Muslim scholar Dr Tabasum Hussain offers an extensive consideration on the issue of veiling from a Muslim perspective. If we want to think seriously about this issue, we need to engage Dr. Hussain’s thoughtful, balanced, and insightful comments by reading his whole article at: http://thedebateinitiative.com/2012/05/04/the-niqab-debate-banning-freedom/

Here are a few excerpts:

The fundamental question is, what is the validity or strength of any of the arguments in justifying a legal ban against an item of religious clothing worn by a minority population in a “free” secular society? ….

For those pushing for a ban against the niqab, the claim that the veil is not connected to Islam has provided a means to avoid implications of discrimination against a religious minority, especially for politicians. … For the women who have chosen to wear the face veil or burqa it is a “religious sign”, and for these women it means “submission” to God.

In France, a woman is not “free” to veil her face because it goes against the dignity of a woman, but a woman is “free” to remove all her clothing to entertain voyeurs as part of a lucrative porn industry. ….

While it may be argued that the face veil damages community relations, there is a need for evidence to support how exactly the niqab or burqa causes damage or harm to any society. ….

Whether it is health or social problems, it would be reasonable to say that the impact of a woman covering her face for religious reasons would pale in comparison for example to the effects of alcohol consumption on society.  However, an outright ban against alcohol consumption across Europe would be inconceivable, simply because it would go against majority opinion and the sense of individual rights.  In the case of the niqab, it is worn by and supported by a visible minority currently facing worldwide anti-Muslim sentiment.  Undeniably, in this context, majority opinion must be tempered and restrained by the letter and spirit of the law. 

Canadians cannot afford to see this as a side-issue in the up-coming election. We have been asked to set the tone for the future of our nation. We are being asked to make a statement in this election on what we believe are truly the important “Canadian values.”

**********

Christians would do well to remember that two years ago Quebec was embroiled in a much broader move to ban religious symbols from the public arena. But then perhaps we were less concerned as Christian religious symbols seemed to be exempt:

https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/religious-symbols/

 In the course of that debate, I wrote:

Governments in democratic countries are justly cautious about legislating the behaviour of their citizens. If an action is not demonstrably harmful to another member of society, it is the responsibility of the government to do all in its power to protect the freedom of its citizens to freely choose the way they conduct their lives.

The majority may disagree with a person’s belief system and may find their religious practices ridiculous or even offensive, but no one is safe in any society that does not do all in its power to protect every person’s right to embody their beliefs in whatever way they choose, as long as their choice does no harm to another person.

Pierre Trudeau, a great Quebecker, famously said, “there’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation”. If Pierre Trudeau were alive today, he might say, “there’s no place for the state in the religious practices of the citizens of the nation.”

https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/religious-symbols-2/

Advertisements