I have a lot of respect for someone who stands up and asks for fairness.

And I’m glad I live in a free country where that can actually happen. We know all too well that in other places on the globe such a stand could result in prison, exile or even death.

So let’s ponder this personal issue of the niqab. A young woman who decides to wear the niqab in her teens, has not been coerced but chooses to for her own personal reasons, is in the public eye for defending her right to wear it when taking her oath of Canadian citizenship.

Here is an excerpt of a fellow Canadian’s take on this issue which I applaud:

Did not we, our parents, our grandparents, come to Canada to escape tyranny, famine, poverty with a promise of freedom to be able to worship and retain our heritage in Canada’s multi-cultural society? If you think, against the laws of this country, that Zunera Ishaq and others like her, should disregard her beliefs, then it is you who should leave, because you are missing the whole point of what it is to be a Canadian.”

Now let me try to explain how I look at this.

The way a person is dressed cannot in any way reveal his /her worth, goodness or evil intent.

I for one would not suspect a young man carrying a backpack, in a crowd of others, of carrying a weapon. But he could be. Nobody is checking the contents of his backpack. He might be stopped at an airport, and would certainly be halted at a courthouse entrance. But anywhere else he can carry whatever he wants in the backpack. (I had to turn in the nail file in my purse when I went to drop off a letter at the local courthouse, so I guess I am usually carrying a concealed weapon.)

To enter the building with me that day Zunera Ishaq (pictured above) would also have been required to answer whether she was carrying anything, be subject to walk-through and wand search. So would you. Because we are all considered equal. It has nothing to do with dress.

Just because a woman is wearing a niqab doesn’t make her a suspect. What about intentional deceit like face-altering surgery, dark glasses, longer hair or beard? Should every man have a short haircut and not be allowed even a moustache? We’ve already long established that it’s not okay to force such things, or expect them. Do we want to live with Ira Levin’s controlled society, having our arms scanned daily to check we are still the same, haven’t eaten something forbidden and above all are not trying to be different? I don’t think so! (‘This Perfect Day’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Perfect_Day)

Personal choice starts early in our society. Parents give their tiny children choice options from babyhood nowadays. It follows that those kids refuse to conform to a private school uniform’s dress code requirements, like the length of the skirt or tucking in their shirts and blouses.

If we nurture that kind of individualism, how can we challenge garments like the niqab and the burka? It’s off-balance to disapprove when a woman’s apparel covers her body, while the sight of bare flesh everywhere is not considered remarkable. To my way of thinking that fits the definition of hypocrisy.

I don’t accept the argument that if we visit a country where a woman is required to cover herself we acquiesce. The reason we do that is because there is no freedom of religion there. Here we enjoy that right, as all people in Canada do. And it’s not acceptable or correct to cast judgement or try to change another person’s way of living or dressing in a free country like ours. 

Let’s all try to be fair-minded, stay smart without being paranoid and live in peace, and remain thankful for the gift of freedom of choice that comes with being a Canadian.


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