AngryFrenchGuy

English Canada’s New Passion for the Niqab

with 327 comments

There is something profoundly dishonest about Canada’s English-language press coverage of the expulsion of Ms. Naema Ahmed from her French class in Montreal for refusing to remove her niqab–a form of dress apparently inspired by Star Wars’ Imperial guard favoured by ultra-orthodox muslim women.

According the Globe and Mail, Ms. Ahmed “was told to remove the niqab or leave because a student’s mouth must be visible so an instructor can work on pronunciation.”  This, according to the Globe, was akin to the practices “in some Arab and west Asian countries, such as the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan” and that “empowering state agents to enforce dress codes and bar the education of women is hitherto unknown in Canada.”

Sure…  Except that, as it has widely been reported in the French-language press, even though Ms Ahmed’s teacher had agreed to let her do some exercises one-on-one and give oral presentations facing away from the class,  she STILL refused to remove her veil AND demanded that male students be removed from her line of sight in the class.

The student was expelled after the teacher, the school and her classmates, who also, by the way, have the right to learn French, had made considerable efforts to accommodate her.  Her demands reached the point where other students were being penalized.

We could forgive the editors of the Globe and Mail who are so thoroughly isolated in the English language that they actually published an editorial last week against changing the word forefathers in the first line of the French lyrics of Canada’s national anthem on the grounds that “Forebears doesn’t really work, because it sounds like four bears.”  (Actually, Forefathers and Forbears are English words and therefore neither are in the French lyrics of O Canada.  In French the word is Aieux, which sounds nothing like four bears or quatre ours, but a little bit like loser.)

But the boys and girls at the Montreal Gazette certainly speak French and yet they also chose to grossly simplify a complex issue that still divides Muslim nations like Turkey and Egypt–Ms. Ahmed’s homeland–centuries after the passing of the Prophet and turn into the more familiar narrative of redneck Québécois chasing out a foreigner out “their” schools.   “Your face or your faith, she was told. She chose her faith.”

Well, if it’s OK to ask that men, be denied the privilege of contemplating your holy self, if that what your faith says, is it OK to ask that, say, Jews, gentiles and infidels sit in the back of the class?  Maybe that they try not to touch to many things?

Just last year the case of a woman refusing to remove her niqab in a courtroom was in the news in Ontario.  No Canadian newspaper thought this story worthy of an editorial.  In fact, a quick search of “Quebec +niqab” and “Ontario+niqab” on the Canadian Newstand search engine tells me that the Canada’s English media has already killed four times as many trees over the Quebec incident.

Four times?  Surely the right to cover your face in court will have consequences on our justice system and society at least as important as the right to learn French with a mask.

What’s going on here is that the “French people Bad, Canada Rocks!” bit is just English Canada’s natural defence mechanism against controversial issues that it is not mature enough to face yet.  But it doesn’t work.  These things are complicated and repeating “Canada is bilingual and multicultural” over and over again won’t make them go away.

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Written by angryfrenchguy

March 14, 2010 at 12:08 am

327 Responses

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  1. edward wrote:
    “In the US the anti-evolution, anti-humanism factions in Texas have succeeded in removing reference to Thomas Jefferson from history textbooks because Jefferson supported separation of church and state. These same individuals have advanced the teaching of “intelligent design” as an equivalent alternative to evolution.”

    And then, we wonder why people around the world find that Americans (I mean those from the US, not the other ones living on the American continent) are stupid. I am not saying they are, but many people the world over do. To me, there is a difference between stupid and endoctrinated.

    There is a large Haitian community in Montreal, and naturally, there is a lot of racism too (not that Haitians don’t take part in it just as much). Many say that Haitians are stupid people. I would say they are uneducated people and if they had better access to education starting in early childhood, they would be just as smart as anybody else. Same for Americans. However, it looks like we are all slowly slipping backwards, you guys with creationism, us with abuse of so-called religious freedom.

    You guys really should get rid of the creationists down South. This doesn’t only make you look stupid, it does in fact make your children stupid. This is heading the same direction those Islamists have been going for quite a while now…

    Hope you can read between the lines and aren’t offended by my very direct comment.

    AngryFrenchGirl

    March 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm

  2. FFeC,
    You make a subtle point about “religious belief” that I am not entirely sure I “get”.

    It is that this term imparts some kind of mystical special protection on one class of untestable and therefore non-rational — let’s not use the term irrational which has disrespectful connotations — beliefs?

    That is, for historical reasons traditional religious organizations have been granted the special right to hold certain “beliefs” which a priori are in fact not really different from non-religious irrational beliefs like the tooth fairy or the flat Earth or “supply-side economics”? Yet with the exception of the last example these are not politically protected “beliefs”?

    Is it something like that?

    edward

    March 28, 2010 at 4:24 pm

  3. FFeC: Amen to your post at 3:55.

    To carry your islamophobic analogy one step further, the one advantage we have here in Canada in dealing with fundamentalist zealots is that we have not simultaneously protected their rights to bear arms.

    edward

    March 28, 2010 at 4:29 pm

  4. edwaaard!
    @ 3:18

    “an abuse of the freedom they have been given to practice their religions.”

    can i gently remind you ( even if what you wrote is a permutation of another’s thoughts) –

    nobody has been given any rights – the rights existed before anyone or any government contemplated repressing them. our charter and the usa constitution confirm this.

    i think the law proposed is akin to cracking a peanut with a sledgehammer with the odds of it ever being used – one in a million.

    johnnyonline

    March 28, 2010 at 5:34 pm

  5. AngryFrenchGirl writes:

    You guys really should get rid of the creationists down South. This doesn’t only make you look stupid, it does in fact make your children stupid.

    Now you know how the rest of the civilized world looks at Quebec with their repressive language laws.

    You thought you got rid of your own crazy creationist beliefs that the Catholic Church burdened you with when the Quiet Revolution came along but, in reality, the rejection of the church left a big gap in the mythology department in Quebec.

    So what happened? A whole slew of non-religious based myths have, by necessity, replaced the religious ones.

    “Jews have horns” was replaced by “Quebec is surrounded by a menacing Sea of English.”

    “To be a good Catholic and go to heaven I must have 27 children or else I will go to hell” was replaced by “the hundreds of billions of dollars in equalization we, Quebec, have received over the past 30 years is in spite of the fact that Quebec gives more to Ottawa than it receives.”

    “The anglos are Protestant devils who we must not mix with” was replaced by “The anglos are the best treated minority in the world.”

    “In order to keep our francophone Catholic bloodline pure we must keep the English and the immigrants out of our schools” was replaced by “We must force immigrants into our French schools and assimilate them against their will because we aren’t fucking enough to keep the race going.”

    Tony Kondaks

    March 28, 2010 at 6:39 pm

  6. i don’t know who you are quoting in the post – but it certainly is not a question of frequency in copulation –

    if one scratches the surface – it becomes easy enough to point fingers at abortion.

    i will underline this observation with my preference for individuals to have choice. the big question is why do individuals find themselves in the position of making a choice and why do they terminate their offspring?

    is that question scientifically and politically correct enough for everyone tonite?

    johnnyonline

    March 28, 2010 at 7:13 pm

  7. Tony,
    So is access to abortion a god-given right? ;-)

    edward

    March 28, 2010 at 7:34 pm

  8. I meant that last comment for Johnny.

    For Tony, I would say this…
    Quebec is seen by most of the world not as a backward seat of ignorance, but rather as a quaint and unique French cultural island within the sea (menacing or not) of Anglo North America.

    That rather positive image would cease to exist if Quebec were to give up its “repressive language laws” and just try to integrate with the Anglo majority.

    edward

    March 28, 2010 at 7:40 pm

  9. edward,
    “don’t provoke” – i can hear anthony quinn say.
    and no provocation taken. ;-)
    people make choices – sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.

    what? you want i should tell you what to do?

    johnnyonline

    March 28, 2010 at 7:54 pm

  10. I know this comment will be on a different level from what you are talking about, but I think I would have a lot to learn from Haitians. The wisdom of the older people . . .medicinal plants, spiritual trances, imperial history (I don’t think most realized that the US occupation was a lot like slavery and that, once again, there are 20,000 troops there today, last I checked).

    I know you’re not calling Haitians stupid, just that they are generally viewed as stupid by those here. And I think most people cannot even recognize the paradigm that they are in, themselves.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    March 29, 2010 at 7:58 am

  11. edward wrote:
    “You make a subtle point about “religious belief” that I am not entirely sure I “get”.”

    I am not sure if this question was directed at me, but just in case… Religion, belief, faith and confession are all words with different meaning that are interchangeably used not only by those who are not even qualified to use them, but in general. A person can be religious without actually believing–many Catholics in Quebec were non-believers yet went to mass, baptized their children and did everything to satisfy the Church’s requirements, either because being Catholic was a way of life to them and despite their not actually believing they did agree with those values, or because they had no choice (I know some older people who complied with the church merely out of fear of being cast out of their communities). So, these people were (are) religious in the sense that they practice their religion, yet they don’t have a belief. On the other hand, there are also people who believe in the One True God that is omnipresent in the bible, yet have never been to a church in their life. These people are not religious, but they are believers. Thus, a belief doesn’t necessarily have to be religious. This is why it bothers me that the word “belief” is almost exclusively used along with the word “religious”–as though those who believe were only allowed to believe if they practice religion as well. This would then disregard the rights of those who believe without practicing. In my opinion, non-practicing believers should have the same rights are practicing believers. In other words, not being baptized should not exclude one’s religious freedom.

    So, yes, adding “religious” to “belief” does impart special rights upon those who actually practice their religion, and ignores the rights of those who believe but don’t practice. Only if we took away “religious” and used “belief” on its own would we be fair.

    “…the one advantage we have here in Canada in dealing with fundamentalist zealots is that we have not simultaneously protected their rights to bear arms”

    This is not really true. What keeps an extremist from attesting that it is part of their religion to carry arms? There is no clear definition of what is part of their religion and what isn’t, and if a court of law based their definition on how Islam is practiced the world over, they would have to conclude that bearing arms is intimately linked to Islam. We don’t want to go there. As Tancrède pointed out a while ago, while it is true that murder is illegal and thus burning witches at the stake is illegal as well, this takes nothing away from the fact that the killing of witches is entrenched in religion, which in turn is protected by the Charter. A lot of murky definitions here, which is precisely what I am uncomfortable with. I will not feel safe from armed extremists until there is either a law specifically forbidding them from ever even thinking of bearing arms on Canadian soil or the Charter is modified in a way that allows to believe and practice privately but defends from doing it publicly (no more kirpan at school, no more washing of feet in public restroom sinks, no more turban-wearing RCMP officers and no more Mormons/Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching in metro stations).

    @ Tony Kondaks:
    Not that your post is in any way pertinent here, I will be nice and leave you the benefit of the doubt, if only to prove you wrong.

    I don’t know where you got the idea of Quebec being perceived as you describe, but for the record, even the British now require that whoever enters the country to live there must speak English BEFORE entering the country (this is much more severe than what we do in Quebec–at least here, you and I pay so that Naima eventually learns French long AFTER she moves here). Same for France, same for several other countries. Quebec having French as its sole official language, I don’t see why it would be wrong for them to protect it, especially while you don’t seem to find fault in other countries doing so at the same time. Oh, I see–Great Britain’s sole official language is English. That makes it all right, doesn’t it?

    Thomas Dean Nordlum wrote:
    “I know you’re not calling Haitians stupid, just that they are generally viewed as stupid by those here. And I think most people cannot even recognize the paradigm that they are in, themselves.”

    I totally agree with you on this, especially the last sentence. However, would you agree that this image or reputation of stupidity is helping Haitians in any way? I can’t condemn someone having a problem with a person who can’t read and write, especially in a society where, contrarily to parts of Haiti, you get nowhere if you can’t read and write, as much as they may be medicinal herb experts.

    Of course, I would prefer that same person to try and help that Haitian rather than call him/her stupid and leave it at that. In my neighbourhood, however, this is very hard to do, as these here Haitians are too proud and consider that any attempt to help them is either an attempt to belittle them or an attempt to make them whiter. The ghettos of Montreal are not helping anybody, and this is once again a question of willingness to integrate (back to square one, guys).

    AngryFrenchGirl

    March 29, 2010 at 11:34 am

  12. I think it really depends on what level you mean by ”helping them”. What I mean is how you view what ‘success’ is. Where we are now as a society, success is more money, bigger house, job titles, etc . . .now, I know these things are supposed to lead to more money, hence more ability or access to a better life, to learning, developing and evolving as a person, etc . . .but I think one cannot do both, evolve / develop and be a workaholic.

    And of course, I do not know the answers. I do generally think it is the Haitian’s (or any immigrant’s) responsibility to integrate into their pays d’accueil, and I am sure a great many do. I don’t see any great immigrant presence where I live near promenade masson / saint michel though.

    Anyway, all I want to say is that I am leaning more towards a paradigm shift in how I view success; rather than more money I am wondering about self-fulfillment and spiritual development and leaning how to best take care of my machine (I call my body that). Pas mal esotérique, non? ;-) So while on the current definition of success, yes, the Haitians are way low and have nothing to offer and are just poor people wanting a life where they can have more things and be more physically comfortable, like everyone. But I have been thinking more and more that it is better to have an exchange and since we cannot see what is of value chez les haïtiens, then yeah, we wouldn’t be able to recieve it because we can’t see it anyway. This may also cause one to pose to themself the hard question about what they really have to offer besides a chance at material wealth. Are you following me? I know I am not being very clear, it’s hard to write about.

    Yes, of course we need to be literate in order to learn and then to grow and become more consious. Work is just a means to that goal, I think, to feed and clothe and shelter our machines. But I think most people view work as the end-goal, hence, being literate is necessary to the goal of work, rather than going beyond. Now, if Haitians are working on a different level of knowledge that has nothing to do with professional networking and making money, then I think it may be partly the person from this society’s inability to see. I know I am really going down the rabbit hole, sorry, but trying to answer your question.

    I am just remembering a lot lately about how I viewed and treated the people in my village in Mauritania when I lived there for two years in 2004-06. I feel that, in retrospect, I missed out on a lot of traditional wisdom because I wasn’t able to see it at the time and also wasn’t prepared to do what needed to be done to get it if I could see it (learn to speak a local language well instead of just using French, get over the fact that material wealth and cleanliness doesn’t necessarily have to do with spiritual wealth, gain trust of those around me to avoid scams, etc . . .) am I making any sense??

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    March 29, 2010 at 12:06 pm

  13. AngryFrenchGirl writes:

    I don’t know where you got the idea of Quebec being perceived as you describe, but for the record, even the British now require that whoever enters the country to live there must speak English BEFORE entering the country (this is much more severe than what we do in Quebec–at least here, you and I pay so that Naima eventually learns French long AFTER she moves here). Same for France, same for several other countries. Quebec having French as its sole official language, I don’t see why it would be wrong for them to protect it, especially while you don’t seem to find fault in other countries doing so at the same time. Oh, I see–Great Britain’s sole official language is English. That makes it all right, doesn’t it?

    1) I personally have no problem with Quebec requiring that immigrants know French before entering the country…but Quebec does. You see, AngryFrenchGirl, Quebec is not a country and, therefore, can’t require anything of its immigrants such as requiring that they speak French because immigration is controlled by the federal government.

    Certainly, there already is in place administrative agreements between Quebec and Ottawa that requires that the Immigration Department seek out, encourage, and give preference to immigrants with a knowledge of French. And that those immigrants come to Canada with the intention of settling in Quebec. Why do you think we have so many Haitian immigrants as well as those from Arab countries, many of which (like Lebanon) have a tradition of speaking French?

    The problem, of course, is that Quebec is a province, not a country and, as such, mobility rights come into play allowing French speaking immigrants once they agree to come and settle in Quebec to get up and go to Toronto where their prospects are much better. Better to go to Toronto with limited English than stay in Quebec with fluency in French.

    Being a province is a problem for Quebec. That’s why I strongly advocate that Quebec separate and become its own country so that it can control things like immigration.

    2) You also say you don’t see what is wrong with Quebec protecting French (I assume you mean “the government of Quebec”). Well, neither do I…as long as Quebec does it without breaking the law, specifically the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. And, well, gosh, there’s that pesky clause that says you can’t discriminate based upon language. So that pretty much shoots to hell all of Bill 101.

    3) As for what the rest of the world thinks of Quebec? Well, don’t take my word for it. Next weekend take a trip to Burlington or Plattsburg, hide your car so that no one can see your license plate so that the natives don’t know you’re from Quebec, and ask people yourself what they think of Quebec.

    Tony Kondaks

    March 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm

  14. AFGirl,
    I don’t believe that for even one moment the reasonable accommodation debate was ever about religion being used as an excuse to break criminal law. Never.

    The Kirpan in the classroom is the closest thing, and in that case we are talking about something as sharp as a butter knife that is never even removed from its scabbard. Using or even threatening someone with the kirpan would be a violation of criminal law that would get you thrown in jail. Period.

    Don’t make more out of this than it is.

    edward

    March 29, 2010 at 6:18 pm

  15. “For Tony, I would say this…
    Quebec is seen by most of the world not as a backward seat of ignorance, but rather as a quaint and unique French cultural island within the sea (menacing or not) of Anglo North America.
    That rather positive image would cease to exist if Quebec were to give up its “repressive language laws” and just try to integrate with the Anglo majority.”

    I tend to agree with this Edward, and I have travelled all over the world. Some people may see this determination to survive as a bit eccentric (which may not be totally positive), but also admirable.

    Acajack

    March 30, 2010 at 8:48 am

  16. “3) As for what the rest of the world thinks of Quebec? Well, don’t take my word for it. Next weekend take a trip to Burlington or Plattsburg, hide your car so that no one can see your license plate so that the natives don’t know you’re from Quebec, and ask people yourself what they think of Quebec.”

    I don’t necessarily share your view that most people in Plattsburgh or Burlington have a negative view of Quebec (and even if they did, it probably wouldn’t have anything to do with the language laws because most Americans don’t care what language is used locally beyond their borders), but the most important point to make is that…

    Plattsburgh and Burlington DO NOT equal “the rest of the world”! Not quite!

    Acajack

    March 30, 2010 at 8:50 am

  17. “Next weekend take a trip to Burlington or Plattsburg, hide your car so that no one can see your license plate so that the natives don’t know you’re from Quebec, and ask people yourself what they think of Quebec.”

    I’ve only had positive experiences in Vermont and upstate New York. People there ususally think Montreal and Québec is cool, and usually admit they feel a little retarded at not being able to say a single word in the language of their nxt door neighbours while 99% of the Québécois who come their way speak English fine.

    I fear you are confusing the opinions you were hearing amongst your particular geriatric age group during a very specific (circa Oka to the referendum) period of emotional Québec-bashing by English Canada’s press with the true sentiments of our American neighbours.

    angryfrenchguy

    March 30, 2010 at 11:12 am

  18. AFG:

    I’m 55, so hardly “geriatric” (by the way, you get to this age faster than you think. One day you turn 55 and say “what the fuck? How did I get here?”).

    My experience was during the ’80s and it was incredibly consistent in Vermont, Maine, all of the Maritime provinces, and Ontario. I travelled extensively on business through all of those areas and the complaints about Quebec were the same.

    I am convinced that the Quebec government — probably their tourist office — have done studies on this but no one in the media has bothered to do a Freedom of Information request on it. The sentiment was just too pervasive.

    Your experiences, AFG, were probably because the people you were talking to knew you were from Quebec. Try it again but this time don’t let people know you’re from Quebec and see what they think of the place.

    Tony Kondaks

    March 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm

  19. “My experience was during the ’80s and it was incredibly consistent in Vermont, Maine, all of the Maritime provinces, and Ontario. I travelled extensively on business through all of those areas and the complaints about Quebec were the same.
    I am convinced that the Quebec government — probably their tourist office — have done studies on this but no one in the media has bothered to do a Freedom of Information request on it. The sentiment was just too pervasive.
    Your experiences, AFG, were probably because the people you were talking to knew you were from Quebec. Try it again but this time don’t let people know you’re from Quebec and see what they think of the place.”

    I know that you try to link everything to the language laws (from potholes to ice storms to the Canadiens’ fortunes to Céline Dion’s inability to have a second child), but geez…

    Certain people in New England may indeed have a negative image of Quebec but this is typical of border areas where different groups of people intermingle. They have probably met or witnessed Quebecers in action who were jerks or had behaviour that seemed odd to them. You get the same thing in Europe with France-Germany, France-UK, Germany-Poland, etc. There are even people in Great Lakes states who find Canadians from Ontario to be particularly annoying.

    It has nothing to do with language laws. Trust me. Americans, even those right at the border, just don’t care. I will agree that there is a difference on this front between ROC Canadians and Americans. ROC Canadians CAN have a negative image of Quebec because of the language issue. Unlike Americans, they have a stake in this since it is their country after all and the language issue is hyper-emotionally tied up with the Canadian unity/Quebec separation file for most of them.

    But for Americans, Canada is a foreign country. They may not make many efforts to speak the local language but neither do they expect it to feel just like home like many ROC Canadians travelling through Quebec might.

    Regarding your questioning people with a “Fill her up, and gimme a six pack of Pabst and by the way, wadda y’all think of those Frenchies in Quebec?”… did you ever think that people might just be doing what I call “nice but ignorant person’s sucking up”?

    Americans don’t really care about Quebec’s language laws but they may know that there are issues between Quebec and the ROC. They may have no interest in taking sides, but if you pose as a ROC Canadian who has issues with Quebec (since you are asking a total stranger in a foreign country what they think of a part of another country!) they may repeat anti-Quebec crap they have heard in order to get on your side and keep you happy, especially if they are business owners.

    I speak unaccented neutral North American English and French with a Quebec accent. I have had people abroad give me both sides depending on whether they thought I was a francophone or an anglophone Canadian.

    When people abroad (including in the U.S. BTW) have picked up that I am a francophone, some have said some really disparaging things about English-speaking Canadians, about how they are narrow-minded, that they are boneheads for not speaking even a little bit of French, that it was totally legitimate for Quebec to maintain its Frenchness, that anglos in Quebec who weren’t happy with French should GTF out. You name, I’ve heard it.

    And if people concluded I was English Canadian, they’d spout the same stuff you heard.

    Acajack

    March 30, 2010 at 2:05 pm

  20. Acajack–at the risk of being picky with you, the *real* foreign country north of the border for us here in the US is Québec, not Canada. Going from Buffalo to Welland isn’t a major step culturally, or at least I don’t feel the need to pack my pocket French dictionary if I find it necessary to make that trip. Going from Plattsburgh to St. Jean is another matter entirely.

    littlerob

    April 2, 2010 at 7:21 am

  21. “Acajack–at the risk of being picky with you, the *real* foreign country north of the border for us here in the US is Québec, not Canada. Going from Buffalo to Welland isn’t a major step culturally, or at least I don’t feel the need to pack my pocket French dictionary if I find it necessary to make that trip. Going from Plattsburgh to St. Jean is another matter entirely.”

    I don’t necessarily disagree with you (though some Ontarians might), but is there a point in there about my post that I am missing, mon ami? Sorry if I am too blind to see it.

    Acajack

    April 6, 2010 at 9:52 am

  22. Acajack–in your post you described Canada as a “foreign country” for us in here in the US. Québec is, to be sure, but the ROC–culturally, anyway–not so much.

    littlerob

    April 6, 2010 at 3:41 pm

  23. OK, I see your point.

    I would say that most Americans probably don’t know that much about Canada prior to the first time they cross the border. So in that sense, most probably don’t know what to expect, regardless of whether they cross into BC or Quebec.

    I worked in tourism in Ontario in my youth and one of the most frequent comments we would get from Americans was how similar it was to “home” and how they expected it to be a lot more different than it actually was.

    Granted, regardless of their initial expectations, those Americans who cross into Quebec do of course find it to be a more “foreign” place than those who cross into Ontario.

    Another thing I noticed was that many Americans who initially arrive in Ontario are lulled into thinking that all of Canada is not going to feel “foreign” to them, and then are a bit shocked when they eventually
    cross into Quebec.

    Acajack

    April 7, 2010 at 3:37 pm

  24. I have more than once encountered fellow citizens who experienced precisely the shock you describe during their soujourns in Québec, this whether they entered there through Ontario or not.

    “B-b-but everything’s in *French!* Nobody on the street speaks English!”

    littlerob

    April 7, 2010 at 4:58 pm

  25. I feel the pressing need to weigh in from the west coast. As a female, born in BC, Canada, frankly, I’m sick of seeing more and more niqabs in and around the city of Vancouver. Say what you will about religious ‘freedoms’, but let’s admit it, the niqab is mandated by an interpretation only, an extreme fundamentalist interpretation, of the Quran and practice of the Islam faith. As a woman, in secular Western society, I see the niqab as representing nothing but abject, patriarchal subjugation of women. As a Canadian woman of the 21st century, the practice strikes me as nothing short of medieval. What are we fighting in Afghanistan again for? Oh right, the extreme fundamentalist interpretation and practice of Islam by the Taliban.

    Our Canadian female ancestors, Nelly McClung et al (if you’re not familiar with them, look them up), did not fight a mere 90 odd years ago for the franchise of women in Canada to see female Islam followers practicing this deeply offensive practice today in Canada. If Muslim women wish to practice such extreme interpretations of their religion, please, remain away from Canada. In Canada, this practice can be seen for nothing less than what it symbolizes to a Western woman – the utter subjugation of the female half of our population and deeply offensive on many fronts. This is wrong in the Canada I wish to remain, egalitarian and secular.

    Aurora B

    June 8, 2011 at 11:40 pm

  26. Oh Tony, your Québec-bashing is showing. Alot.

    If you cared enough to drop your xenophobia and Québec-bashing for a moment, you’d see how Québec has one of the most generous laws towards linguistic minorities in the world.

    The USA has much more restrictive language laws than Québec ever had.

    Don’t believe me? Try to go through all of your scholarship through the medium of Spanish in public-funded schools in the USA. Good luck, there is no such right, only limited concessions, most often for bilingual education or optional additional language classes.

    Try to access any or all government service in Spanish. Good luck. Spanish has alot more weight in the US than English has in Québec, yet they don’t have half the linguistic rights Anglophones have here.

    Take a trip to France and try to have government service in Basque or Occitan. Good luck, you’d have no such right.

    Go to Italy and check what is, in reality, the extent of language rights of Occitan-speaking, Boarisch-speaking, Friulan-speaking Sicilian, etc minorities. They can count themselves lucky to have education through Italian with a couple of optional hours of their language thrown somewhere during the week in highschool.

    So enough with your lies, Québec gives many more rights to linguistic minorities than the overwhelming majority of the world. Espcially compared to Canada and USA.

    StopTheLies

    December 13, 2011 at 6:10 am

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    December 31, 2013 at 5:35 pm


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