Bye-bye burka?

A Canadian Muslim group wants Ottawa to outlaw the “medieval” garment

A Canadian Muslim group is calling on the federal government to ban burkas—insisting that the head-to-toe garment is a cultural tradition, not a religious requirement. “The burka has absolutely no place in Canada,” says Farzana Hassan of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “If a government claims to uphold equality between men and women, there is no reason for them to support a practice that marginalizes women.” Farzana says burkas and niqabs are “medieval” and “misogynist” symbols of Islamic extremism, and—despite what many Canadians may assume—are not mentioned anywhere in the Koran. Instead, Farzana says many women who cover their faces in public are forced to do so by their husbands and their families. “The Koran exhorts Muslims toward modesty, which can be expressed in a number of different ways,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be that you have to cover your face or you have to wear a virtual tent wherever you go.” The proposed ban comes amid reports that Sheikh Mohamed Tantawi, dean of Egypt’s al-Azhar university and the country’s highest Muslim authority, is poised to issue a fatwa, or religious edict, against the garments, which he says have “nothing to do with the Islamic faith.”

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