Not Just Another Niqab and Burka Article

Veronica Abbass


Raheel Raza’s Toronto Sun article “Ban niqab, burka in all public places” and reprinted in Huffington Post Canada as “As a Muslim, I Think Canada Should Ban the Niqab and Burka in Public” is extremely annoying.

Raheel Raza describes herself as a “Muslim mother,” a “Muslim Canadian” and a Muslim, not an Islamist.

Nowhere does she explain how or why being a mother qualifies her to encourage the federal government to “legislate the complete ban on wearing face masks in public.”

While the tendency to use the country of origin or ancestors’ country of origin as an adjective to self describe as a Canadian is a regrettable but common occurrence, it is certainly less common for people to use their religion to describe their Canadian identity. However, the implication is Raza is a Muslim, so she knows whereof she speaks. Therefore, she can say with perfect confidence,

Covering the face is not a religious requirement for Muslim women.

It isn’t? Certainly there is no shortage of opinion to the contrary, or at least, there are a lot of women who will testify that covering the face is a religious requirement for some Muslim women. As well, quoting the Qur’an is as dangerous as quoting the Bible; both contradict themselves, so for Reza to say, “The injunction in the Qur’an is for modesty (for men and women)” is misleading. After all, the Qur’an is only one of two primary sources (the other being the Hadiths) of Islamic legal systems (sharia), most of which interpret this modesty as some kind of head-covering for women.

Reza maintains, “The federal Liberals and NDP are treating Canada’s niqabis as latter-day Rosa Parks, fighting for justice.” Like most Canadians, Reza is more familiar with American history than Canadian history. Reza should look for Canadian examples to advance her argument. Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise Crummy McKinney and Irene Parlby’s experience would tell her that Zunera Ishaq is a person and persons in Canada are not required to hide themselves behind a burka or a niqab.

Finally Raheel Raza says,

There is just one way forward: The next government must legislate the complete ban on wearing face masks in public, not just to expose the hypocrisy of the Islamists but for the sake of our security as well.

The difference between a Muslim and Islamist is one of degree. As Maryam Namazie explains, it’s the difference between “a Christian versus a member of the Klux [sic] Klux Klan.” Moderate, practising Christians, Jews, and Muslims are enablers; they support the extreme in their religion.

While some people may think Raza should be given credit for at least opposing the niqab and burka, they are too generous. Raheel Raza is not an ally or a friend of secularism or secularists in the fight against the niqab and burka; she is the president of The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, an organization whose mission is

to reclaim Islam for, as the word itself means, securing Peace for all people, and to oppose extremism, fanaticism and violence in the name of religion. … In order to succeed we are dedicated to nurturing harmonious coexistence among people of all faith traditions, to supporting open and free intellectual discourse about our history beset with problems that need to be publicly discussed, and to celebrating as Canadians our cultural diversity in all of its aspects.

Atheism and secularism are not “faith traditions;” furthermore, Canadian atheists and secularists should not be “celebrating as Canadians our cultural diversity in all of its aspects” when one of the aspects of cultural diversity is religion.

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