Our freedoms and security, fought and died for by Canadians and their allies, are under attack. The biggest threats to our freedom are too much government, the eco-lobby, and censors posing as human rights commissions. Our biggest security threat is Islam.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lifting the Veil

Niqābs, burqas, head scarves; call them what you will, the very fact that they exist outside of Muslim countries is a cause for concern. The problem with the religious justification for wearing head scarves is that it effectively gives a person licence to obscure their identity without having to justify the concealment. There have been documented cases from the UK and Australia of wanted criminals – even terrorists – using Muslim head scarves to hide from the police officers searching for them.


The Justification

Like many issues we face as a society, the cause of this legal grey area is the interpretation of Islamic religious principles. A significant part of Islamic teachings are to do with what is known as “hajib,” or the requirement to dress while taking into account a specifically defined sense of modesty in your appearance.

Contrary to popular belief however, there is no specific passage in the Qur’an that explicitly stipulates that women must wear a head scarf. This has been officially stated by the spokesperson for the Muslim Canadian Congress, Farzana Hassan, who also explained that it was a practice rooted in pre-Islamic Middle Eastern culture. In other words, people use religious faith to justify an exploitable mode of dress from the 5th Century. In addition to this, the definition of hajib also makes a passing and matter-of-fact reference to slaves, further calling into question its relevance in the modern world.


Citizenship Requirement

On December 12 2011, the Canadian government issued a ban on wearing any kind of face coverings when people take their oath of citizenship upon being officially sworn in as new Canadians. If the requirement is subsequently refused the prospective citizens may take the oath at another ceremony, but this allowance is only applicable once. The alternative is that they remain as permanent residents rather than full citizens.

Immigration minister Jason Kenney stated that he has received complaints from the citizenship court judges that when a person’s face is covered in such a manner, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether or not they are actually reciting the oath, or indeed that they are the person in question required to recite it in the first place.

He defended his decision by asserting that “Canadian citizenship is not just about the right to carry a passport and to vote,” and that it is a “public declaration that you are joining the Canadian family and it must be taken freely and openly.”

He also pre-emptively responded to any accusations of religious discrimination by pointing out that Muslim women are not required not to cover their faces when they perform the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca that is the final of the Five Pillars of Islam and a requirement for all Muslims to carry out at least once in their lifetime. If such a holy obligation does not require the concealment of a person’s face, then being unable to do so when reciting a single oath should be trivial in comparison.

British Development

A recent story from England reported that a Muslim woman wearing a niqāb was told to step down from jury service after refusing to remove her veil. The judge presiding over the trial – in which the defendant was standing accused of attempted murder – considered that being able to clearly see the facial expressions of the jury would be important in ensuring their impartiality. Since the woman stated that she would prefer not to remove her veil if possible, she was asked to step down.

The UK’s Judicial Studies Board states that requiring a woman to remove her veil could have "significant impact on that woman’s sense of dignity," and could serve to "exclude and marginalise” her. Their thoughts on whether or not those very same issues are also applicable against the requirement to wear a veil in the first place are not commented on. 

It follows a related incident a few years ago when a woman serving on the jury of a murder trial was caught listening to an MP3 player under her head scarf.


French Law

In France the views on Islamic dress are way ahead of the rest of the world.

In 2004 a law was passed that expressly forbids the wearing of any “conspicuous religious symbol” in its schools, including head scarves. The law was introduced as part of laïcité, the requirement of state and religion to remain separate from one another.

The law has progressed over time and it is now illegal to wear a burqa in public anywhere in France, and anyone caught doing so faces a fine of €150. If a man forces his wife to wear a burqa in public, the fine can be as much as €30,000, in addition to up to a year in prison.


Kate Westheart is a strong believer in freedom and has spent many of her five years as a freelance writer in England covering these morally challenging topics. She also champions many causes including helping addicts find a drug addiction treatment center.

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