Niqab - Part of a Larger Issue

The Niqab has become an issue in the current federal election, with the Liberal and NDP along with many media outlets jumping at the opportunity to pin the usual ‘racist!’ and ‘intolerant!’ labels on the Conservatives.

Much to their surprise, these hysterical people ran straight into the wall of public opinion which heavily favours the Tories on the subject.  For the life of them, they cannot understand it.

The debate over wearing the niqab at citizenship ceremonies is really just a symptom of larger issue: this hits right at the heart of multiculturalism.

For decades, Canada has prided itself on its inclusive policy which, as opposed to the US-style ‘melting pot’ where immigrants are expected to assimilate their culture into the fabric of American society, encourages new Canadians to keep the values and traditions of their homeland.

Whereas assimilation is like adding a tasty ingredient to the mixing bowl, multiculturalism is like a pile of Lego bricks which, it is assumed, will all fit perfectly together to create a wonderful nation.

The problem is, not all the pieces are always going to fit or go well together, and the end result can be a rather ugly creation.

Multi-culti supporters often harken back to immigrants of the past, pointing at those who have settled in Canada decades ago as evidence of success.  Two groups which are most often mentioned around here are the Chinese and Italians.

I will concur that many if not most major Canadian cities have sections in which foreign cultures are the norm.  Edmonton has a ‘Chinatown’, ‘Little Italy’, and a ‘French Quarter’ among others.

But to suggest that ALL Chinese descendants live in few block radius of Chinatown is ridiculous.  They have assimilated into Canadian society.

And most importantly, these and other immigrant groups have blended their traditions into the Canadian fabric.

The debate over the niqab has become a clash over what it symbolizes.  Many supporters have argued on the basis of religion, which is completely false.  The directive to ‘dress modestly’ is wide open to interpretation to be sure, but a command for women to cover their faces is nowhere to be found in the Koran.

So then the argument is that the face-covering garment is a cultural symbol and, as we are a tolerant society, we must respect that symbol.

But what does it actually symbolize?

Many women who don the niqab come from countries where they are forced to wear one, lest they face the consequences which can and have included torture and death.

The news is filled with stories of women who were subjected to public stoning for such crimes as being in public without wearing a niqab.  Of course, in these places women have been tried and found guilty for being raped.  That says it all when it comes to their ‘rights’.

These women are often undereducated because their country of origin does not recognize a woman’s right to education, not to mention other human rights which they are denied.

The fact is, in much of that part of the world their testimony in a courtroom is worth ½ of that of a man’s.

Here in Canada, social justice warriors have decided to take the position that it’s a woman’s ‘right’ to wear this symbol of oppression, while those opposed to the face-covering claim to do so in the name of women’s rights.  It’s actually quite the role reversal from traditional stereotypes.

The issue has created such strange bedfellows that Harper’s Conservatives, once little more than filler on the ballot, have risen in the polls and sit in top spot in Quebec.  Quebec.

It seems the Canadian public, which the majority is opposed to the niqab at official ceremonies, seeks a balance where one has the freedom to wear their cultural symbols (as oppressive as they may be), yet respect Canadian tradition and values when required.

That means at citizenship ceremonies.

On this issue, instead of siding with the liberal elites, I believe I will defer to someone more intimately familiar with the subject and who is opposed to the niqab: Malala.

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