10/13/2015 12:10 EDT | Updated 10/13/2016 05:12 EDT

Don't Make My Religion an Election Issue


A newspaper's headline -- "Harper pitting country against Muslims, some Niqab wearers say" -- made many Canadian Muslims ponder why Canadian media and politicians are deciding niqab is a Muslim issue.

Neither is niqab a requirement of Islam, nor do a majority of Canadian Muslim women wear it. Among over half-million Canadian Muslim women, only a couple hundred might wear them. Why are the opposition and most media using this issue as a Muslim issue?

Niqab is not allowed during Hujj, which is one of the five basic tenets of Islam.

Moreover, niqab is not a dress, it's a mask. Why are some politicians and media embarrassing the majority of Canadian Muslims by telling us over and over that the niqab is a dress?

The Toronto Star's editorial entitled "Can Stephen Harper stoop any lower on the niqab?" suggests that the niqab is very important for the mainstream media.

Please don't portray the niqab issue as a Muslim issue.

The vast majority of Canadian Muslims think that the traditional veil is clearly a mark of separation, and consider it an element of the fanatical side of Islam.

A tiny percentage of stubborn members of Muslim community is reinforcing an incorrect perception of Islam, causing unnecessary tension between the government and Muslim community on one hand, and between the Muslim community and society at large on the other.

There is a 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.

When a woman puts on a niqab, a burka, or a face veil, then she must grant society the right to see her identity.

Other rhetoric being used as Muslim factors in this election are Bill C-51, Bill C-24 and Bill S-7. All of these bills have become law now.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has pledged a promise to nation that he would repeal Bill C-51 if his party wins election.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has opposed Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, which allows the federal government to strip the citizenship from Canadians convicted of terrorism, treason, or espionage.

Liberal and NDP both are accusing Conservatives of practicing the politics of fear and divisiveness. On the other hand, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has accused opposition for playing politics of fear mongering among Muslims by bringing out such laws over and over in an exclusive interview on such issues with TAG TV.

Similarly, the title of Bill S-7, "The Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act," has given enough ammunition in the hands of opposition to suggest Muslims that this law is targeting them and they shouldn't vote for Conservatives.

But some analysts think that all cultures are not equal. For instance, a culture that supports honour killing could not be equated to cultures that support gender equality.

So, in that nutshell, politicians and media should not support niqab, honour killing, barbaric cultural practices and jihadi extremism directly or indirectly to grab political gains and to say that those are Muslims' requirements.

No, those are not our requirements. We are better off without them. Let Canadian Muslims live normal and regular lives like the rest of Canada.


Hijab, Burka And Niqab Use Around The World