Muslim groups fear ‘disastrous result’ if niqabs banned

Muslim groups fear ‘disastrous result’ if niqabs banned

By Marian Scott, Montreal Gazette

March 25, 2010

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A Muslim woman wearing a niqab. \

Under Bill 94, women wearing the niqab will have to reveal their faces to be served in public institutions.

Photograph by: Allen McInnis, Gazette file photo

MONTREAL — Barring women who wear the niqab from receiving government services or an education will chase them out of universities and the workplace and into the shadows, Muslim groups charged Thursday.

“It will isolate them more and more and bring a disastrous result,” said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal.

Bill 94 “seems to be specifically tailored for Muslims,” Elmenyawi said.

Quebec already requires women to uncover their faces when applying for driver’s licences and medicare cards, or voting, he noted.

Elmenyawi said Quebec was bowing to anti-minority sentiments that have swept the province in recent weeks in the wake of the removal of an Egyptian woman from government language classes for wearing a niqab.

“It is a very slippery slope to legislate measures which could encroach on the rights of minorities. It could open the floodgates to discrimination,” he warned.

Elmenyawi said the council will seek legal advice on the bill’s implications and possible recourse.

At Concordia University, some students wondered whether the handful of students there who wear a niqab will be expelled.

“That’s not fair. That’s not what Canada is about,” Manal Karime, 21, a second-year finance student, said of the bill, which would bar students wearing a niqab from attending classes in schools, including colleges and universities.

Karime wears a hijab (headscarf), not a niqab, but supports the right of other Muslim women to wear the face veil. “An education should be provided to everyone, despite what they wear,” she said.

Genevieve Lepage, spokeswoman for one Muslim group, said the bill is too sweeping.

“The only thing it clarifies is that they don’t want (the niqab) anywhere,” said Lepage, a PhD psychology student at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, whose group represents Muslim converts. “It is discriminatory.”

The niqab ban would further marginalize women who wear the Muslim face veil, said Alia Hogben, executive director of Canadian Council of Muslim Women. “I’m a little taken aback they’ve gone so far,” she said.

Louise Beaudoin, the Parti Quebecois immigration critic, said women wearing niqabs are excluding themselves from Quebec society.

“When you wear a burqa or a niqab, it’s certainly not because you want to communicate with anybody else,” Beaudoin said.

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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1 Response

  1. FourFooted_Messiah says:

    Sounds more like a veiled threat to me.

    Also, who else here is sick of third world immigrants telling us “what Canada is all about”?

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