Update: the niqab in Quebec

There’s another story in the news that is quite contentious that speaks to my post yesterday, so I thought I’d throw in some interesting reading. The issue concerns the niqab, which is to my eyes the same as a burqa. Recently the government of Quebec passed a law banning the wearing of burqas while accessing government services. There are a lot of stupid arguments for why this is a good law: security issues, enshrining women’s rights, assimilationism. I doubt there is much of a security risk posed by these women, and there is a good argument that women should be allowed to wear whatever they want.

This article takes a decidedly anti-ban stance. I disagree with their conclusions, but their reason for opposing the bill is sound – it’s not protecting a woman’s rights to take away her freedom of expression. Saying that banning the burqa is tantamount to supporting feminism is like saying that opposing Affirmative Action makes you a civil rights leader. It’s paternalism, plain and simple.

However, Canada seemingly isn’t the only country with this problem. France is currently experiencing major issues with the influx of Muslim immigrants. France, however, does have an aboriginal ethnic majority population so their issue is distinct from Canada’s. We are a nation of immigrants from the beginning of this land as a unified nation.

My stance remains the same. In a secular society, the government is not obligated to accommodate your superstition, no matter how many people believe in it. I am as offended by a woman wearing a burqa as I am by a member of Opus Dei flogging himself on the streets, or a Jehovah’s Witness coming to my home (although I live in an apartment now. Crommunist -1; Jehovah – 0). I have no patience for religion. However, as long as it’s not thrown in my face I can’t really have any objection to it. People should have the right to have their own private beliefs, but that right does not extend to public places and it certainly does not require the government to bend over backwards to facilitate your belief in mumbo jumbo.

There. Political career officially nipped in the bud.

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