Muslim Wire

Burka has no place in Canada

Posted in Politics, Society by muslimwire on October 20, 2009

The Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) is right when it says wearing the burka “marginalizes women … and has no place in Canada.”

But it may be wrong, or an error, to ban its wearing in Canada, as is being attempted in France, Italy, Denmark, Egypt and even Kuwait.

As a “freedom of choice” issue it’s pretty hard to deny or forbid women wearing the full head covering that disguises, or obliterates their identity.

Proponents of the burka (and naqib) point out, that if it’s legal to be topless in public, surely there’s an equal right to be totally covered? Maybe, but only if it doesn’t infringe on the right or obligation of others to identify the face hidden by the burka.

There’ve been cases of people insisting for “religious or cultural” reasons to wear the burka when testifying in court, or getting driver’s licences, or cashing cheques.

That sort of thing, where identity is essential.

That said, Farzana Hassan of the MCC is correct to say “gender equality is an absolute right in Canada,” and that the burka denies women this right.

An increasing number of women in Canada are being forced by husbands to wear what she calls a “loose robe and veil … setting them apart from other Canadian women … (and) have to cover your face or have to wear a virtual tent wherever you go.”

As Tarak Fatah, former leader of the MCC has pointed out, the burka or face covering is not a requirement of Islam or the Qur’an. He noted in the National Post that for over 1,400 years in the holiest of holy places for Muslims — the Grand Mosque in Mecca — “women have been explicitly prohibited from covering their faces.”

Modesty, yes, face coverings, no. The body coverings are an innovation of Saudi Arabia’s extreme Wahhabi sect, which seeks to turn Islam at war with the non-Islamic world.

Outlawed in Egypt

Today, the burka or face-covering is being outlawed in Egypt — ironically, where President Barack Obama visited earlier this year and made the extraordinary statement that because America believes in religious freedom “that is why the U.S. government has gone to court to protect the right of women and girls to wear the hijab, and to punish those who would deny it.”

But not a word said on behalf of women being forced to wear the burka.

Obama seems unaware that the burka has little to do with religion. He’d have been better advised to argue for the rights of women not to be stoned to death, or forbidden sunlight, or condemned to imprisonment in a body tent, and a variety of other indignities.

It’s more pandering to Islamic extremism. “Throwing Muslim women under the bus,” is how one critic put it.

Ms. Hassan recalled the appeal of an Ontario judge’s ruling that a woman testifying against her alleged rapist does not have the right to wear a veil in court.

A controversy erupted in Quebec when an election official ruled that Muslim women had to remove their veils when voting so their identities could be verified.

A man posing as a woman in a burka is still on the loose after robbing a Scotiabank — unreported in the mainstream media, says Fatah, due to their fear of being accused of racism and Islamophobia.

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