Muslim group calls for burqa ban in Canada

Muslim logic: ” There’s freedom of choice. Women can take their bra off and we don’t have any laws against that. So in that context a woman can choose to cover their face in this country.”

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By Charles Lewis, National Post

A Canadian Muslim group is calling on Ottawa to ban the wearing of the burka in public, saying the argument that the right to wear it is protected by the Charter’s guarantee of freedom of religion is false.

“The burka has absolutely no place in Canada,” said Farzana Hassan, of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “In Canada we recognize the equality of men and women. We want to recognize gender equality as an absolute. The burka marginalizes women.”

She said many women who cover their face in public are being forced to by their husbands and family. As a result, she argued, these women are denied opportunities and cannot live freely as other women in this society.

“The Koran exhorts Muslims toward modesty, which can be expressed in a number of different ways and it doesn’t have to be that you have to cover your face or you have to wear a virtual tent wherever you go. This is not a requirement of Islam or the Koran. We are saying this practice has become a political issue promoted by extremists and to counter this trend we are asking for a ban on the burka.”

The proposal calls for the banning of “masks, niqabs and burkas.” A niqab covers the face but allows the eyes to be seen; a burka covers the entire body and the eyes are obscured by a mesh covering.

“For me that is a huge embarrassment,” said Ms. Hassan. “It brings the kind of criticism Muslims [unfairly] face.”

Ms. Hassan said her group is bringing this up now because of an edict released this week in Egypt, by a top Muslim authority, calling for a ban on the burka.

Ms. Hassan said she is not asking for the banning of the hijab, which just covers the hair, but she would also like to see that custom vanish.

Professor Amir Hussain, who teaches theology at Loyola Marymount College in Los Angeles, but grew up in Toronto, said the fact that the burka is not in the Koran does not mean that it is not part of authentic religious practice and that many religions absorb cultural practices that eventually become sacred.

He said he does not believe there are enough women wearing the burka in Canada to call it a serious issue. But for those women who are being forced to wear it by family members, the best way to deal with it is to reach out to those women on an individual level.

He said any legal ban will infringe on fundamental democratic rights.

“In Turkey, a secular society, it is illegal to wear it. In Iran you’ll be punished if you don’t wear it. Either way imposing a belief on women.”

In the past few years, the debate over what kind of religious dress should be allowed has been loud and intense.

In June, French President Nicolas Sarkozy went so far as to call a parliamentary commission to look at whether to ban the wearing of burkas and niqabs in public. In France, religious headgear of any faith has already been banned in public schools.

Also in June, the Michigan Supreme Court amended its rules of evidence to give trial judges discretion over whether a woman can be fully veiled when testifying or when bringing accusations. The new rule did not mention Muslims but it will clearly affect Muslims.

Last year an Ontario judge said religious beliefs did not give a woman the right to wear a veil while testifying against her alleged rapist. The decision is now before the Ontario Court of Appeal.

In 2007, a Quebec election official created controversy when he said veiled Muslim women would have to take off their veil if they wanted to vote.

Wahida Valiante, chair of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said the right to wear a burka is absolutely covered by the Charter and no one can dictate what constitutes proper religious practice.

But she said by constantly bringing up a “miniscule” issue, that, too, skews society’s impression of Islam.

“If anyone ever finds this to be a huge problem I’d be the first one to participate in that discourse. There’s freedom of choice. Women can take their bra off and we don’t have any laws against that. So in that context a woman can choose to cover their face in this country.”

National Post

Photo: The issue of burkas has not been very contentious in Canada. (Brent Foster/National Post)

13 thoughts on “Muslim group calls for burqa ban in Canada”

  1. ‘Burkas should be banned in ALL Western nations’ and islam must be Banned in the Whole Wide World,the only way to really finish something,otherwise there is really nothing that’ll change.

  2. How is it that there are two types of women: One we see topless and think she has chosen to be topless and one in burka and then switch our mentality and say she is coerced to wear a burka?
    Unless you show some “meat”, you are not liberated, you are just coerced !

    It’s disturbing to me as a Canadian to read some of the remarks here, which I find offensive and insulting.
    Blutang and many others cause me to feel shame by the way they express themselves on a matter that is deeply important to so many people.
    It’s not so long ago that Christian woman wore a veil and head-covering on the Sabbath.. (Presbyterian)..and Sunday. The Bible called upon to show modesty and respect.
    Devout Jewish women are called on by Torah to keep their hair covered as a sign of self respect and modesty and there is among Jewish women, a growing movement to wear the head covering at all times in public. Would you ban those?
    Our objective as decent and caring human beings should never be to heap ridicule and insult on others with whom we disagree.
    The objective must always be to learn, understand and discuss intelligently and courteously.
    Insulting and ridiculing those who are devout…as many commenters here have been doing, is a sign of intolerance and shallow thinking.

    1. Finious, you are very welcome to be offended and insulted.

      If you are indeed willing “to learn, understand and discuss intelligently and courteously” you are very welcome to start right here. We are curious to find out where your shallow thinking and your intolerance takes us.

      Furthermore, if you are so touchy about being insulted and offended, how do you explain this:

      * The honour of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One who respects the kafirs dishonours the Muslims… The real purpose of levying jiziya on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It is intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honour and might of Islam.–

      Sufi saint Ahmad Sirhindi (1564-1624), letter #163

      Now, in the name of tolerance and mutual understanding, would you mind to explain to us why the honour of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs?

  3. Finiuos if you are a Canadian ….I’m a Inuit or a Chinesse ? I think you are only another poor muzz totally lost,out of the way in the Western World,you are so many here…….Do us a favor get back where you come from,Please.

  4. I’m a Canadian.
    The way I see it is this… “Certain ideologies, like Islam, want all of their women to dress covered from head to toe, not revealing any flesh because the men, apparently, cannot control themselves sexually,the poor things, when they see womanly flesh or long beautiful hair, and they must rape these women if they are dressed inappropriately.

    If this is the case this is a deep psychological problem that can only be cured by “not wearing the burqa” under western laws.
    Western men don’t have desires to rape women when they see them in bikinis. Why? Because we have grown accustomed to seeing them scantily clad.
    If Muslim men truly are so uncontrollable then they need psychiatric help or a drug to slow down the raging hormones.

    In my opinion they use the lack of clothing as an excuse to rape because they know they will escape justice because, in Shari’ah law, a woman needs four witnesses to prove that she was raped, and by whom and, in most cases, the men get off and the woman is then scorned for lewdness and even stoned for the crime.
    That in itself is a crime against humanity. Shari’ah law is an evil law that favors the man for a man’s world and any womanwho speaks in favor of this dress form is either being coerced or is fearful of her life. It is true that there are other cults where women dress in pioneer garb. The Amish still dress this way. But they live intheir own coimmunities and they don’t force their laws on outsiders. And they don’t rape women in our society. Why? Because they aren’t under shari’ah law but live by the words of the Hebrew/Christian bible.

    “When in Rome do as the Romans do” and everyone will get along. Or let then set up their own peaceful self-sufficient farming communes, like the Amish, and leave the rest of society alone.

    Social integration is a problem with Islam. Islam is a bricked-walled ideology, created by a selfish tyrant bent on conquest and control. Muhammad(Piss be upon him) is responsible for creating the radical monsters in al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkars, and on and on, that we have 1400 years later.

    Qur’anic indoctrination from birth is not a healthy thing for any human being and yet this is exactly Islamic policy. You are taught that “this is the way the Qur’an tells you to live and that is all you have to know. It is brainwashing plain and simple.
    I suggest that all Muslims take a really good hard look at themselves and decide whether their ideology has made their lives creative, free, and open based on their understanding of the Qur’an.

    This world is a grand place to be explored in peace, together, and when an ideology such as Islam pushes all that away in favor of prostrating oneself to total submission then it is very wrong.
    There is not a God in heaven that would ever deny that we, his greatest creation should be killing other beings and be denied the freedom to explore his creation that we are a part of.
    We helped create this because according to scripture, the Kingdom of God is within us all.

  5. I am always amused by those advocates of the burqa (like Finious) who argue that showing some skin (or in his words, “meat”) is counter to liberation and that donning the Islamist garb is a woman’s free choice. Let’s see what other free “choices” women under Islam enjoy: limited education accompanied by threat, forced marriage, polygamy, forced separation of men and women in public, inadequate medical care, unfair inheritance and custody laws, female genital mutilation, rape victims blamed for sexual assaults, sanctioned familial rape, severely restricted employment, no freedom of movement without male permission and little if any financial independence. There is only one type of woman, yet clearly, there are two types of freedom: freedom under Islamism and freedom based on the universal value of human dignity and respect.
    Finious–please don’t speak of respect and tolerance when you clearly have no understanding of their meanings. I will give you points for understanding offense though, as radical Islam is in, and of itself, offensive to women around the world.

  6. Finious doesn’t seem to understand the difference between free choice and coercion. Women who are coerced into being topless, lets say as part of a crime ring of which there are indeed many, is a crime. We find those people and arrest, try, and jail if guilty. We should do the same for people men or women, who force other women to wear Islamic clothes by threat of violence. Finious is playing the game Muslims play world wide. That if a women makes choices most people do not like, then she should be restricted in her choices in some other way people do not like. Freedom always means people do things in a manner disagreeable to some or most and indeed even repugnant. lastly, when Finious here can cite me examples of Christian or Jewish women who were murdered for not wearing some sort of viel or covering by a religious person then maybe Ill accept that absurd equivalence. But it would still take some ocnvincing as in 2009 alone in the NON-Islamic world we have had many murders of women for not obeying Islamic law. Imagine how many there are in nations where Islam has real political influence.

  7. Islam should be made Illegal…Burqua’s obviously should be banned forever. It scares the hell out of most secular citizens. If they want to wear the _u_k_n_ thing they should do it where it is part of a mid evil society… the other side of the Mediterranean!!!

  8. Islam is tolerate other religion and we believe in Jesus and other profits. Islam comes from peace, my supplication for all to be guided to the right path even people like to finish Islam from this world. peace be upon you all

  9. Aly ,
    Islam is not tolerant of other religions….. that is a blatant lie. An army of facts disagree with you .
    Islam does not come from peace…another super lie..Everyday we can read our papers and watch Tv and see that islam is involved in almost daily slaughter all around the world. It is a death cult started by a madman who raped and pillaged.
    What happened to all the Jewish people who lived in Medina? In more recent times , what has happened to all the Christians of the Middle East? They have had to flee the insanity which is islam.

  10. Theresaj,
    We need actually to re-read the history clearly, for the first thing that Islam is not tolerate other religion, this is not a lie and I will give you an example of my life in Egypt. We have in Egypt very good example between Muslims and Christian in relationships which we participate all the celebration and have good friends with each other, this true ask the relations between Muslims and christian in Egypt apart from little time in the some events. Another evidence for tolerance is when Amr Ibn ElAss entered Egypt did not force christian to enter Islam the evidence for that we have Christian and new churches in Egypt until this time ( every where). Many examples of tolerance please search for when Sallah El Din and Omar Ibn El kahtab entered Journalism what they did with other religions . Profit Mohamed warned any Muslim to harm any christian or Jewish in good Haddith,What happened to all the Jewish people who lived in Medina? we need to read fair and clear history, because profit Mohamed never break his promise to any one however break his promises. Jewish in Medina( with my respect to people) were start troubles and broke their promises with profit Mohamed . Let us say and read fair history and see things from both sides, we need peace for all really. Islam is prohibited killing innocent people what you see on TV and Media is behavior far from good Muslim behavior and please return to what Profit Mohamed said about killing innocent people. Please do not ignore Muslim innocent people who killed and abused in Iraq, Afghanistan, and occupied land….. We need together to understand how violence come to Arab world such as occupation of Islamic courtiers from Britain , France, Israel …etc that explode feeling with discrimination. Did you know that Egypt occupied by British troops for 73 years, and they left Egyptian poor, illiterate …. in addition the occupied land (Palestine) and the problem is not sorted yet, and Iraq occupation, that all make Muslims steam and feel the discrimination.
    best regards,

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