This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Canada's Social Contract

"Untrue [Zunera Ishaq's vow the niqab is required because of her faith]. Islam makes no such requirement as obligatory on Muslim women, and there is no such ruling made obligatory for Muslim women in Hanafi rites or jurisprudence within Islam."
"The wearing of full face covering by that small segment of Muslim women such as Ms. Ishaq, is a custom turned into religious mandate by Muslim extremists in Pakistan. Such a contentious mandate enforced in public by coercion is of recent origin."
Raheel Raza, Sohail Raza, The Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow

"To have one's face covered for a swearing-in [citizenship] ceremony, I'm not in agreement with that."
"I'm comfortable saying that and I think my party [New Democratic Party] is also comfortable saying that."
NDP candidate Jean-Francois Delisle
The Federal Court has struck down the federal government's ban on wearing the niqab while taking the citizenship oath, but not on charter grounds.
The Federal Court has struck down the federal government's ban on wearing the niqab while taking the citizenship oath, but not on charter grounds. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The Conservative-led federal government is prepared to request a stay of the Federal Court of Appeal decision ruling that the Citizenship Act requires a change in law, not only regulation, if the Government of Canada wishes uncovered faces to remain the norm during citizenship ceremonies. A recent immigrant from Pakistan to Canada has decided that this is a social covenant that is not to her liking. Consequently, at a citizenship swearing-in ceremony which required that she remove her niqab she refused to take part.

And then she appealed the issue. Granted, Muslim women in Canada who wear a full face covering are not that abundant in number. In the same token, a requirement for all people who aspire to Canadian citizenship to show their identities during times of grave private and public importance is one meant for everyone, with no exceptions. Canada is a free and open society and within the social contract basic courtesies apply; no one should hide their faces from open view.

The most basic mode of communication is an open visage leaving others free to interpret facial expression as part of one's identity and willingness to exchange opinions or simply feel free to acknowledge the presence of others in an egalitarian society. In a closed, misogynistic society like Pakistan's where female empowerment of equality to males is a concept of human rights that has not yet arrived, women have accepted the male-domineering demand to express their demureness by hiding their physical forms and their personalities.

Another NDP Member of Parliament, Alexandre Boulerice, stated "the niqab is a type of barrier that is created between women and the rest of society. It is a wall", which makes Canadians "uneasy". In fact, it is an expression of rejection of Canadian values of female rights. Yet the leader of the NDP faults the government for its insistence on the necessity of a clear view of the face of anyone taking part in a citizenship ceremony. A recent poll, however, revealed that 83 percent of NDP supporters cast their opinion in support of the government's stand.

That same poll showed endorsement of no-niqab-use at 96 percent for those identifying with the Conservatives, and 85 percent for Liberals, which means that the Liberal leader who also faults the government is as out-of-step as the NDP leader on this critical societal issue; that cultural normatives demeaning the status of women in society are unacceptable in Canada.
"Look, when someone joins the Canadian family, there are times in our open, tolerant, pluralistic society that as part of our interactions with each other we reveal our identify through revealing our face."
"When you join the Canadian family in a public citizenship ceremony, it is essential that that is a time when you reveal yourselves to Canadians and that is something widely supported by Canadians.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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