Quebec’s Niqab Ban

I am in favour of it. It is appropriately targeted discrimination. It targets Muslim women who feel compelled to cover their faces in public. People do not cover their faces in public unless they have reasons to fear being looked at or identified. In the case of Muslim women, it is the fear of being subject to the lustful gaze of males who are not their husbands.

Quebec insists, rightly or wrongly, in the assertion of collective values over the choices of individuals. In Quebec and the rest of the western world, women are in general forced to cover themselves from above the breasts to above the knees. We do not think twice about it except when a woman wants to go topless somewhere else than the beach. Even toplessness at the beach is considered provocative in most places. Yet these rules exist and police enforce them. Men as well as women are frequently told by store signs: “No shirt, no shoes, no service”. This is plainly discriminatory, and society generally agrees with the discrimination.

The National Post today is filled with shrill defences of the right of Islamic women to be shamed into covering their faces. Who do you think enforces the shaming? Islamic men, of a particular and strictly Islamic disposition. Body shaming of this sort is the worst form of misogyny, and reinforces power of the Islamic shame culture. Quebec society has had the guts to say no, as in just say no to Islamic body shaming. Is this discriminatory? You betcha.Is it a just and reasonable discrimination? Yes, absolutely.

[The logic of this reasoning about the female face and the male gaze suggests that soon some women in universities will be covering their faces too, so as to escape the “male gaze”, one of the favoured tropes of feminist furies. Face coverings will be labelled progressive.]

In the Islamic idea of male-female relations, it is always the female who is responsible for inciting male lust. Males are not expected to show any control whatever; they are the passive victims of female provocations. The female is covered up to prevent public indecency, because women by their nature are indecent.

Quebec has shown much greater sense than the English-Canadian commentariat about the real reasons women wear the niqab, and much better sense that the collective has a right to insist of public standards of decorum, including not only what must be covered, but what must be uncovered.



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Gabby in QC

I am not in favour of Quebec’s Niqab ban. Not because I agree women should cover their face, whether by choice or by coercion, but because it has elicited an even fiercer rationalization of the left’s claims on the moral high ground, which they alone own — according to them, of course. The provincial Liberals (whom I support, given the other choices) are under fire from the loony left and risk losing even more support than they’ve already lost because of other issues.

Just one example of the self-righteous arguments put forward by the loony left: according to an anglophone talk radio host in my neck of the woods, the niqab issue is a question of democracy, of freedom to be and do what one wants to be/do. This from the very same man who questioned whether politicians who oppose gay marriage, abortion, and other “social conservative” views should be allowed to run and hold office. That was his question following Andrew Scheer’s winning the CP leadership contest. Some democracy! Some freedom!

Pro-ban callers to that host’s program invariably assert that the niqab is not a requirement of the Islamic religion. IMO, the wrong tack to take. Are those callers so well-versed in the Islamic religion that they can categorically make that assertion? Even among Muslims there is no agreement on whether the niqab is a religious requirement. Nor does the argument that the garment enables the oppression of women carry much weight, IMO.

So, what arguments can a normal person (as opposed to loony leftists) make? Well, for one, in a civilized society, there are certain societal norms one adheres to. One of those is that people do not mask their face when engaged in social interactions. That should be made clear to prospective immigrants. It is unacceptable in our society, period. If you’re not willing to accept that, please go knock on another country’s port of entry.

Also, contrary to the radio host’s argument citing democracy & freedom, citizens of a democracy are NOT completely free to be and do what they want, as the radio host & his panel stated. There are laws and regulations limiting citizens’ behaviour and actions. We may balk at some of those restrictions but they are necessary for a well-functioning society. If one wants to participate in that society, one will abide by those laws & regulations.

But what can a government do with those women who are already here, wearing their niqab? Maybe pray for true global warming, so that they will eventually shed their tent-like garments, while their husbands walk around in sandals & shorts! Seriously, though. It does not make much sense to refuse services to such women, including passage on public transit, because of that confining garment. As the loony lefties argue — this time with reason — that ban further marginalizes those women. Yes, it’s by their own choice, but still. Quite a dilemma.


Gabby: Thanks for your comments. Your proposals sound like the niqab wearers should be grandfathered: those wearing the niqab after a certain date are forbidden; those wearing it before are allowed. Obviously such a measure in unenforceable. The marginalization derives from the niqab and the attitudes whereby a woman must cover herself from the male gaze; the integration lies in the law forbidding it. I think you have it backward.
Thank you for reading us at BS.

Gabby in QC

Dalwhinnie, perhaps I did not make my case clearly. You stated a grandfathered acceptance of the niqab would be unenforceable. True, it would be, if there were two classes of niqab-wearers. However, what I proposed — if half-heartedly — is to allow ‘niqab-ed’ women currently in Canada (landed immigrants, residents, Canadian citizens) to keep on wearing their garb. But future ‘niqab-ed’ applicants to Canada would not be allowed in. Surely sovereign countries still have the right to allow or refuse entry to applicants?

As a member of an immigrant family myself, we had to undergo a vetting process. Most likely we met the requirements of an undeclared quota. We were fortunate but others seeking entry at the same time may have been turned away, for whatever reason. Similarly, ‘niqab-ed’ women would no longer be accepted as immigrants, refugees, etc.

This ill-conceived ban does nothing but inflame already acrimonious debates. Apparently, it would be up to “dispensers” of services to decide whether they would allow niqab wearers to receive the services they’re supposed to provide. So, conceivably, a woman waiting for bus #135 would be allowed to get on whereas a similarly garbed woman would not be allowed on bus #136. Talk about unenforceable!

Arran Gold

It is possible for a country to be multicultural but it cannot be multi-civilizational. Canada is a Judeo-Christian civilization and that is that. Imagine if that guy in IT support took today off because he happens to be a Hindu and today is Diwali. Or that Muslim guy at work is taking tomorrow off because on Friday he has to go to the Mosque.

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