for identification what are the rights of the cop. Can the cop arrest the person for not complying with law?

    • This is canada if people do not want to follow our customs then they should go back to whatever country will that will let them do as they please.

      • I disagree with your point of view.If we talk of Canada as a tolerant and diverse society ,made up of people from all parts of the world then it is also necessary to accept these people as they are.I am a Muslim immigrant and I do not remember reading or signing anywhere in my immigration documents that I would not be practicing Canadian customs if I was going to wear a head scarf!!

    • Some states in Australia now have laws that the police have the right to view the woman’s face for identification if she is breaking the law.  It was in reaction to a case where a woman pressed false charges against a policeman who pulled her over for a traffic violation.  Fortunately the whole incident was caught on camera.

      “Muslim woman Carnita Matthews escapes jail by remaining behind her burqa”

      http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/judge-could-not-be-sure-who-was-behind-the-veil/story-fn7x8me2-1226078801032

    • Removing the veil for something such as identification is allowed and depending on the occasion, allowed. If she is pulled over or in any situation where she needs to be identified, she must do so.Remov

    • Depending on the occasion, required**

  19. The main issue I have with this comment still lies in the fact that many women are forced to wear these veils in an attempt to not be scorned by their community or locked in their homes. We as a country need to define how we believe our society should interact and live and in the case of Canada, a balance is required to allow a multicultural society to flourish.

    Realistically, lets face it…this issue does have many different factors that affect it. The biggest being the subjugation of women within our society to either dress with little to nothing on or cover up to the point where they lose the freedom to create their own identity. I strongly believe that people should be allowed to dress as they wish and create their identity hence forth. Yes, society will often scorn what they view as different, but in this country we call home, it should not be considered illegal unless it undermines an important right or the safety of another party. The veil or covering of the entire face to me is the best example showing the rights of others being infringed.

    If a women is now unable to leave the house because a law makes covering ones face totally illegal, we should not be looking at the law with scorn, we should be asking if said women is in need of other services in order to help her. If this women’s husband for example is restricting her from leaving the house due a lack of veil, or worse beating her because of it…the situation changes from the veil to a woman in need of help from domestic abuse.

    Unfortunately, in this situation no one will ever truly find a winning side. Women have been placed under a lot of pressure from our society, but luckily we live in a society where a lot of this pressure is indirect. We do not have someone constantly telling a women to wear nothing into public or put on a ton of make up, yes the media does not help the situation, but a woman if free to choose whether she wants to wear that dress or walk around naked.

    In other countries, women are beaten, stoned to death and overtly harassed for not abiding by laws that men have mainly imposed DIRECTLY on them.

    The real question we should be asking is whether Canada wishes to mimic these actions and put aside our own free laws within society in an attempt of completing some form of Arab affirmative action or whether we are going to put our foot down and make a clear and understood definition of how our society will continue on and accommodate people from diverse backgrounds. The burqa like other religious or cultural or even consumer based items are simply a symptom to a problem our country faces and that problem is a single identity to define us as a nation to the world. This is an issue, but I would rather have this issue then face some of the outstanding issues other countries are currently dealing with. Let people wear what they want and live freely, but draw a line where we can form a balance and continue to define how our society continues on.

    Walking around naked would grant me a ton of looks and a nice hefty fine and in and of itself is a form of extreme action. Many view the burqa as an equally extreme action, so why should it be wrong to impose a ban or fine on someone wearing it? If our society defines this form of clothing as an indecent act that can have repercussions on a single group or in the example used…the image of women within society, then why can we not treat this issue like we treat pornography?

    Some food for though to add to this well written article.

    • Actually, we don’t need to impose and define how society should live.  If someone, as you fear, is being locked in their home against their will, we have laws.  As for heaping scorn upon others, or not talking to anyone outside of your own faith, it might be rude or un-neighbourly but there just ain’t no law against it.

  20. “Why the debate over the veil is much more complicated than you think”—When a headline insults me as I browse for news, I don’t read the article. MacLeans articles are stupid. (You are welcome!)

  21. There’s absolutely nothing more petty bourgeois than a privileged, white, western feminist apologizing for misogyny .
    Annie would be screaming blue murder from the feminist parapets if she could tag this cultural practice to western society. She’d certainly have her crotch less panties in a twist ~!?!   

  22. No one in this country can cover their faces in public without problems. This has to do with identity and nothing to do with religion. This has to do with the protection of our society. If women choose to cover their faces that is their perogative but not in CANADA. They can go back to their homeland where it is an acceptable thing to do.

    • That is absolutely untrue!  Without exception people in Canada wear scarves over their faces in cold weather when they are outside “in public” and it has NEVER CAUSED PROBLEMS.  Their identities are obscured and this HAS NEVER BEEN AN ISSUE.  Where do you live that people don’t wrap scarves in our cold weather?  I would love to visit this balmy Canadian locale. 

      • I haven’t even felt it necessary to put a HAT on this winter in Toronto, but that’s not your point of course, lol.

        • Hey, I heard you guys just got dumped on….are you experiencing the minus 40 degree temperatures we are in Alberta?  We have had one week of this delightful weather!  It is ski-mask and scarf city here….hahahah.  Haven’t since any niqabs though.

          • Not remotely “dumped on”, I wouldn’t say, not here in the East end of the city anyway. A couple of centimetres (less than 5 for SURE). The issue was that while it was coming down there were big flakes and it was pretty blowy, so visibility and driving were treacherous for a while this afternoon. It’s clear now though, and you can still see grass poking through in places where the wind kept accumulation down.

            And nowhere NEAR minus 40. It’s minus 5 right now (7:00, minus 11 with the windchill) about as cold as it’s been all day today. The overnight low is only supposed to get to minus 11. Our high in Scarborough will supposedly be back to +5 degrees by Monday (low of minus 1) and the 14 day forecast has us up to +8 degrees on February 1st, with the coldest daytime low after this weekend only being minus 3. It’s been a weirdly mild winter here (probably why people were so surprised to see cold and a little snow today).

  23. I want to see the face of the person I am dealing with.  Don’t care about religion or whatever.  The whole face is important.  Hair can be covered, I don’t care.  But face — have to see.

    • And I want everyone to ride a pony.  Just won’t talk to you unless you are riding one of those cute little horsies.

      Isn’t it sad that neither of us can make everyone do what we want?   

    • Then leave Canada cause our faces are covered outside in winter due to cold weather.

      • Don’t know about you but if it’s that cold I won’t be spending much time chatting. ;-)

        • It has been minus 38 all week.  Everyone here is wearing scarves and ski masks.  Funny how I never even considered that to be an issue (a person covering their face).  Now I am shocked at Canadians’ outrage when it is so commonly practiced here and has never been an issue. 

      • Confusing creature comfort with ideological zealotry what a dhimmi ~!?!

        • So you admit it is not that you are “uncomfortable” not being able to see a person’s face, it is what the veil represents (“ideological zealotry”) that has she so fired up.  I am glad we cleared that up because many people on here are claiming that people just should not go around with their faces covered and given that we live in a winter country, I see a whole lot of people with their faces covered.  I am glad to establish that it isn’t a security issue but rather religious and social bigotry.

          • ! The dance of the seven veils !
            You are comparing cover for simple { innocuous } creature comfort with cover as a socio-political  ideological phenomenon { the I’m holier than thou battle, the whole nine yards of radicalism , the pearl in it’s oyster} .
            You’re  daffier { and just as hapless } as a duck stuck on a frozen Canadian pond.
            Calling me a bigot, now now , gutter flattery will get you no where………. XOXOXO ~!?!

          • What about wearing sun glasses and ball caps….very common in Canada….is that covering up for “simple innocuous creature comfort’?  It is just a Canadian habit and no one gives a crap that it makes it impossible to make eye contact or difficult to ascertain identity of a stranger…it is a non-issue.

          • I think if a person in a cold climate wearing a balaclava came indoors to speak to a bank teller, they would probably remove the balaclava.  That is the difference.  If I was a convenience store owner and someone came in to the shop wearing a balaclava on a cold day, I would expect them to remove it so that I could feel secure.  Otherwise I would not serve them, balaclava, hood covering face or a religious veil.  Seeing a person’s face allows identification.

  24. Who are we to judge ? We must judge, or we will lose ourselves in multicultural relativism. Veils are not a fashion trend, they are not even religion. They are walls. They say : our people will walk forever on the archaic ground of our fathers, they will not be contaminated by modernity, by democracy, by the idea that all humans are equal and that men and women have the same rights. Veils proclame that the sharia is the only true law. Fundamentalists know who they are, they defend their values and beliefs. Why can’t we ?

  25. This comment was deleted.

    • Aren’t you a genius!

  26. The real protection of a nation comes with God’s assistance,as we say,”God keep our land holy and free”
    Islamic purdah is a means of protecting a woman’s honor and chastity.
    Unlikely men,women have a special responsibility in the society.They are the mothers of future generations.Every seed in nature is protected in a covering. Ponder on the corn on the cob,how it is protected,ponder on the pearl how it is protected in a shell in the depth of the oceans.The beauty shines when it is protected.Men would go after the soul than body.The rich keep their wealth in banks to save it from robbers.
    This teaching brings a modest society.When we reveal our beauty to men they have to pay a price, husband has to give a maher,fathers have to share their property,brothers have to pay their dues.
    Even the picture of Mary is covered.Jews also have a concept of pardah.

    • Live where this type of dress is allowed. That is not in Canada. If you do not like the rules in this country leave.

      • This type of dress is allowed in Canada.  The only time the veil is to be removed is during the swearing in at the citizenship hearing (and in Quebec at govt. buildings).  No matter how much is distresses you Jackie, the veil is allowed in most of Canada.  Maybe you should leave the country if you don’t llike the rules.

  27. We are employees in a public library that recently bought a subscription to Maclean’s. This cover, and its title, is a total shock. It infuriates us.

    • How so?

      • I am answering on behalf of my fellow librarians. We are to busy at work !
        For a mainstream and influental magazine it is irresponsible to ignore – especially on its cover – the political and antifeminist significance of the veil and to question the necessity to denounce it. 
        The cover does not adress the real issue, which is the way women are persecuted under Sharia law. It is such a cheap shot.

        • You don’t pay much attention to Macleans, do you? Inflammatory covers is one of their specialties. They are in the business of selling magazines.

          Aren’t librarians supposed to be opposed to censorship? You are sounding very PC. Do you only carry materials that support your world view? If so, you are playing into the hands of the Fords of Canada.

          • Sir,
            As librarians we pride ourselves in carrying diverse points of view.
            We recognize that Macleans and other publications are commercial enterprises that people enjoy. However these publications should not be given free reign.
            We believe in free discourse on their covers and contents.

  28. So what should we do? Is having a standard and rules such a bad thing? Should we be tolerant of simply every idea a group of people have because they have a right to think that way? In my opinion I think we are losing our sense of what is acceptable and what is not, that many are moving here to become Canadian or American but what does that mean? What changes when you move to North America? 

    I won’t answer my own questions because it’s not my opinion that many are interested in: however; I’m interested what others have to think.

  29. At the point where the burqa becomes “sexual fetishization,” the writer of this begins drinking her own bath water. As tendentious as it is specious, as glib as it is predictable, the article fails. It will get an F outside Feminist PostColonial Advocacy Studies 101, and an A+ inside that echo chamber.

  30. “The Quran, an enlightened text regarding gender equality”  I can’t believe that the author would be allowed to assert such a statement of nonsense in a respected magazine like Macleans.  She obviusly hasn’t read the Koran, nor witnessed numerous Sharia courts giving women less in inheritance cases than men.  Nor does she know that men can get a divorce much easier than women.  Women are not equal to men in Islam! 

    As for the veil, the author missed the only point that needs to be made in prohibiting it.  A conversation, a business transaction, an oath taking ceremony, etc. cannot be undertaken fairly between a veiled person and an unveiled person.  The veiled person is in a superior position to the other party in terms of being able to add facial expressions to the conversation whereas the unveiled person is at a disadvantage because of the face being covered.

    It’s as simple as that.  The veiled person gets more out of the conversation than the non-veiled person and that is neither fair nor equitable in a liberal democratic society like Canada.

    • How can you farily prohit the nijab without prohiting all facial covering and how can you prohibit all facial covering in a winter country like Canada.  If it is below minus twenty and you and I are outside workers, we will likely both have our faces covered.  Is our communication a little more difficult, yes.  Is that a good reason to ban facial covering in public?   No because it would be hazardous to our health.  Should you choose not to wear a scarf on your face when it is cold, does that mean someone who you are talking to cannot as well?  That is ridiculous.

  31. This comment was meant to be a reply to another commenter, so I’m just moving it where it belongs.

  32. Just on the point about whether or not women are forced to wear a veil, while some undoubtedly are, I think many people forget (or do not know) that in many cases the younger generation (of all religions) is actually MORE conservative than their parents.  

    It’s pretty hard for me to accept the argument that some of the students I see in university are being forced to wear a veil by their fathers when I meet them with their parents and their own mothers (and/or sisters) are NOT wearing a veil.

  33. There is a legitimate reason to be concerned over IDENTITY. How do I know who the person is? At least the hijab doesn’t obscure the face.

  34. A very interesting article that fails to address the central issue of the new law banning veils at swearing in ceremonies.  How can we (the government and citizens of Canada) be certain that the person taking the oath is actually the person who has been granted citizenship if their faces are covered?  I’ve heard some people argue that the inductee could remove the veil in private to the presiding officials, but this ignores the fact that the swearing in ceremony is a public proclamation of a person’s willingness to abide by the constitution of our country.  It must be public to ensure fairness. The fact that 81% of Canadians agree with this law does not indicate a lack of tolerance on the part of existing citizens, but a good dose of common-sense.  Any attempt to blur this logic is a deception born out of a political/feminist agenda.  Nobody is saying that, in day-to-day life, these women cannot follow the edicts of their faith.  But if you want the freedoms and benefits of Canadian citizenship, you must lower the veil!

  35. Well in places like Saudi, women with ‘sexy eyes’ may soon be forced to veil their eyes as well.   First of all, do we really want people running around who cannot be identified AT ALL?  Many people have committed robberies, etc., and terrorists have even escaped Europe back to Somalia (male terrorists) by dressing in a Burqa.  

    I see pictures of women in Pakistan all wearing burqa, with kids hanging on them and wonder how each kid knows who is even holding him or her.  Children cannot learn properly when they cannot see faces, facial expressions, etc.  

    Honestly, the truth is these women ARE being forced to dress that way because historically back in the 1970s etc., middle eastern women were NOT dressing conservatively, and in places like Iraq are being murdered for not dressing ‘islamic’ and in Afghanistan and Pakistan having acid thrown in their faces, being killed, raped, etc., unless they COMPLETELY cover up.  IRAN is the same, women are being arrested for ‘bad hijab’ and ‘shoes too sexy’ or too much makeup.  Now that Indonesia has ‘sharia law’ they set up check points with religious police who pull women over and send them home for having clothing too tight or not good enough.  Even though not everyone who lives there is muslim.I’ll tell you who I am to judge, A WOMAN, and someone who has read ‘recent history’ and the quran. NOWHERE did it ordain that women must be fully covered.   Mohammed said MODEST MEN AND WOMEN wear a veil.  Well back then a veil was just a long sheer piece of cloth, you could see through it, and I don’t see any MEN wearing a veil anyway.

    You can see images of women in Iraq in the 70’s wearing miniskirts, going to college, nothing like that now. 

    The fact that decades of harassment and physical violence resulted in the women in these places dressing like this should tell you something.

    In Europe, in areas with high muslim populations, even nonmuslim women are forced to wear baggy clothing/sweat suits, and, quite often, headscarfs in order to just avoid being raped.  In England Moroccan men have taken to slicing muslim women from outer lip to ear (the half smile) if they are not wearing a hijab.  

    And I for SURE don’t want to see any muslim men on here commenting about what WOMEN WANT TO DO, because we all know how they love to kill the women who do what they want!!  Marrying the wrong man, ‘being too western’, getting a divorce – all ‘good reasons’ under islam to kill your wife or daughter.  Screw that !!!

  36. Just a fact check here – Coco Chanel was not responsible or integral in the abandonment of corsetry or adoption of trousers. It was Paul Poiret who was instrumental in the abandonment of corsetry around the time Chanel was just starting her career as a milliner and nobody had ever heard of her.  And Jean Patou was far more influential in the adoption of trousers than Chanel ever was, although it was really Yves St. Laurent who took trousers from sportswear into fashion in the 1960s.

  37. Point to note, Before going for oath every one is showing face and Photo ID  to clerk than person is allowed to proceed for the oath. why they have to show their faces to among all audience of oath ceremony???
    In my openion it is policy of corrupt Harparites, evangelist, conservatives to create fear among common people to gain politically.

    • The claim is that they cannot see the mouth move until the niqab so they cannot be sure they are saying the oath.  In all honesty, I don’t believe anyone has to stir up the bigotry in this country….all they have to do is let these people have a voice and it all comes to the surface.

  38. This is an excellent article that shows the complexity of this issue.  For me, as a very modern woman, it is also quite inconceivable that there is any appetite for discussions about what women can and cannot wear unless there is some proof of harm.   The idea that there is some Canadian value to “seeing someone’s face” is not only ridiculous in its simplicity but also, of course, reduces the “Canadian-ness”  of persons who are blind or have trouble seeing – does the same apply to them?  Are they any less Canadian?  We have to be very cautious about what we say are Canadian values – we have many values and one of them is not having knee-jerk reactions to things that we perceive as being unique and novel.  Congratulations to Maclean’s for taking on this subject.

    • Walk into a bank with a ski mask on and you will find out immediately what the problem is when you cannot see someone’s face.

      • I will bet at least half of the people who walked into a bank in Alberta this week had a scarf wrapped around their face due to near minus 40 degree weather.  Some probably even were wearing ski masks.  This practice is accepted in Canada because it is cold…brrrr.  I bet you don’t even look twice at someone who has a scarf over their face in the winter because you are used to it.  You certainly don’t read something nefarious into it.  It is part of living here.

        • Man Healthcare – you seriously need to go on vacation and warm up. You’re bashing everyone over the head with your point – and I was born and raised in the Canadian Prairies  before you blast me about it. Its cold, we know. 

          • I’m sorry but I can’t help it when people keep saying that in Canada we don’t allow anyone to cover their faces in public….it’s such a load of BS.

        • You wear appropriate clothing outside to protect yourself from the cold. You do not wear the same clothing indoors. You cannot even compare the 2 examples.

          • I would agree wholeheartedly with you Jackie if young Canadian men removed their caps and sunglasses when they came indoors but many do not and although it is rude and although ist has been used as a disguise in bankrobberies, I don’t recall any hysterical blogging about that issue.

    •  Can you define modern woman for me

  39. The picture that is with this article is a joke. For someone trying to be so modest they have on a lot of makeup.

  40. Islamaphobe. Being against the Muslim religion doesn’t make you anti-Arab anymore than being anti-nazism would make you anti-German

    • That is a foolish comparison considering there are people of the Muslim faith all over the world, not just the middle east and the Nazi’s were a political party in Germany.

  41. these immigrants should be forced to abide by our standards and customs, just like they do in Australia. We don’t need them here.

    • Are you a native Indian?

  42. We do not allow people to go nude in public because the majority feel that it is offensive to do so. For the same reason we should not allow people to cover their faces in public. This is a democratic society so if our government does not have to the guts to make decisions on their own then let’s take a vote and I will guarantee that the majority of our population will decide that someone’s face should not be covered in public.

    • I think if you modern women were to lobby hard, this can be achieved! You are allowed to be topless and breast feed in public so it’s not too far off.
      Keep at it!

  43. Make no mistake, the Holy Qura’an has no place for hijab/burqa/niqab,

    however you call it. Let me quote Dr.Gamal ElBanna, Egyptian elder

    and author in Islamic studies at the oldest Islamic University, Al-Azhar. He

    stated that: The only part where the Qura’an mentioned the veil was to indicate

    the curtain separating the residence of the Prophet from the nearby Mosque,

    unquote. Veil or hijab comes from ‘yahjeb’ meaning to hide.. Nothing in

    the Holy Book about the burqa & niqab as they are plain inventions of the

    Salafi Wahabists who are distorting the pure, moderate, tolerant Islam. Yet, they are blindly copied by the so-called “philosphers” in Muslim-majority countries who do not know arabic, which is

    the official language of Qura’an. Strangely enough, the rising star, Dr.Tariq Ramadan, chose the side of Salafis when I debated him in the presence of 400 attendees at Ottawa U. Strangely as it may appear, Tariq’s maternal grandfather was the Founder and Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Hassan ElBanna, who is Dr.Gamal ElBanna’s older brother.

    Applying the true teachings of the Qura’an and not of those of Salafi Wahabists will prevent a resurgence of a Canadastan.
    Dr.S F Ayoub

    • sir, respectfully, you need to read Quran and hadith again, and this time not from al azhar s point of view.

  44. Dress code should not be regulated by the state, especially when there are plenty of alternatives available such as taking oaths of citizenship to female officials seperately. The religious symbols should only be removed in society when national security is in peril ie. requisite security checks at ports of entry etc.

  45. Let’s be clear, the veil, hijab or whatever female face covering is nothing more than the most visible symbol of an overtly misogynist culture and on those grounds alone should be banned in any form in Canada.

    • So even if these women jump up and down and swear they want to wear the niqab, you are going to deny them the right to wear it and rip it off because you don’t want them to be bullied by anyone into wearing it?  Okay…well I say we get rid of those god-awful tights that young Canadian women are wearing now because anyone overweight looks horrible in them and only a misogynistic culture would put pressure on a women to wear something that errodes her self-confidence by making her look bad.  While were at it, let’s outlaw the skinny jeans too…those don’t look good on anyone with an ounce of fat..how about uniforms for ALL women.  Have you ever noticed that the men in different cultures seem to always win in the sensible clothing rules….no high heels…no facial coverings….no awful pocka-dot scarves…no mini-skirts when you have fat legs?

      • Women cover their faces up as a result of cultural and religious manipulation.  Our faces are our primary features of identity.  Modesty is one thing but to have shield your face so that only your eyes are visible is not acceptable in a free and democratic society.  While it is true that women are repressed and suppressed in many ways in Canadian society, we are guided by our general policies to improve women’s lives not make them worse.  If we accept practices from societies which seek to keep women tied to repressive traditions we are not upholding our vision of true equality for all.  (Christianity and Judaism also have traditions which subjugate women.)     

  46. This is not new ground. Canada has ruled that Morman’s cannot practice polygamy in this country.The decision had to decide “against the social concerns polygamy raises, Bauman’s ruling had to
    balance the right to freedom of religion, guaranteed in Canada’s
    Charter.”

    • You are comparing marrying multiple women to wearing headgear….hahaha!  Unbelievable.

  47. I like wearing balaclavas they are comfortable and warm, it’s my right because I live in a frozen wasteland, I also like wearing dark sunglasses because the snow is so blinding it’s my inherent right as a Canadian. That’s how my wife wants me to dress, she doesn’t want other women to look at me because I have an incredibly handsome face. I want to be judged for my intelligence and not my good looks. It’s for these reasons I have the right to wear these things , especially in banks, it’s also handy because this way i don’t distract the tellers and get them all flustered with my good looks. Also when I renew my passport the photo really turns out well my nose and mouth look great. Oh did I mention that my wife is very jealous and to keep peace at home, so she doesn’t yell at me all of the time and upset the children, I’m better off wearing these things.I have a right to wear these things all of the time. 

    • Jack Nicholson, is that you?

  48. There are more ‘dangerous’ ideas than the hijab. I know Muslim women who wear it because they think it is right for them to do so.  It is true that iin the West ‘cultural restraints on individual behaviour automatically look like oppression’: it may be true sometimes but not in all cases.  I suggest we look on ‘abortion as sex-selection’ (see Canadian Medical Association Journal, January 19, 2012), the forcing of young girls to get on the hyper-beauty bandwagon, and the idea of legalizing prostitution (where most women are involved becasue of drugs) as being more degrading to women than the hijab.  It is alright to have it removed for purposes of identity but just get used to it otherwise.  We can oppose honour killing or unfair treatment of women in Afghanistan but the hijab is not the problem.  If someone wants to wear it, why should we care? (I am a Catholic, not Muslim  but I have lived in a Muslim area).

    • Glad to see someone speak some sense here!

  49. I find it amusing that Westerners so easily point at others as being backwards and oppressing people, but I guess thats part of any society’s idiotic “us versus them” attitudes. However, Western societies easily repress women too – look at the unequal wages, sexualizing of women, devaluing of women, and other patriarchal/misogynistic attitudes of women that are deeply ingrained in society. You may say “Oh, but women who have to wear the burka are the more oppressed and controlled.” No, not necessarily. Indeed, they may have more freedoms in certain countries. Furthermore, most Muslim women get the choice of wearing the hijab, which is not necessarily about wearing a headscarf or full-body covering, but actually about being modest in behaviour and dress (in Islam, this is also recommended for men too). Different cultures that adopt Islam have different interpretations though, and sure, some of the time it has to do with patriarchal principles interpreting the concept of hijab. Like I said though, we live in a patriarchal culture too. Take a long, hard look at your own culture before making some uneducated judgement about women in other cultures. We’re pretty good at dehumanizing people too, ironically, by imposing our rules on people who seem “different.”
     
    Secondly, I think it is unfair that western men (and some women) have the main say in what women wearing the niqab or burka or scarf are feeling. How in the world do you know what they are feeling? How do you know they are being oppressed? You are judging them by Western standards, and let me say, just because we live in a Western world does not make us better than non-Western civilizations, nor are we the norm. I mean, we are a country of immigrants, shouldn’t we welcome everyone without judgement or imposing rules? If we are supposed to live in a multicultural society that respects freedoms, such as freedom of religion, then we aren’t doing a great job by deviantizing cultures, peoples, religions and customs that aren’t based on Judeo-Christian, wealthy, white male principles (because yes, those standards are what societal structures are based on). People in Western countries simply judge out of total ignorance. Instead of presuming things, why not talk to Muslim people? They don’t bite. They aren’t mad terrorists. And the women aren’t any more oppressed than women here. But no, we do our best to exclude them from all debate, then make blanket judgements that exclude their point of view and make decisions that are only in the interest of a certain group of people (i.e. the “dominant” group in society). These decisions truly defeat the purpose of any type of fairness and infringe on basic human rights. Why can’t we let people be? We think people are threats who aren’t threats, and utterly fail to see the existing issues of our own country. Also, why don’t we condemn the people in our society who make judgements and attack people of other religions and cultures? That doesn’t seem fair at all…thats actually pretty hypocritical.
     
    The best way to combat ignorance is to become educated. I would suggest taking some university-level sociology courses on religion, Canadian society, and ethnic relations, or better yet, reading the Qur’an, sitting in on some sermons at local masjids, and (most shockingly!) actually speaking to a real, live Muslims. (I know, talking to Muslims and including them in on discourses about their own religion…that is a hard step indeed!). Remember that there is a lot of Islamophobic rhetoric going on, and usually these discourses about Muslims are filled with (usually Western) bias, hate, prejudice, stereotypes (and stereotypes, no matter what they are, are NEVER based in reality); all of the discourses are incorrect about Muslim, and they are so, so unfair and hurtful.
     
    P.S. Thanks Maclean’s for an interesting article that explored the debate from both sides and also discusses what the Qur’an says about hijab
     
    P.S. #2: I find it interesting that a lot of commentators on this article are male. Huh.
     
    P.S. #3: I’m a Western-born Muslim girl. Sometimes I feel like I’m caught in the middle, but I realize its not an ‘either-or’ situation of being Muslim or being Western. I can be both, because my religion allows me to. Western society, on the other hand, creates some (well, actually, lots of) tension, mostly because of the serious amount of ignorance flittering about on Islam. And by the way, I’m not oppressed by my religion, but I certainly feel oppressed by Western society’s attitudes on Muslim women and Islam in general. I feel like I can talk more about this, but thats okay, I think you’ve got some of my point.

  50. I happen to agree with Turkish-born sociologist Necla Kelek.The veil is an affront to all women on this planet! We can chose if we want to wear stilettos or any other garment but the veil has now become a weapon of submission of women. It should be forbidden in this country.Today it is only worn by Muslim women, tomorrow they will make us wear them also because their men look at us women without the veils.It does not make any sense at all.Why would a so-called perfect God creates a woman so imperfect she has to hide behind a veil..One more argument against the terrorism of organized religion..because that is what they all are!

  51. I happen to agree with Turkish-born sociologist Necla Kelek.The veil is an affront to all women on this planet! We can chose if we want to wear stilettos or any other garment but the veil has now become a weapon of submission of women. It should be forbidden in this country.Today it is only worn by Muslim women, tomorrow they will make us wear them because their men look at us women without the veils.It does not make any sense at all.Why would a so-called perfect God creates a woman so imperfect she has to hide behind a veil..One more argument against the terrorism of organized religion..because that is what they all are!

  52. I happen to agree with Turkish-born sociologist Necla Kelek.The veil is an affront to all women on this planet! We can chose if we want to wear stilettos or any other garment but the veil has now become a weapon of submission of women. It should be forbidden in this country.Today it is only worn by Muslim women, tomorrow they will make us wear them because their men look at us women without the veils.It does not make any sense at all.Why would a so-called perfect God creates a woman so imperfect she has to hide behind a veil..One more argument against the terrorism of organized religion..because that is what they all are!

  53. I happen to agree with Turkish-born sociologist Necla Kelek.The veil is an affront to all women on this planet! We can chose if we want to wear stilettos or any other garment but the veil has now become a weapon of submission of women. It should be forbidden in this country.Today it is only worn by Muslim women, tomorrow they will make us wear them because their men look at us women without the veils.It does not make any sense at all.Why would a so-called perfect God creates a woman so imperfect she has to hide behind a veil..One more argument against the terrorism of organized religion..because that is what they all are!

  54. No one is actually talking about the veil here. Want to cover your hair? Go ahead. Some people don’t even have hair- it’s not really important.

    The real issue here is that the Koran does not state women should be faceless in public. It simply says
    that women should cover their hair and dress modestly.  The increase in
    Burka and Niqab wearing in this century has not been the result of increased faith. It is the result of radical Imams that would rather see the female face as a sexual object than someones identity.

    The face is not a sexual object. Anyone that sexually objectifies a face is bent beyond all comprehension. The face is your identity. It conveys subtle cues and emotions that are vitally important in human communication. Any woman that says she covers her face because she is commanded to by God, or Allah, is lying. Face covering is a bizarre and extreme cultural anomaly much like female genital mutilation. It does not have a place in Canada or any other advanced nation.

    Personally, I don’t worry about it too much because I believe that reasonable
    thinking and compassion for women will always win over scumbags (male or female) that are apologetic about this.

    Wiping someones face away from society is the ultimate dehumanization. As much as this journalist half-heartedly tried, a woman wearing a bikini is not, and will never be comparable. Everyone, Muslim and infidel, has a right to judge this issue.  

    • Are you a Islamic scholar? Do you understand Quran and it’s teaching?
       You can’t even spell “Quran” correctly :)

  55. Also, one more thing I forgot to add. I feel like Muslims can keep talking, keep explaining, but non-Muslims will NEVER listen to us, but will continue to see us through Western eyes based on a biased set of attitudes. It is akin to knocking my head over and over again against a brick wall, and feels just as useful, when I try to explain Islam to non-Muslims; they just don’t want to hear, nor do they want to listen to the viewpoints of Muslims, particularly the women, whom they view as oppressed by the men and the religion. Thats quite ironic, that non-Muslims believe they know Muslims better than Muslims know themselves. You judge us so much, then refuse to listen and talk over us, and it is so unfair and so hurtful. How are Muslims hurting you and your western sensibilities? Stop and think, is Islam actually a threatening religion, and the cultures who adopt the religion threatening as well? How so? Or are you just afraid of what you don’t, and absolutely refuse to, understand?

      • Just to let you know, there are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world today. Do you think that radical Muslims represent all of us? Absolutely not. They don’t represent “modern-day Islam” at all. Radicals make up a tiny percentage of Muslims, yet they get all the attention, and their terrible actions are what media represents as what Islam is, and that is completely false. A small, radical group does NOT represent the whole. If you want to know what peaceful, modern-day Islam is, I suggest you talk to the many Muslims out there who are willing to talk about what their religion really is, instead of clouding your understanding by letting the media and pre-conceived prejudices define what Islam is. Not one of us supports terrorism in any way, in case you’re wondering; but then, nobody listens to us when we say that.

        • Alina, I’d really like you to understand something, since you say you’re all about understanding. I’m furious. Why? Because, as you rightly said, women in Canada (I’m one) never acquired full equality. We came a long way, though, and it has become apparent that the trend is reversing. 

          One thing that has me unable to rest well anymore is the Valley Park Middle School Friday prayers where girls sit behind boys (behind a barrier, no less) and menstruating girls sit farther back and don’t participate. Justify this however you want, it’s absolutely unacceptable in a public school. It’s like black people being required to sit at the back of buses before civil rights in the U.S., except it’s even worse. In publicly funded institutions, females should be treated as equal to males. There are actually Muslim MEN, let alone Muslim women, who are trying to reform this practice in mosques, yet it’s allowed in public school. This says to me that gender equality rights are at great risk thanks to apologists like you, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. I will always harbor resentment in my heart until this accommodation ends. I truly wish that huge numbers of Muslim-Canadian women would speak out against this sexist practice, not just the brave, progressive few like Raheel Raza and Homa Arjomand.

          The other thing is that I don’t appreciate women treating their hair and/or face like private parts. I find this humiliating as a woman. Not only that, it creates a false, superficial dichotomy between “good” women (veiled) and “immoral” women (unveiled). You don’t like the “us vs. them” mentality, but this certainly accomplishes that. In other Western countries, white women are being raped by Muslim men because of the idea that women who don’t “veil” are immoral and deserve it (http://www.rense.com/general69/westernmuslims.htm). So, even if it’s only with a hijab, I feel that women who veil themselves are putting those who don’t at risk of serious harm.

          Religious practices are best kept in the private realm of home and places of worship. When done in public, they affect all of society. We need to go back to the time when religion was hardly in the public sphere at all. Otherwise, we’ll move closer and closer to religious strife. I’m deeply concerned about this.

          • So are you going to make the rules in Islam now as to how men and women should offer there prayers!!

            I don’t like the practice of having separate bathrooms and showers for men and women.Since men and women are alike, please lobby to combine the bathrooms so that women can feel like men!

  56. Khalid says   
    “I understand that you would rather have you mother’s, daughters, sisters and wives prance around naked”  
    not to be unfair to the fellow, he says other things in his comments that do make sense, but i`ll choose to pick on the above statement.

    You reveal your colors finally, khalid,  after a lengthy write-up.   You assume much and generalize way too much.  Now you must choose between a FREE STATE and a POLICE STATE.  Let`s analyse, shall we?

    Which region of the world has been most helpful to other regions?  As much as the other regions love to hate it.  It`s the West, silly!   China and other third world countries are FILTHY RICH because of the prosperity and negligence of the West!  Prosperity gained by its FREE STATE social and economic policies, negligence because of crony capitalism bred by stupidity and indifference in the general population.  That`s right!  There are way too many stupid people in the west…  being indifferent makes you stupid, stupid!

    Agreed that the lefties have gone way out of hand but PLEASE consider this;    It is because of the west and its societal and economic freedoms that the world has made advancements in all fronts technological medicinal etc.   Please enlighten us what the middle east with its repressive regimes has contributed.   What good to the rest of the world has that oil income generated?  As much as the residents of the region “dislike” the west for interfering in the region you need to realize that had the US not involved itself most people there would now be speaking either RUSSIAN or MANDARIN.  That`s right, if China had its way with the region they`d have relocated enough of its population to overwhelm the region youd all be speaking a Chinese dialect by now!    Pity the fools… THERE WAS NO BETTER ALTERNATIVE  

    Tell me, which imperialistic nation would you rather be affiliated with?  USA, China, or Russia?   The region is rich in resources badly needed around the world.   There is no way that foreign imperialist powerhouses would have just disregarded the region!  Its just the way it is…  now please tell me again,  you think the region would have been better off in Chinese hands!?   Russain?  Do not make the mistake thinking that the region would have been left to its own devices! So you MUST choose.

    • had russia been the world leader instead of the USA, communism would be prevalent throughout the world by now… the UN would be either non-existent OR completely warped.

        The arab spring would not even have materialized.  People in the region have MUCH to gain in the future because of the presence of the UN.

  57. I think if you want to be a Canadian then adapt to western culture, that means our dress. No one says you have to show skin!
    When I see a woman driving a minivan in camoflauge full face mask ninja gear it totally freaks me out and there is nothing CANADIAN about it!  If I went into a bank looking like that they would deny me service and probably arrest me!
    Why are we allowing people like this to live here and take advantage of our country when they hate us and want us and all that we stand for to be destroyed?

    • They don’t hate us, they hate people like you!

  58. Balkanbomb,

    First of all, I’m muslim and I don’t agree with the burka or the veil.  WTF are you thinking listening to some old ass proverb telling you to cover yourself from head-to-toe?!  First of all, you’re an idiot!  It’s 2012!  Get with the F****** program!

    Second of all, if you come to Canada, abide by it’s rules and regulations!  If you don’t like, the LEAVE!  I do NOT want to spent anymore taxpayers money trying to make this RIGHT for you.  Listen bitches, just take your veil off and take the oath!  

    Third of all, I think WE Canadians have bent over backwards for ALL cultures and no one has bent over backwards for ours.  If you go to other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, you’re considered a third world citizen – no questions asked.

  59. It’s one thing for a Muslim to defend the practices of his or her own faith, because presumably he or she is at least familiar with their own scripture. But I am troubled when non-Muslim apologists who have never bothered to read either the Quran or Hadith make such blithe assertions as this: “The Quran, an enlightened text regarding gender equality, enforces no dress code. . . .”
    Clearly, Anne Kingston has not read the Quran. If she had, surely she would have found Sura 33:59: “Oh Prophet! tell they wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when out of doors).” So, yes, it does enforce a dress code, for women at least.
    As for “gender equality,” where in the Quran does it say a woman can have more than one husband? Because it clearly says that men can have more than one wife. Where is the gender equality there?
    There are various passages in the Quran that weight a woman’s worth, as a human being, at exactly half of a man.When it comes to inheritance, a female gets half of what a male gets (4:11). When swearing oaths, the testimony of woman is worth half of a man’s (2:282).
    As for the move to ban niqabs and burkas in public, I don’t know what is more of a threat to a free and open society — the state denying a person’s right to dress however he or she wants, or a religion denying a woman’s right to show her face to the world.
    As a male and a non-Muslim, on this issue must I defer to those who are in a better position to judge this sort of thing — Muslim women, or former Muslim women, like Ayaan Hirshi Ali, Maryam Namazie and Irshad Manji. And in their opinion, wearing a burqa or niqab is not a choice for many Muslim women in any case.

    • in canada, men can walk aroun topless, why cant women??? you say this is equality???? understand the difference between men and women, only He knows best who has created

  60. The veil is a symbol of oppression , women like to show , it is their nature .though they will deny it with an oath, so it is suppression of something that is natural in women , for sure old fat and ugly women should wear burqa even in the west, it becomes an eye soar , temperature hardly reaches 18 degree , and we have to see the fat overlapping flesh with dirt and grime showing, unsightly armpits 
    (men begin to feel heat only when it goes above 28  celsius), It is obvious why some women love burqa ,  More than half of those women are forced into it , or are forced to pretend that they like it , not everyone wants to risk a murder or unhappy family, when religion is forced on children , it is a form of child abuse, no one wants to talk about it because it is good to force religion if it happens to be Christianity or Judaism ,  no one is going there for the obvious reason.
    Veil is bad , I am against it , any reasonable person would be against it , but the intense hatred shown in the West for burqa shows the basest and the lowest value that west is so overly proud of.
    If freedom is not a western value; they don’t have any value !, they can brag about their W.M.D for sure but the mindset so obsessed with burqa is shallow and mean. Canada’s commitment to openness , So called First Nations did not have the right weapons to force the white settlers to eat raw seals and walk around naked wearing goat skin in order to integrate into their native culture. they were running for their lives instead.Muslims must integrate or go back to their own country”  so lovely are those words , racists and ethnocetrics in Canada admire those words and gloat over it with inspiration, but to any reasonable person it is just going lower and lower ,French culture is definitely superior , it is written in the text book and Sarkozy has a long nose ,a wife to be proud of and what could be better than Judeau Christian values ! add to it his boyish swagger and superiority complex. no one can question that. with credit rating downgraded blame it all on Muslims with the audacity to brag about your openness.
     I believe those girls suffer torture when they are told to wear veils , please their parents but get all the hatred and bad looks from lovely society that claims on gun point that they are open and respectful . If they choose not to wear veil , they may feel a little better , might face a little less discrimination but they are still non white, not christian. torn between two extremes. I feel sorry for them .

  61. Way too many different “thrusts of logic” on this topic for any one to be dominant.  For my personal issue a person can wear just about any piece of clothing they want: baggy, form fitting, floor to head, what ever.  I do want to see their face if they are carrying out any kind of interaction, negotiation or “business”.  Various studies show that up to 80 percent of communication, in a social interaction is conveyed “non verbaly”.  Certainly the most exteam situations where you want to see someon’s face is in legal negotiations such as court discussions, goverment dealing, bank/financial dealings etc.  For me common, curtesy suggests you take your hat off and look a person in the face when your dealing with them.  So my preference is no face coverings when I am dealing directly with a person.  Otherwise cover you face as much as you want.  In your home, out on the street, in the grocery store etc. Yet if you want to discuss an issue, make a complaint, ask for assistance or conclude some sort of business, I want to see your face.

    • Yes, it’s an issue that raises many different points of view, Broomast, but your point brings to mind one very human issue that no one has raised: if I encounter someone who evidences such fear of me that they feel the need to turn their face away and hide, it stirs some very strong emotions in me.  What is so frightening about me that they need to hide, or what is it they are trying to hide from me?

      If a veiled woman, or anyone wearing a motorcycle helmet or dark sunglasses, wants to make me feel OK about talking to them, they will voluntarily remove their veil/ski mask/glasses.  When they do not, I tend to feel quite uneasy.  That is NOT a cultural reaction, it is human nature.

  62. If women truly choose to wear the niqab or the chador, it isn’t government’s place to legally prohibit them from doing so. Nor is it the place for government to prevent parents from compelling their daughters to do so before they are of the age of consent. 

    The federal government of Canada, and the provincial governments, need to strike a balance between the rights of the individual and their responsibilities. For example, if a woman wants to apply for a driver’s license, she should be required to show her face; she should also be required to reveal her face if stopped by a traffic cop. Prohibitions on articles of clothing that may impair a motorist’s ability to drive in no way infringe on the rights of the individual: woman who choose to wear the niqab (which reveals only the eyes) can always take the subway or walk rather than drive. 

    However, the rights of the individual, and Canadian society as a whole, are not advanced when government prohibits articles of clothing because they seem “exotic” or threatening. Shall we prohibit Jews from wearing the yarmulke? How about Catholics from wearing the crucifix? How about Muslim men from wearing the keffiyeh? 

  63. What people do in their own homes is their own business. A veil is a mask and has no place in public. Is it supposed to be ok to wear a veil in a bank, while driving, in a courtroom? 

  64. Veils should be banned out right, I have a right as a canadian to be able to feel safe in public, how I am supposed to feel safe if there is a bunch of people with veils? How can I trust them? Besides, they come to Canada, CANADA, don’t bring your religion here, leave it at home, and stop turning Canada into something its not.

    • Please provide me a list of what Canada is, so we can follow along!

  65. For an article that ostensibly seeks to foster
    understanding, the concluding paragraphs highlight the sheer hypocrisy of the “veil
    debate”.   The full veil is intended to
    render a woman anonymous in public, as she is otherwise not permitted to step
    outside the home to avoid male attention and also prevent any interaction with
    strangers.     No amount of sophistry from vested interests
    and bleeding heart western feminists can hide the misogyny that is at the core
    of this practice.     Yes, women should be absolutely free to
    choose what they wear without having to endure moral judgment from others.     However, across societies and cultures and
    throughout the ages, masks/ cloaks are associated with subterfuge, covert
    action, secrets, etc.    Human
    acquaintance requires ability to identify people – face recognition, facial
    expressions, body language, etc., and people are  instinctively  uncomfortable around people they cannot
    identify.    At the very least, those seeking such accommodation
    should realize that they are making an unfair demand –   they
    are opaque to people around them who do not have this privilege!     In any case, all that is being expected is
    a requirement to be visually identifiable in specific instances.      Accommodation is a two-way street.   

  66. If a person wants to dress anyway she sees fit, and it’s her own
    choice, I don’t really care. 

     

    For those niqab-wearing women who don’t like being stared at, by
    men, for their “beauty” (sometimes quoted in videos shown on CBC and
    other sources), I say “get over yourselves”. Other Muslim women do
    not seem to have this self-centred problem. In addition, you do not wish to be
    seen but you wish to watch everyone else! Not very inclusive of you, is it!
     A rather spooky aloofness, in some people’s view. If you are as beautiful
    as you think you are, you will be looked at – get used to it and enjoy it. You
    might even enjoy meeting a whole new mix of people.

     

    For those same women… you seem to enjoy spending lots of money
    on lingerie, pedicures (polished toenails) and manicures (more polished nails),
    makeup, and hair styling – only to (partially and coyly) hide it under your
    burka or niqab. Is there not some hypocrisy here? Other than husbands, who gets
    to see this? Just who are you “saving it for?”

     

    For the hypocrisy angle, read up on what happens with women on
    aircraft as the planes leave Saudi airspace and upon their return. I’ve never
    seen the quick-change show, but numerous men and women (expats employed in the
    oil business) have recounted the stories to me. Massive scramble for the
    washrooms, there is! Bare skin in London is the scene, I hear. Cover up in
    Saudi.

     

    Thirdly, in Canada (western culture), we read people’s faces to
    get communication cues that register sincerity, honesty, emotion, and
    trustworthiness, amongst others. I, as a Canadian male,  will converse
    with you, on a one-to-one basis, only when you remove your facial covering…
    and shake my hand!

     

    And, fourthly… the most important criterion for me is equality
    of security – no, I’m not referring to so-called “terrorism”. Why
    should these women be allowed to enter banks, airports, hospitals, and the like
    without identifying themselves? What would happen if some Canadian men and
    women decided to enter a bank or airport while wearing Balaclavas or ski masks?
    Security would be on them in a flash and there would be full
    “lock-down” with SWAT teams. If you can have your face covered, why
    can’t I?

     

    If our ways make you feel so uncomfortable, why don’t you
    reconsider your choice of residence – there would be no hard feelings?

     

  67. This
    is Canada in the 21st century. It’s not your fault you’re beautiful,
    it is mine if I decide to attack you. Cover your hair if you like the
    symbolism, but you don’t have to fear being attacked or ostracized for
    having the freedom from male repression to be seen for who you are in
    this country. You are not a slut for not veiling your face, you’re a
    modern Canadian citizen, be proud of that.

    http://justonecynicsopinion.blogspot.com/2012/01/is-no-fault-assault-going-to-be-ok-in.html

  68. Who are we to judge? Anne, it seems you’re judging big time. You sound like an Islamist. Those immoral, hyper-sexualized, ungodly, Western women flaunting their bodies, oh my! 

    The veil is not very complex, in my opinion. If it’s coerced, we shouldn’t be enablers of the coercers.If it’s a form of protest against “evil Western culture”, it shouldn’t be protected under freedom of religion.If it’s seen as a religious duty, it’s based on the idea that a woman’s face and hair are like private parts (awrah), and we’d be morons to defend this idiotic, cult-like notion.However you look at it, the niqab/burka isn’t something a reasonable society can tolerate. How about this for the title of your next article: Reasonable Societies Don’t Countenance Niqab.

  69. It’s ironic how your article illustrates a second wave of romanticising the niqab in the West. First, it was a symbol of the mysterious, mystical “other.” The second wave is kind of an intellectual one, within which some are actually arguing that it’s a spiritual practice probably too complex to completely comprehend. And it could even symbolize women’s liberty, paradoxical power, and protest against sexism and oversexualization. Fascinating stuff!You’ve addressed and kneaded the issue from every angle, intelligently I should add. But it seems to me you still see it as some undecipherable code. The niqab is not anymore something far and from the far. It’s becoming a part, as small as it might be, of our culture. Therefore, we need to treat it and judge it as part of our self criticism/examination and through our secular values. True, the over-sexualized perception of women is demeaning to women, and to men for that matter. But so is  obliterating women’s identities. They’re both wrong, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Taking the “the male gaze that renders a woman ‘invisible'” as a reason for making yourself invisible sounds like a line from the Theater of the Absurd. Such arguments just make me question the commenter’s ability to reason and/or honesty. I completely agree with Shirin Neshat,“it seems ironic but true that the more a female body is covered, the more desirable it becomes. Therefore much of the credit goes to the phenomena behind Islamic culture that by controlling female sexuality, it ironically heightens the notions of temptation, desire and eroticism.”More importantly, let’s remember that the niqab has consistently been an indictor of the rising of a political islamism. In fact, it could be identified as an islamist banner. We can’t also ignore the simple fact that the niqab has been mostly guarded, militantly, and promoted by cultures that don’t really foster respect for women’s rights.

  70. I was looking forward to reading Anne Kingston’s article, but I felt that is missed a few keys
    points: most importantly, about the reason the veil has been outlawed in places
    like France, which comes down to physical identification. There are cultural differences
    between women’s physical exposure – both baring it all and covering it
    all are about women’s relationships with the men in their societies, not
    about God or personal choice. Regardless, when politics are involved, veils are
    not about repression and freedom – they’re about how people interact in the
    societies they inhabit, and the fact is that in the West, it is both polite and
    necessary to show your face in order to be identified. What ever happened to “when
    in Rome”? I have lived in Muslim countries, and believe you me, I cover my hair
    and face if that’s what is expected of me. When it comes to administrative
    duties in Western society, we show our faces in order to be identified. Have
    you ever wondered what photo ID is on women’s official papers in the
    conservative Middle East? It’s not a picture of the veiled woman: no, it’s a
    picture of the man who owns her, her father or husband. Since this is not the
    case in the West, a bare face is required for ID purposes, simple as that. I believe
    in a multi-cultural society, but it can’t interfere with the practices that
    make our society function in the first place.

  71. No ones looking at the fundamentals of this article which are that religion and ethnicities need to be seperate from law and politics in order to sustain an equal society. Wear your veils, not when you need to be identified for legal and political purposes. This article was unsuccessful in recognizing legitimate concerns because it chose to attack Canadian ideal rather than offer tangible solutions to these problems.

  72. This article seems confused. As my 18 year old son remarked, the author appears to be supporting one form of female mind/body control as an antidote to another. But most importantly, the article misses the point.

    I agree with the government’s ban on the wearing of any face covering by
    anyone, male or female, taking the citizenship oath. In fact I would
    take it much further.

    The niqab and burka are masks. Masks are intended to hide the identity
    of the wearer. In our culture we cannot allow people to hide their
    identities when exercising the rights and privileges of citizenship
    because we have no idea who the masked person really is. I believe it
    is a universal impulse to associate a masked man with murder and
    thievery. But in some muslim cultures (and other traditional cultures
    that limit women’s rights and freedoms), women are not allowed full
    participation in society. And in those places, wearing of the veil or
    mask can be viewed as a virtue, as long as one sets aside the potential
    human rights abuses entailed in this practice.

    But in our society there can be no distinction made between a masked man
    and a masked woman. This practice is utterly incompatible with a
    participatory democracy based on equal rights between men and women. It
    also weakens the rule of law, which depends on individual
    accountability. Therefore on the basis that all forms of masks hide the
    identity of the wearer, it should be self evident that no masked person
    should be entitled to participate in any of the following privileges in
    our society:

    obtain citizenship

    vote

    enter a bank (would we allow a masked man to do so?)

    obtain a driver’s license, health card, passport or any other photo ID card

    use a photo ID of a masked image to identify oneself

    drive a car

    write a test or exam used to evaluate the individual

    obtain a degree or diploma that recognizes the achievement of an individual

    apply for or receive welfare or other social assistance

    cross a security checkpoint (i.e. airport, border, etc.)

    Perhaps this seems harsh but my reasoning is simple. When such
    privileges are extended to a person in a mask, we cannot know to whom
    they are being extended. The potential for fraud and other criminal
    activity is obvious.

    Having said that, I would not ban the practice altogether. If any woman
    ‘chooses’ to wear the burqa, niqab or other style of mask in our society
    she should be ‘free’ to do so as long as she and her family accept the
    self-limitations implied by it’s wearing. To aid the vulnerable,
    provisions could be made to photograph and reveal the individual’s face
    in the presence of some authorized female representative who could
    ‘identify the person to others. And of course my comments do not apply at
    all to the hijab, which is not a mask.

  73. To Khalid and all other defenders of the Hijab:
    In your answer to Kevin Lenard, you are missing the main point: Immigrants have to integrate to canadian culture for the canadian values  to survive the fast growing coming of immigrants.Just like in arabs and muslim countries, Canada has code of conduite and moral values. In Canada, women fought hard to aquire the rightsthat  they now have in term of gender equity.And clearly most canadian dont think that the veils in public is appropriate for what it represents in term of gender inequity. When I go to a muslim country, whatever its for holiday or for business, I am expected to respect their code of conduite. I dont have a mini skirt on when I walk around in Egypt; and I dont  pasionnatly kiss my husband in public. When immigrants come to live in Canada, they should expect to integrate. The same way that westerners do when they go llive in muslim countries.  I do realize that some woman choose the veils. Some are even feminists. IIt is easy for some of them to agressively argue their position hiden behind their veils. But then again its not the point. In Canada, people are expected to show their face in public. More and more canadians are tired of seen immigrants get here and fight against the system. When new comers get in Canada, they have rights, but they first have responsabilities. And the first one, is to integrate. This is a expectation from the people that welcome them. Just like it is a expectation from muslim countries that people behave in a certain way when visiting or immigrating.

  74. As a proud and peace-loving Canadian, I abide by all laws and regulations of this country. And it is this same country whose constitution allows me the cover my face, if i believe in it. Does this administration seek to change the constitution? Why am I being forced to take off my niqab while I swear allegiance – do you not see how faulty my promise would be without my spiritual connection?

  75. I’m not sure that I understand the religious significance of women wearing the veil since the Quran does not command it. To me it seems to be a “Man Made law”.  “The Quran, an enlightened text regarding gender equality, enforces no dress code; “hijab,” or cover, refers to the curtain that separates man and the world from God, not to clothing. Men and women are only called to “lower their gaze and guard their modesty.” The Quran seems to indicate that modesty should be observed despite one’s gender.  Having said this I do not believe that governmental legislation against the “niqab” is right any more than governments legislation about the length of a woman’s skirt is appropriate. I am appalled by the way that the wearing of the veil has sparked acts of hatred, I am worried that people’s objection to this piece of clothing is more an act taken in fear of otherness than anything else. I myself am more concerned with the over sexualization of my gender in the media than whether a woman wears a burka.

  76. Canada, congratulations! You are now the 5th country — after Saudi Arabia, Iran, France, and Belgium — to regulate what women should wear.

  77. “I disagree with you, but I will die for your right to say it”- Voltaire.

    The niqab ban takes attention and resources away from training social workers to spot abuse. Also I strongly believe that on citizenship exams, you should have a definition of what is considered abuse and how women can go online and access resources in their community. This would make a huge difference, and the citizenship exam difference is not that costly

  78. My problem with the niqab ban is that its men creating a legislation of telling women what to wear, and with religious police reinforcing it. Women have a right to go top free too. I think women also have a right to have their citizenship photo taken top free if that is what they believe in. These are our bodies and who are men to tell us what to do with them…. unless they get sex change surgery.

  79. All the sexual/body/liberty rhetoric aside…the Muslim women wearing the veil (or even scarf) believe it to be a command from God.  The issue has little-to-nothing to do with a sense of modesty or whatever except to what has been allegedly commanded by God.  This entire discussion of the “woman’s body” is a side matter, Islam could’ve easily said that women can dress as they like, heck even permit them to be promiscuous.  People would follow it. Instead of dealing with this from the sides, why doesn’t anyone just nail the root of the issue, challenge Islam itself?!  Muslims are only doing what they do because they believe in Islam, and to varying degrees are wishing to implement it.  So tackle that idea, squash it once and for all… The Qur’an sets out some absurd sounding challenges, publicize a challenge and prove to the world that Islam is false.  I’m sure millions will just abandon it then and there…
    ………

  80. Wearing the veil is not so much the issue as when the face is covered.  If you want to take the oath of citizenship, we should be able to see who you are.  If you want to drive a car, it has to be safely, therefore a burqa is out of the question.  There are just situations that for safety/information purposes, the burqa is not acceptable.

    And the notion that because a western woman doesn’t wear the veil, she is not modest with her body, is insulting.  And it creates the idea among Islamic men that if a woman is showing anything they don’t have to control their impulses which is why they blame the victims of rape, etc.

    I agree that the overly superficial western view of women is not good and that we need to teach our daughters to use their brains first, but humans are hardwired to want to be beautiful/attractive and to want to look at those that are beautiful/attractive, both men and women.  Beauty was in ages past, considered an indication of health and the ability to reproduce.

  81. ‘The Quran, an enlightened text regarding gender equality…’ Huh??  I don’t know what version of the koran you read, but it sure isn’t the version I’ve read (two different translations). I could cite numerous  examples, but I’ll let you re-read it for yourself after whatever you were smoking wears off.  

  82. I have no idea why in the world we are discussing whether women should be covered or not. BOTTOM LINE IS NOT IN CANADA!!! Once a Moslem or anyone else decides to come to Canada and live here or even visit they SHOULD AND MUST OBIDE WITH CANADIAN LAWS, RULES AND MOST IMPORTANTLY CUSTOM!!!!
    Being a woman myself, I MUST SAY I FIND IT TRULY DISGUSTING THAT OTHER IMMIGRANTS ARE COMING OVER DISRESPECTING CANANDIAN TRADITIONS AND FAILING TO REALIZE IS IN 2012 not in Mohammed`s era of 1400 yrs. ago.
    If you so belive in Mohammed then go to Mohammed`s land and practice what he preached. YOU ARE NOW IN CANADA AND MOST CANADIANS FIND THIS COVERING UP TO BE DISGUSTING ESPECIALLY SINCE THEY ARE ASKED TO COVER UP IF THEY VISIT ONE OF THE PREHISTORIC COUNTRIES.
    I have no idea why the government is even supporting these types of discussions…SIMPLY HAVE THESE WOMEN AND MEN INTEGRATE IF NOT GET THEM OUT!!! IT`S THAT SIMPLE. Do what you would like to do in your birthplace NOT HERE!!!! YOU ADAPT!!! and that`s that.
    Who actually gives 2 farthings for what you believe in if you simply do not mix.
    I have read examples such as Mother Teresa being clad as such: WELL SHE WAS IN INDIA AND DRESSED LIKE ONE!!!!! I AM ALSO INDIAN LIVING IN CANADA AND DRESSES LIKE A CANADIAN NOT AS IN INDIA!!!!!
    Brainwashing doesn`t work in Canada and never will so this covering bit will come to an end eventually because the government is sane and liberal minded NOT STUPID!!!!
    Get a life people…grow up and INTEGRATE….YOU ARE NOT IN THE JUNGLE…STOP WHINING AND THANK CANADA FOR ACCEPTING YOU FROM YOUR BACKWARDS, DISRESPECTUL, DOCTRINATED AND HATEFUL SOCIETIES…..!!!!
    Why did you come here???? I was told that you have intentions of invading and finally taking over the country….OH REALLY!!!!! THINK AGAIN…EVEN YOUR WOMEN WOULD TURN AGAINST YOU WHICH THEY ARE ALREADY BEGINING TO DO….LOOK AROUND YOU AND SHOULD I SAY DON`T DO THAT… YOU JUST MIGHT END UP FLOGGING THEM INTO SUBMISSION….
    Respect Canada or GET OUT NOW!!!!

    • sad understnading

  83. Soooo… i just wanted to say that no one forces muslim women to wear a Burqa or Hijab, we wear it because it is our choice, yes it gets hot but we do it for God and for our own safety. There are alternative ways to stay cool like stay home or something and there are lighter Burqa’s soooo i dont know why thats a big deal.

    As far as the deal in France goes i don’t see why it’s such a huge deal that women should not wear their religious outfits in which they will be seen in non-stop for there darn citizenship stuff, like serioulsy come on it’s not like your aloud to see their face anyway so whats the point in taking their picture without the Niqab there are different ways of identifying people.

  84. When you spit on some culture just because it’s not white-democratic, wait for the kick in the head when this person will have enough force to do it. So next 9/11 is not far.
    Sad it is. And fuck white-democratic culture, or it is also forbidden to say so in a free society? :))))))))))) Funny freedom you have. Whities have to learn to respect those who is different and who don’t want to lick the ass of white values. Otherwise there will be no peace. But whities don’t want peace, they want cultural domination.

  85. do you think the baning of the veil is due to power, domination and autority ver muslims?

    • I think it is. I also think that by nature, human beings have problems accepting others who are different then them. This includes everyone (Muslims and non-Muslims). The West say that they are civilized (please excuse my spelling and grammar), but regardless, they wish to ban the dresscode of others, not only because in their perspective, women are being forced (I’m a Muslim women, and God said in the Quran: There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut (false) and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Surah Baqrah, Ayah 256)) but also because they feel discomfort when they talk to them and are unable to see their face. The West has failed to accept the way Muslim women mostly choose to dress. I fail to understand why people like to compare the Western Societies with the Muslim World. The west says that they accept multiculturalism, tolerate differences, etc. but you have to remember that the Muslim countries do not brag about this and do not display it. If Muslims were to actually follow Islam, I promise to you that the World would be a better place. Islam teaches men to respect women, to treat their wives with kindness. It teaches that human beings are all equal (Islam eliminiated the difference between blacks, whites, arabs, and non-arabs hundreds of years ago, when the most civilized country in the world, did it only a few decades ago with still remaining prejudice), men and women are equal, they will get equal reward. Children here learn to take care of their environment, to treat animals with care, and to treat all living things with respect, when Muslims were ordered to take care of it when Islam was formed (it’s a different story that Muslims choose not to truly follow Islam, and a lot of it has to do with mixing culture with religion). In pre-Muslim Arabia, people buried their daugters alive, they treated their wives with disrespect, fought with one another, cheated while doing business, fraud, lying, gambling, etc. all were common characteristics. Islam gave people a set of rules that told them that they could not cheat one another, they could not steal (rights, properties, objects, wives, sisters (rape, murder, adultery, fornication), they could not take the lives of innocents (in the Battle of Badr, the first battle that Muslims fought, it was explicitly forbidden to take the life of the people that were not fighting with the Muslims, to cut down trees, to kill animals, etc. (uselessly, as is done in war)). People often like to say that Islam teaches violence, but even God’s command of taking an eye for an eye, and ear for an ear, etc. He says to forgive is better. God forbade interest, why? Who benefits from it? Only those with the money, and they get richer. Which is why, God forbade it so that no one got more than what they earned. Islam, is not a religion of war, violence, and injustice. You can’t even sit down and explain its beauty in a few lines like this. To understand Islam, you have to read about Islam, not watch tv shows, and media and see, hear, or believe what the majority of the people are saying.
      Media contains a lot of propaganda, and the truth is often hidden. My apologies that I did not answer your question, but ít is really frustrating when people believe the wrong thing, without even actually understanding Islam. (To understand it, you have to read the Quran (where everything is stated for everything in daily life, how to eat, how to live, how to treat one another, how to earn, everything. The second thing to understand Islam, is to understand the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet May God’s Peace and Blessings be on him). Peace.
      I think it is. I also think that by nature, human beings have problems accepting others who are different then them. This includes everyone (Muslims and non-Muslims). The West say that they are civilized (please excuse my spelling and grammar), but regardless, they wish to ban the dresscode of others, not only because in their perspective, women are being forced (I’m a Muslim women, and God said in the Quran: There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut (false) and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Surah Baqrah, Ayah 256)) but also because they feel discomfort when they talk to them and are unable to see their face.

      The West has failed to accept the way Muslim women mostly choose to dress. I fail to understand why people like to compare the Western Societies with the Muslim World. The west says that they accept multiculturalism, tolerate differences, etc. but you have to remember that the Muslim countries do not brag about this and do not display it.

      If Muslims were to actually follow Islam, I promise to you that the World would be a better place. Islam teaches men to respect women, to treat their wives with kindness. It teaches that human beings are all equal (Islam eliminiated the difference between blacks, whites, arabs, and non-arabs hundreds of years ago, when the most civilized country in the world, did it only a few decades ago with still remaining prejudice), men and women are equal, they will get equal reward.

      Children here learn to take care of their environment, to treat animals with care, and to treat all living things with respect, when Muslims were ordered to take care of it when Islam was formed (it’s a different story that Muslims choose not to truly follow Islam, and a lot of it has to do with mixing culture with religion). In pre-Muslim Arabia, people buried their daugters alive, they treated their wives with disrespect, fought with one another, cheated while doing business, fraud, lying, gambling, etc. all were common characteristics. Islam gave people a set of rules that told them that they could not cheat one another, they could not steal (rights, properties, objects, wives, sisters (rape, murder, adultery, fornication), they could not take the lives of innocents (in the Battle of Badr, the first battle that Muslims fought, it was explicitly forbidden to take the life of the people that were not fighting with the Muslims, to cut down trees, to kill animals, etc. (uselessly, as is done in war)).

      People often like to say that Islam teaches violence, but even God’s command of taking an eye for an eye, and ear for an ear, etc. He says to forgive is better.

      God forbade interest, why? Who benefits from it? Only those with the money, and they get richer. Which is why, God forbade it so that no one got more than what they earned.

      Islam, is not a religion of war, violence, and injustice. You can’t even sit down and explain its beauty in a few lines like this. To understand Islam, you have to read about Islam, not watch tv shows, and media and see, hear, or believe what the majority of the people are saying.

      Media contains a lot of propaganda, and the truth is often hidden. My apologies that I did not answer your question, but ít is really frustrating when people believe the wrong thing, without even actually understanding Islam. (To understand it, you have to read the Quran (where everything is stated for everything in daily life, how to eat, how to live, how to treat one another, how to earn, everything. The second thing to understand Islam, is to understand the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet May God’s Peace and Blessings be on him).

      Peace.

  86. Madam Maria / Suster using HIJAB too… Why U’r not complain?,

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