12.12.2011 11:47 AM

Covering up (updated)

If you don’t care about this, you’re with the terrorists.

Now that the lunatics are running the asylum, with majority control, get used to more of this:

The government is placing a ban on face coverings such as niqabs for people swearing their oath of citizenship, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Monday.

The ban takes effect immediately.

As a result, Muslim women will have to remove their niqabs or any other face-covering garments, such as burkas, before they can recite the oath of citizenship to become Canadians. Citizenship judges will be directed to enforce the rules at ceremonies over which they preside.

As I wrote some months ago, you should also get ready for every kook and bigot with some spare time on his hands commence litigation against the Sikh’s turban and beard, the Jew’s kippah and the Hasidic Jew’s clothing,  the Hindu’s tilak facial markings, the styles favoured by traditional Mennonites and the Amish, or perhaps even the ostentatious display of a nun’s habit.

Oh, and there’s this campaign, which started in Israel last Fall:

(Related story found here).

And here’s a Canadian angle:

Quebec’s Orthodox Jewish community appeared for the first time on Wednesday before a National Assembly committee, taking up an unexpected cause – fighting a bill that would ban the wearing of the Muslim niqabwhen receiving government services.

The Jewish Orthodox Council for Community Relations said by placing gender rights above religious rights, the bill would create a hierarchy of individual rights and freedoms that would be challenged before the courts. The group warned the government against adopting “hard and fast rules” that could exacerbate social tensions surrounding religious minorities.

And so on and so on.

In 2011 A.D., it amazes me that we still need to say this, but apparently we do:  Religions should have no control over what governments do – and, as in this case, governments should have no control over what religions do.  If no one is being harmed in some way, social conservative nutbars like Jason Kenney should back off.

And will the NDP say anything about this?  Not on your life.  Liberals?  We shall see.

UPDATE: From a sharp-eyed reader, this gem. We all expect Kenney to place Eve under citizen’s arrest, now.


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    Kre8tv says:

    Like so many things now, they do this simply because they can.

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      Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Just to correct the impression that it is ANY head covering, as pictured by the nun above. It is ONLY the covering of the FACE that is to be ruled against during the Oath.

      Do a modicum of fact checking before you burst out with this nonsense. Please?

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    WDM says:

    Not that I would support an outright ban, but isn’t it illogical to say you can wear one sometimes, but not others? This seems like dog whistle politics aimed at the base.

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      Ken says:

      WDM nails it.

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      Ian M. says:

      And what a wonderful fund-raising tool for the Conservative election campaign. Yipee!

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        Derek Pearce says:

        As a big-L Liberal, I’m annoyed that Kenny will gains votes because of this. But for once I agree with him.

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      WesternGrit says:

      Yeah, but an ignorant, knee-jerk, racist move like this (and we know where So-Cons come from on this), is really not necessary. If you want to ensure we know who you are, the court can simply have a female ward meet the prospective immigrant in a side room to verify ID. Situation solved. Instead of the racist ideology getting in the way, a little open-minded education could be all that’s needed. To bad many So-Cons are ignorant, pathetic, racist troglodytes… And my GodFather was a Reform MP (Roy Bailey) – before you get any ideas…

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    smelter rat says:

    I’d be more impressed if this government forbade police officers from wearing masks and removing their ID’s when beating up peaceful protestors.

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      TheSilentObserver says:

      Welcome to Harper’s Canada, my friend. Muslims: foreign, scary jihadists. Cops: noble do-gooders crusaders against the homeless/leftist/weed smoking scum of the world. Lone wolf terrorists are no apparent threat, and dope possession gets you more time than most forms of vehicular homicide

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      Michael says:

      Then why did it take so long to ID the police officers accused of brutality during the G20?

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      smelter rat says:

      Keep drinking the KoolAid Gord.

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    Philippe says:

    Thanks for bringing this one up Warren – I’m speechless. I’ve lived abroad + traveled extensively and witnessed first-hand the social tensions that exist elsewhere between the local populace and minorities. All I ever kept thinking is how well Canadian multi-culturalism comparatively worked. We had social cohesion… little hatred compared to everywhere else I’ve been. Why in the world do we need to mess up something we’ve done better than the rest of the world? When I see things like this, I can’t help but see the elected Cons as cult-like nutbars & their base either grossly misinformed (to not say stupid). All one needs to do is travel to find out how well we have it comparatively. With the lunatics at the helm though, I fear we’re headed for some major social problems. Worst of all, they are inventing the problems.

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    allegra fortissima says:

    “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters, and the believing women, to draw the cloaks (veils) over their bodies. That will be better that they should be known (as respectable woman) so as not to be annoyed. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an 33:59)

    Where does the Qur’an say that women must cover their faces? Where? “The niqab is a tradition and has nothing to do with religion.” (Grand Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi).

    In October 2009, the Muslim Canadian Congress called for a ban on burqa and niqab (though not the hijab), saying that they have ‘no basis in Islam.’ Spokeswoman Farzana Hassan cited public safety issues, such as identity concealment, as well as gender equality, stating that wearing the burqa and niqab is ‘practice that marginalizes women.’ (Wikipedia)

    Apparently the Canadian Government is following the rules of some European States:


    If for the better or the worse – Muslim women will have to decide.

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      Warren says:

      Your fondness for Fallacci worries me.

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        allegra fortissima says:

        I have no fondness for Fallacci, whatsoever. Actually, as so many readers, I was bitterly disappointed in her latter writings. I think I made this very clear in one of my previous posts several months ago.

        Your fondness for Penn worries me, or let’s say, disappoints me. Because I, personally, don’t give a shit what a fellow with his attitude says, no matter how “progressive”!

        If I ever met him in real life, I’d puke right in front of his feet! As I’d do with Fallacci.

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          Warren says:

          Sorry, but you’d quoted her approvingly in the past (I thought), and in respect of her views on Islam. My apologies if you didn’t do that.

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          Warren says:

          Sorry. I recalled the first part of this comment by you some months ago, and not the second:

          What part don’t you understand, Bruce M?

          Take award winning journalist Oriana Fallaci as an example. She addressed Ayatollah Khomeini as a “tyrant” in an interview and rid herself of the chador, “this stupid medieval rag”, she was asked to wear. Her personal point of view and acceptable.
          She fearlessly opposed Qaddafi in an interview: “You. Because this doesn’t convince me. And so I oppose it. And since I’m in opposition, what will you do to me? Arrest me? Shoot me?”, and ridiculed his Green Book: “I read it. It doesn’t take very long, you know, 15 minutes at the most. It’s so small. My powder compact is bigger than your little Green Book.” Acceptable. She certainly had a point.
          But then she believed she had the right to say anything, and she did not. Racist, hateful statements like “the sons of Allah breed like rats” and “Europe is no longer Europe, it is ‘Eurabia’, a colony of Islam” lead to charges against her in Switzerland and Italy for violating laws against vilifying religion, and rightly so.

          This is why Human Right Commissions exist and this is why we as a civilized society should be grateful for their vigilance.

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            allegra fortissima says:

            – She (Orianna Fallacci) addressed Ayatollah Khomeini as a”‘tyrant”… well, she isn’t the only one.
            – … and rid herself of the chador, this “stupid medieval rag” – her words were rude, but I wonder how many Iranian women think the same (still no reason to bash the ones who actually wear a chador):


            – … and ridiculed his Green Book. Again, rude language, but she wasn’t the only one to criticize Qaddafi’s writing : “The theory claims to solve the contradictions inherent in capitalism and communism… In fact, it is little more than a series of fatuous diatribes, and it is bitterly ironic that a text whose professed objective is to break the shackles… has been used instead to subjugate an entire population.” (BBC Journalist Martin Asser)

            I see Muslim women on the street once in a while, some of them traditionally dressed. Fine with me. As long as it is THEIR choice, and not someone else’s.

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    allegra fortissima says:


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    james Smith says:

    Bet the DEAR LEADER feels it was okie-dokie for this fella to keep his face covered, while in court http://home.ca.inter.net/~hagelin/gouzenko.html

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      TheSilentObserver says:

      Imagine if the Canadian right of the day called him a filthy Orthodox tsarist who wanted to make us celebrate Christmas on January 7th stinking up his building with perogies and borscht

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    kre8tv says:

    Why? Cite us some evidence that supports the contention that showing one’s face while swearing an oath is somehow necessary for citizenship. Since this is just a matter of what you simply *feel* is true, why is your sense of what’s permissible in telling others what to do or wear just limited to ceremonies? Or is it?

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      James Bow says:

      Ever hear of the phrase “innocent until proven guilty”? Why are you presuming the guilt of these people? That’s what’s silly about this.

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      Ted H says:

      Sorry, I meant analogous, not corollary>

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      Kre8tv says:

      Name me a precedence where someone cleverly fooled a Citizenship judge into swearing-in the wrong person. It’s not as if someone just waltzes into the office and becomes a citizen. By that point, your identity is quite well known to CIC, among other agencies.

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        Michael says:

        Perhaps this is one of those unreported crimes we have heard so much about.

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      Ted says:

      Except, Gord, all of the identification and verification steps are already done by the time the oath is taken. All of that can be done in separate, non-public rooms where face-covering garb can be removed.

      While the oath is important, it is (a) not the only step in citizenship and in fact only the last and final step and (b) largely symbolic.

      And it is that symbolism that this is targetted at. The Conservatives cringe every time they see one of those photos of new Canadians taking their citizenship oath and seeing all these new citizens from, to be polite shall we call them, non-traditional regions of the globe.

      There is absolutely no need for anyone to show their face to do the oath. None.

      It’s bigotry, pure and simple.

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    TheSilentObserver says:

    This makes me wonder if the Conservatives are drifting away from parties such as the British Conservatives, UMP, and CDU, mostly held as mainstream European conservative parties (in spite of Sarkozy’s raging Islamophobia), and more towards the FN, BNP, Swedish Democrats, Attacka, True Finns, etc. I don’t think I’d be a tory in the best of times, but I almost miss the days when Conservatism was mostly about smaller government, free enterprise, and law & order, the latter of which any party should adhere to, and cultural, paleocon flavoured initiatives had nothing to do with it as an ideology

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    MississaugaLibPeter says:

    I hate to disagree with you on this one WK, but I do. And I would suspect over 75% of Canadians do.


    I do not have a problem, like I expect most Canadians do not, with Muslim hijabs, Sikh’s turbans and their beards, Jew’s kippah and Hasidic Jew’s clothing, Hindu’s tilak facial markings, Catholic nun habits, or hair coverings for widows.

    I agree with Kenney on this one. And even worse, with Gord.

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    Dan says:

    It’s always really convenient how your requirements for good citizenship just so happen to interfere with the rights of anyone who isn’t old, rich, and white. Small government for you, big government for everyone else.

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    GPAlta says:

    There must be a way to make culturally sensitive accommodation for swearing an oath. If the fingertips or the eyes are not traditionally covered, why couldn’t biometric data from finger prints or the retina be used to record and verify identity?

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      Michael says:

      Come on, is this really such a huge issue? I am sure there has not been one single case of someone falsely identifying themselves in order to take the oath of citizenship.

      The minister is solving a problem that does not exist. But we are going down a slippery slope.

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        Woody says:

        WE? No. CPC? Yes.

        It’s the politics of division. Because even with their majority, they can only focus on keeping power forever, instead of governing and making the country better.

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      Elisabeth Lindsay says:

      Oh my God…….sigh.

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    Iris Mclean says:

    Kenney, directed by Harper, is just tossing a little raw meat to their Reform base.

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    Riaz Khan says:

    As I mentioned earlier, once you go down that road, there is no stopping. This should worry all progressive Canadians regardless of their support for any political party. When I see things like that, it makes me sad and to some extent nervous. In the past, when I used to go outside Canada, people would stop me to ask: what are you guys doing in Canada where it is so peaceful and all the groups are living in harmony. Now, people do stop me but for very different questions: what happened to that Canada? Why the government is so determined to highlight the divisions?

    Personally, I dont think Canadians have changed as someone suggested above by saying that majority wanted that ban. I have visited many places in the world and let me tell you: Canadians are the most generous people in the world. Certain types of politicians and media people have caused a sensation by singling out a group to create a fear either through some phony law or some op-ed analysis. I am a Canadian at the core and whenever I listen to my anthem, I always cry- ( most recently in Doha). My love for Canada has nothing to do with my face but my heart and same goes for my citizenship.

    On September 11, 2001, in the evening, some of my neighbors came to my home to see how I was doing. Some of the guys stayed at my place for few weeks to help me for any ugly situation. I cried a lot during that time. I fell in love with this country in 1994 the day I arrived. I still feel that way today. I felt the same on that ugly September day about this country and her people.

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    smelter rat says:

    This whole episode is nothing more than red meat to the knuckle draggers. Just exactly how many women have ever worn a veil to a swearing in anyway. 100? 200? Whatever the number, it is extremely small, and as Ted has pointed out, they could easily have been accommodated in other ways. Welcome to Harperland.

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      smelter rat says:

      Uh huh. Like the several ( ie 1) complaints about the Stats Can long form.

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    Derek Pearce says:

    Haven’t read any comments yet so pardon if repeating. You say “If no one is being harmed in some way…” and that is the sticking point for me. How do you define harm? Obviously the government (and many others) feel that either woman in general and/or Canada as an idea is harmed by this. And much as I detest the Conservatives in countless other ways, I support them on this. I’m willing to discuss/argue about this and even have my mind changed, but the reality is that this decision strikes a blow against men’s control over women’s bodies and in favour of upholding some common secular standards. I support both of those aims.

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    Olivia says:

    As a Liberal, I agree with this. Want to be a citizen? Show your face. That’s citizenship Warren: We adopt you in to the Canadian family and YOU adapt, not the other way around. We’ve spent so much time diluting our own citizenship that we have lost sight of how much we have actually give away. Frankly, I think this country should go a step further: Ban the niqab and burka totally. In the words of Nazira Tareen: “If we Muslims have chosen Canada as our country, we have come here, it is our duty as Muslims, it tells us in the Koran, to obey the laws of the land we have chosen to live in.” http://www.ottawasun.com/2011/12/12/ottawa-muslim-applauds-feds-niqab-ruling

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    Michael Bussiere says:

    Here’s comes the “not withstanding” clause!

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    Riley says:

    This will face a charter challenge and or human rights tribunal complaint and it should. There are many ways to accommodate women who choose to cover their face of their own accord. Kenney displayed a stunning ignorance and lack of sensitivity. Calling the practice bizarre (what about Mennonites who prefer horses over cars? Some would call that bizarre…what about body piercings and tatoos…. At one time those practices were limited to pirates and drunken sailors…Kenney has now become a cartoon character… Spouting off about what constitutes valid Islamic practice and tradition. Or is he a fashion expert, now? I’m an athiest but I don’t believe the state has the right to tell people they can’t observe practices that those individuals deem religiously significant. Kenney can cherry pick self-declared Muslim spokespersons and religious experts but this is about individual rights. In this country we have a charter that protects minorities and individuals from the tyranny of the majority (even though the cons have a phony majority — 38%) This won’t last 5 minutes in court… Or maybe the whole point of the exercise is to stir up even more resentment over a longer period of time after this rule is struck down by court after court.

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    Kevin says:

    I love the way Jason Kenney called them “costumes”. LOL. That’s what these coverings are. No costumes in citizenship court.

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    Jon Powers says:

    On the cbc, Ian Capstick of course disagreed with this new law and claimed that if you just sat down and had a conversation “face to face” with a woman in a burka you would have a better understanding of her culture. That made me laugh. Of course, the irony was lost on all the cbc “progressives”.

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    Tiger says:

    The ban’s on face-coverings, not head-coverings.

    Nun’s habits, hijabs, turbans, etc., are all still just fine.

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      The Doctor says:

      Oh stop it with your troublesome facts.

      In any event, I don’t know about whether removal is necessary for a citizenship ceremony. I think the case for removal is a lot more compelling in that case that’s currently before the courts about removing a face covering when you’ve got a complainant/witness in a criminal trial. For example, the point that Frank Addario made about effective cross-examination and the role of facial expressions etc.

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        The Doctor says:

        And I did not deliberately make my post at 4:20. Honest. 🙂

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    Lawrence Stuart says:

    On a deeply visceral level, the face covering thing creeps me out. It is weird — completely alien to my cultural expectations. This is my prejudice. And it is a common prejudice, with, as was noted above, something like 75% of Canadians in favour of Kenny’s action.

    But people please consider, covering the face is something that people choose to do. And because it causes none of us demonstrable harm (really, the identity thing is a very thin, er, veil), neither you, nor I, nor the state have any business interfering in their actions.

    Contrast this with the recent ruling on polygamy, where Chief Justice Bauman found a demonstrable harm to those involved, and society at large, arising out of the practice. As regards the veil, can any of those in favour of forcing women to remove it for a citizenship oath explain what harm is being avoided?

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    Al in Cranbrook says:

    To think about…

    The vast majority of Canadians have a sense of what it means to be “Canadian”. It’s innate, from their guts, born out of hundreds of years of tradition and history, primarily European and/or Christian…all of which has shaped our own cultural identity, whether we know it or not.

    Canadians are willing to bend to accommodate other points of view…to a point. But not to the point of denial of who we, “Canadians”, are and are about.

    I’d suggest that one of the downfalls of the LPC has been a propensity to fly in the face of this reality of human nature. People…and not just Canadians…get tired, if not fed up, with being told repeatedly that this sense at the most basic level of who they are and what they are about is, not just merely wrong, but assaulted with slurs such as “racist”, and the like.

    The LPC has been on a four decade campaign to somehow define…or more to the point…re-define Canadian identity, mostly to their own ideological liking.

    A great many people are simply fed up with constantly being told what to think, and the means by which “political correctness” has been ruthlessly employed to enforce it.

    But more critically, there is a danger in suppression of this sort, in that it fosters a breeding ground for extremism counter to it…which clearly is becoming the situation across Europe.

    Canadians have very strong and deeply held ideals about “equality”…and are growing increasingly impatient with what appears to be attempts at just about every turn of the road to undermine this most profound aspect of our culture heritage and identity.

    The success, I might proffer, of the CPC is that it recognizes these traditional values, but more to the point, does not seek to constantly over-write them with ideologically conceived/premised orthodoxy.


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      Philip says:

      We get it. The dog whistle works in Cranbrook. Here’s a clue, you don’t get to decide what it means to be a “Canadian” any more than I do. Every Canadian (new and old) decides that for themselves.

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    Peter Jay says:

    To be a truly tolerant and open society, Canada can’t tolerate every aspect of every culture. We do our best and we’ve found we can tolerate the turban, etc but there will be aspects, like polygamy or like the burqa, that should not be tolerated.

    Humans recognize other humans and their humanity by their faces. Right from when we are infants, we look at faces to connect to others. And we continue doing this, even with complete strangers, each and every day. It is such a basic human element that it is impossible to imagine a healthy human society with every face covered.

    To see people dressed like this is shocking because it is inhuman — even you super-tolerant folks who venerate tolerance as the highest value — you, too, are shocked (admit it!). Not because you are ignorant, or racist, or whatever tag you want to put on people. But, because, you’re human and you’ve been looking for the faces of others since you were a baby.

    Warren obviously wants to make this about religious bigotry. It’s not.

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    TDotRome says:

    Welcome to Canada!! A place where you can wear what you like! Practice whatever religion you choose!! Freedom!!!………..errrr……except during the citizenship ceremony, not then. Then doesn’t count. The rights of a citizen don’t apply while you become a citizen. Sorry ’bout that. I know it sounds contradictory and stupid, and that’s because it is. We neo-cons are like that a lot. Feel free to launch a consitutional challenge, you’ll probably win.

    (Is it so hard to have the judge/legal witness just confirm the person’s identity in a discreet & private manner? Then get on with the ceremony?)

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