October 8, 2009
"... opponents of a ban on face-masks compare the burka to a bra. Wahida Valiante, chair of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said, “Women can take their bra off and we don’t have any laws against that. So in that context a woman can choose to cover their face in this country.” It was lost on Ms. Valiante that the burka conceals a person’s identity while a bra is female undergarment."
Tarek Fatah says "Burn the Burka"
The National Post
In October 2006, when Britain’s former foreign secretary Jack Straw asked a
constituent wearing a face-mask in his office to remove her veil, he was
lambasted by UK’s mosque establishment and clerics as a racist and Islamophobe.
Three years later, it was the mother of all Islamic clerics — Muhammad Sayyid
Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque and Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar
University in Egypt — who found himself in Jack Straw’s shoes. Speaking to
students in a girls’ school in Egypt, Sheikh Tantawi asked a girl draped in a
head-to-toe black burka to take off the veil from her face. The girl refused,
leading the frustrated Egyptian cleric to say he will issue a fatwa (religious
edict) against the growing trend among Muslim women to wear the niqab (a dark
veil covering the entire face, leaving a hole only for the eyes). He told the
young woman that full-face veiling is a custom that has nothing to do with the
The Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) is now adding its voice to Sheikh Tantawi’s,
and all the others who demand an end to this insult to the female gender. The
MCC, an organization that I once led, has asked Ottawa to introduce legislation
that will “ban the wearing of masks, burkas and niqabs in public.”
Defenders of the burka contend that the wearing of a face-mask by Muslim women
is protected by our Charter’s right to religious freedom. But such arguments are
premised on the myth that a face-mask for women is a necessary part of
religiously prescribed Islamic attire.
There is no requirement in Islam for Muslim women to cover their face. Rather,
the practice reflects a mode of male control over women. Its association with
Islam originates in Saudi Arabia, which seeks to export the practice of veiling
— along with other elements of its extremist Wahhabist brand of Islam.
If readers have any doubt about this issue, they should take a look at the
holiest place for Muslims — the grand mosque in Mecca. For over 1,400 years,
Muslim men and women have prayed in what we believe is the House of God. And for
all these centuries, female visitors have been explicitly prohibited from
covering their faces.
For the better part of the 20th century, Muslim reformists, from Egypt to India,
campaigned against this terrible tribal custom imposed by Wahhabi Islam. My
mother’s generation threw off their burqas when Muslim countries gained their
independence after the Second World War.
Here in Canada, the debate about the niqab controversy surfaced recently in
Toronto, when a judge ordered a Muslim woman to take off her niqab when she
testified in a case of sexual assault. The woman invoked Islam as the reason why
she wanted to give testimony while wearing a
face-mask. She told the judge: “It’s a respect issue, one of modesty,” before
adding that it was a matter of Islamic “honour.” (The judge denied her request.)
Elsewhere, a person wearing a burka and masquerading as a Muslim woman robbed a
ScotiaBank branch in Mississauga and is still being hunted by police.
Interestingly, none of the national newspapers covered the burka-bandit bank
holdup, scared it seems that reporting the incident would attract accusations of
racism and Islamophobia.
Some apologists of Islamism in academia and feminist groups bend the truth to
make it sound as if their defence of the burka is a defence of tolerant Western
values. What do these people have to say about laws against polygamy and
slavery, both sanctioned in some parts of the Islamic world, but outlawed in
Other opponents of a ban on face-masks compare the burka to a bra. Wahida
Valiante, chair of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said, “Women can take their
bra off and we don’t have any laws against that. So in that context a woman can
choose to cover their face in this country.” It was lost on Ms. Valiante that
the burka conceals a person’s identity while a bra is female undergarment.
The Canada I came to with my wife and daughters should not be a haven for a
medieval, misogynist doctrine that traps women under the guise of liberalism and
It is sad that while the rest of the world moves toward the goal of gender
equality, right here in Europe and North America, under our very noses,
Islamists are pushing back the clock, convincing educated Muslim women they are
mere corrupting sexual objects and a source of sin.
MCC grieves the loss of our sons and daughters in Afghanistan, who died serving Canada in the line of duty. We offer our condolences to the families of the dead soldiers and hope to see all our troops back home safely.
Views and opinions on who, if anyone, is the real voice for Canada's Muslims
The MCC campaign against religious tribunals for family law
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War on Terror
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