Someone has somehow unearthed a rather obscure blog entry by the husband of “Naema”, the woman in Quebec who was twice expelled from a government-funded integration and language course for refusing to take off her black Niqab.
I’ve decided to clean up the language, primarily for ease of understanding, but also because we should focus on his ideas and not on what is obviously a second language for him. You can always read the original entry if you are so inclined.
Waleed Aboziad writes:
Which is preferable:
1. That the government try to enhance the quality of life for people by improving health services and the economy, especially after the financial crisis [in Quebec the wait for emergency care is 8 hours] ?
2. That the government make a law against the niqab or make any limitation on freedom?
This is what one might call a “false dichotomy”, in which the person attempts to show that there are only two mutually exclusive options, when in fact they are but two possibilities of many.
Actually, the health care issue in Quebec is a separate issue from the the prospect of banning the niqab from the public service [but not completely separate, as immigrants have no doubt contributed to the increased demand and burden on the system as reported by Mr.Aboziad].
A society is represented by a government that acts in the interests of people. Just as in Egypt, the government acts in the interests of the people to protect certain cultural traditions, norms, and the dominant religion, so too does Canada attempt to serve the the needs of the people here. A long time ago it was decided that Canada was going to avoid catering to just one concept of culture or religion, which is why we made our government secular and separate from religion. This is one reason why banning the niqab makes a lot of sense in the public service.
But perhaps more relevant and important to the discussion, is that “Naema” chose to join an integration class in Quebec in order to more properly adapt to life in Canada. Though our laws permit the wearing of the niqab, despite the rather unsettling association it has with gender apartheid and sexism, most Canadians find the garment to be a barrier that impedes communication, and ultimately the integration that is the purpose of the class. And since the funding of that class is provided for by the taxpayers of Quebec, it’s hardly a limitation of freedom to assign certain restrictions to the delivery of this free service.
Mr.Aboziad goes on to explain culture is a combination of values [such as freedom, respect, and human rights], language, history, and art. Since our clothes change every day, we can’t claim that the niqab is a cultural infringement.
I think the obvious answer to this is that within our value system respect is most certainly an important aspect of our culture. It is therefore disrespectful to wear the niqab while interacting in Canada, mainly because Canadians view women on an equal level to men. Because the niqab is a political symbol of the gender inequality in Islam, it is a barrier not only to communication, but to interaction and ultimately to integration. Nobody wants to approach a woman in a niqab, for the garment itself is a symbol of reproach to all but her husband.
How can one expect the taxpayers of Quebec to fund an integration class to a person who wears a garment that is symbolic of isolationism and non-integration?