The Politics of the Niqab

Dave 07

It’s hard to believe that a head covering can become an issue in an election campaign, but the Niqab has managed to do it.

Newspapers carry a couple of articles each day, usually opposing the Conservatives in their opposition to wearing the Niqab during the Canadian citizenship ceremony, and it comes up in every party leader’s debate.

Earlier this week, Barbara Kay wrote an excellent National Post article on 10 reasons to ban the Niqab, and I agree with most of them. However I’d like to propose an overriding principle that suggests we should allow the Niqab, and that principle is tolerance.

I wrote a blog last Canada Day called: “Pursuing Tolerance, or why I believe in the Niqab. https://iwuz.me/2015/07/01/pursuing-tolerance-or-why-i-believe-in-the-niqab/ A few months of reflection has made me realize that the second phrase should have read: “or why I’m prepared to put up with the Niqab.” I am quite aware that that stance will still put me offside with the vast majority of Canadians, including a whole lot of Muslims. So be it.

Many people in our society understand tolerance to mean affirmation of an idea or practice, when in fact it simply means putting up with them. As a Canadian, I’m prepared to put up with, or tolerate, many ideas or practices that I find stupid, ill advised, indefensible, obnoxious, or even, intolerant. I view wearing the Niqab and Burqa to be all of the above.

And as such, I believe they are a valuable reminder to all Canadians of the inferiority of Muslim societies to Canadian society. That’s why most Muslims move here.

But that’s not the main reason I support allowing a woman to wear a face covering during the citizenship ceremony, provided, that she is identified, open face, by a court official prior to the ceremony, as is the current practice.

It’s because I too have some beliefs and associations that some would and do find obnoxious, and some actually find intolerable. Here’s just one illustration.

Most of our eight grandchildren have, at one time or another attended a Christian Charter school. I support that, and I also support public education dollars following the students to those schools.

Our children pay provincial education tax, exactly like the family next door. Yet some people – including some politicians – insist that our children must pay education taxes to support the public school system, plus pay the full cost of educating their own children. That’s discrimination built on a foundation of intolerance.

Christian schools approach education from a particular philosophical worldview, but then, all schools do. The schools our grandchildren attended are open to all students of any or no religion, and they adhere to the provincial curriculum. Studies also show that most faith based schools produce at least as well educated and socialized students as regular (secular) schools.

Unfortunately, there are many more glaring examples of intolerance in Canadian society. Think of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s barring – by fiat – all those who do not agree with his pro-abortion stance, from running as Liberal candidates. Canadian universities now routinely bar speakers whose views do not accord with the (usually) left-wing stance of the administration or the student council; and some Canadian law societies feel they have the right to dictate the social values of law schools.

I’m not prepared to spend moral capital by refusing to tolerate the Niqab when there are far more fundamental battles to be fought.

NiqabSo far in Canada, the Niqab has been little more than an eyesore. But I want to be perfectly clear, that the moment that a Niqab or Burqa is used as a disguise in the commission of a major violent crime, or a terrorist act, the game will have changed.

By having tolerated the Niqab for 30 seconds during a citizenship ceremony, Canadian society will have amassed the moral capital to ban it outright should it be found to present a danger to society.

And finally, we don’t need to provide the radical fringe with martyrs. Forcing a tiny minority of Muslim women who choose to wear a religiously unnecessary bag over their heads, to uncover, is a waste of our time.

Let’s tolerate them, but throw our open and strong support behind the vast majority of Muslims who are just patriotic Canadians.

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