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Should Canada ban Islamic face veils?

11 April 2011 General 12 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

by: Wency Leung

France’s ban on Islamic face veils came into force today, and already, at least two veiled women have reportedly been detained for protesting the new law.

The ban, which carries a fine of 150 euros ($207), has reignited the debate over where to draw the line between protecting a nation’s values and ensuring individuals’ freedom of expression.

Those supporting the ban say the veils oppress women and don’t fall in line with the country’s values of gender equality. Under France’s new law, anyone who forces women to wear a veil can face up to a year in prison and a fine 30,000 of euros.

But others, including some women who wear the veils themselves, believe the ban infringes on their freedom of religion and smacks of anti-Islamic sentiment.

In Canada, calls to introduce a similar ban have also prompted heated debate. For years, the Muslim Canadian Congress has urged for an end to the practice of wearing face-concealing niqabs and burkas, arguing the veils aren’t required under Islam, but are rather symbols of religious extremism and misogyny.

Canadian women who say they choose to wear the veils, however, argue that far from oppressing them, the face coverings guard their modesty.

Here, as in France, those who actually wear the veils are few.

Should Canada consider following France’s lead? Or would doing so put unfair restrictions on a minority?

Original post: Should Canada ban Islamic face veils?


  1. This is a STUPID, Islamaphobic debate!!

    No more needs to be stated….

  2. I understand that as a muslim woman myself, I agree that neither the niqab nor the burka is a reguired islamic garment; however, i am extremely disappointed in the decision of the Muslim Canadian Congress… if it really were “muslim” then it would accept a wide range of interpretations on modesty and covering oneself !! There are muslim women out there who truly hold the position that the niqab or the burka actually serve as a refuge for them, and it does not incarcerate them ! Although I do hold a strong apathy against the burka.. even so, we should be alert and open minded and give a chance for this women to speak about their convictions on islamic clothing. No more judgements !!!!

  3. Actually, I agree with the Muslim Canadian Congress for making a statement, but, at the same time, I disagree with the idea of the government making a law against it. These things are usually negotiated, and work themselves out, within the social mileu; laws of this sort are likely to create unnecessary backlash.

  4. Freedom of Choice! NOW!

  5. I agree with the Muslim Canadian Congress. When coming to a new country, you should assimilate into the culture. It doesn’t mean you can’t practice your faith, just don’t draw great attention to yourself.

    If you had a female canadian friend who liked to wear shorts and a t-shirt when it is warm out and they were going to Saudi Arabia would you tell them just wear what they want? I don’t think so. Why? Because you want them to show respect for the Saudi culture. In the West the culture says only robbers & bandits hide their faces. It is not a sign of modesty, but a sign of someone trying to hide who they are.

    Also, if you wear a mask, everyone stares at you. If you don’t, nobody notices you.

  6. Sadams is a person of great wisdom. When you cover from head-to-toe you become a non-entity, drawing unwanted attention to yourself.

  7. sadams, you have a great point. where is the outcry for freedom in the muslim world. try to dress as you choose in iran, saudi arabia, even the great multi-ethnic indonesia. didn’t gwen stefani have to change her dress to do a show, maybe it was beyonce, or pink or all three. could have been malaysia. anyways muslims seem to only want the west to be free, while the muslim world can talk about traditions. although doesn’t turkey ban the headscarf in universities? haven’t they since ’23, where is the muslim outcry?

    should banks be allowed to disallow someone entering with their face covered? next thing you know disney is getting sued for not wanting their ticket takes to be covered head to toe wwhile greeting guest. here in florida a woman sued saying she could not show her face on her driver’s licsence, really.

    i love the end of the article, “Here, as in France, those who actually wear the veils are few.” are they implying there is no need for the law because of the numbers? so do they think it would be needed if there were millions?

  8. Come on, people! How can Western democracies continue to promote the idea that their citizens are more “free” and “liberated” than people in Arab or Muslim countries who are supposedly “backward”, “oppressive” and “sexist”? What does it feel like to not be welcome in your own country, to be suspected, bad-mouthed, stigmatized and quite frankly bullied- and then to be told that it is for the sake of “equality”, “freedom”, etc.
    And please ,don’t pretend that all of this is for the sake of Muslim women, that it’s doing them a favour- please! The average person has never even met a Muslim, much less a Muslima that wears niqab. These laws are causing alot of anguish and unhappiness, and insult and alienation for alot of women. And not just the women who wear niqab, but for all the women who understand their plight and stand with them in this matter.
    There is no need to debate the issue of whether niqabis are obliged religiously to cover their faces, whose idea or decision is it, is it cultural or religious,how it effects their interactions with others, whether you agree with it/like it/don’t like it…it’s all irrelevant.
    They should “assimilate” and “not draw attention to themselves”?! Consider then Sikhs with turbans,Hindus with “bindi” markings on their foreheads and saris, Buddhist monks, Hari Krishnas, “Pennsylvania Dutch”, Hassidic Jews… the list goes on. Lets ask the question: why are Muslim women always the focus of these bigoted laws and rhetoric?

  9. halima, i agree with you the government shouldn’t tell you how to dress. if you want to walk around naked you should be allowed to. but also a person can’t say i choose to dress (or not) this way and an employer must hire me. i don’t care if you want to assimilate or not. clearly the amish don’t. but don’t tell me that the west is not more free than the muslim world? is it not true that if me and my wife went any where in the muslim world and she chose to wear a bikini out in public, that she would be stopped by government officails?

  10. appearently too much assimilation

  11. If the Islamic women can wear face coverings for whatever reasons, then why as a Canadian born citizen can I get arrested for wearing a face covering entering a bank or a depanneur? A mask is a mask no matter the color or shape. A white man could wear a Burka and easily rob a store. Criminals should all wear Burkas to avoid the law?????
    Plain and simple…NO MASKS AT ALL….is that complicated? Please stop spending our dollars to accomadate a religion that permits killing of a woman who has shown her face or been raped. This to me is “uncicilised” and I excercise my freedom of speach to say so!!!!!

  12. Jilbabs are amongst the most famous clothing products for the Muslim ladies of currently. Jilbabs is often defined as lengthy and loose garments that cover the complete body from tip to toe. Islamic tradition demands that females needs to be concealed when they come out in public. Even though a great deal of women don’t comply with these guidelines, some have still retained the age-old values from the religion of Islam.

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