I’ve been reluctant to write about social issues lately, particularly those surrounding the issue of cultural integration and reasonable accommodation. The reason for this is simply that these are often complex issues with few easy answers. In addition, I often don’t know what I’m talking about.

That said, I generally agree with Immigration Minister Yolande James’ decision to support CEGEP Saint-Laurent’s insistence that students show their faces. This came after a woman was asked to leave a French class where she refused to remove her niqab veil.

While I would never support a law that would ban outright these types of coverings, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to request that faces are shown in classes, or at the polling booth, or on a driver’s license. But there’s a discomfort I feel in telling someone how they should appear in society. But, like Heather Mallick in her column on the subject this week, I’m even more uncomfortable with the idea that a woman feels she is forced to cover up.

I’m equally uncomfortable with the idea that women in secular society, young women in particular, are made to feel as those they should put it all out there. There’s a sexism in that as well.

But to make the argument against certain levels of religious accommodation on the grounds that we’re a secular society is false. We’re nothing of the kind. We’re a society of many faiths and no faith that somehow has figured out to make it all work, for the most part. But our flag has a cross on it (as do many flags) and there’s a crucifix in the National Assembly and there isn’t much desire to change either of those things. Do our members need to be reminded of John 3:16 every time they sit down to pass laws that affect all of us, regardless of our religious persuasion?

So if certain aspects of Islam are unfit for a modern, Western society, then perhaps the same could be said for certain aspects of Christianity.


One thought on “Veiled

  1. The complicating factor is that many of those women will say they are wearing the niqab by choice. While I can buy that for a hijab, I have a really hard time believing it in the case of the niqab.

    On the other hand, “Wearing this niqab is my choice” is probably up there with “I can quit at any time,” “Of course he’ll leave his wife,” and “It can’t happen to me” in that they might actually believe it but only because of the fog of denial.

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