Perhaps there is an element to which the Conservatives truly believe they are fighting a cultural and religious practice that they find repugnant. Even still, that seems far beyond the point, as has been stated many times by various commentators: a conservative man forcing a woman not to wear a niqab is effectively the same violation of her liberty as a conservative man forcing her to wear the niqab. What could be more Canadian than including someone's harmless religious practices in a citizenship ceremony, or really any other facet of public life?
On February 12, Harper vowed to appeal a federal court ruling that would allow Muslim women to wear a niqab during citizenship ceremonies. Speaking to the press about the matter, Harper said, "That is not the way we do things." He added that, "This is a society that is transparent, open and where people are equal, and I think we find that offensive." This is a classic example of opportunistic feminism, which so many white men like to make use of from time to time.
We need to understand the difference between being separate and being moderate. There is also a need to understand that most Muslim women who don't wear these emblems are still followers of Islam. The conclusion of this debate should be that wearing a particular item of dress should be a person's choice. Showing yourself -- your identity -- should be a choice made by society.
I never have to think twice about getting behind the wheel whenever I need groceries, or pick up kids, or go to the bank. I do not wait for my husband, or father or brother to first give me permission to leave the house, or wait for his availability to attend to my needs. In Saudi Arabia, of course I would not have that luxury.
The 14-year-old boy in the burka buying liquor from the LCBO was a big story recently -- and the problem is not 14-year-old grade 8 boys buying booze, but of anyone wearing a burka or veil, rarely being questioned. Who can blame the LCBO cashier for not risking the wrath of human rights zealots? The greater implications of this burka-and-booze story is that it could happen anywhere. The burka is an ideal disguise in our country, because we are so sensitized to pretending it's normal, that we are reluctant to cause a scene by asking questions.
Bill C-309 states that anyone who commits an illegal act while wearing a mask at a protest can face 10 years in prison. While we are grateful for such a bill, it isn't good enough. If someone carries a loaded gun while committing a crime, it can be assumed he is willing to use it; I'd argue that any person wearing a mask or disguise at any controversial protest is up to no good, and can be assumed to be contemplating illegal behaviour.
Before the Supreme Court now is the question of whether a veil-wearing Muslim woman should be allowed to testify in court with the niqab remaining on. It is a full and complete travesty that this case has been made to be about the face covering and not about the sexual abuse this woman alleges she suffered.