Issues: The Great Niqab Debate

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The Niquab

The Niqab--A Traditional Face Covering

The Great Niqab Debate is Upon Us, Like it or Not.

Whether it is a mild social debate,  a tempest in a teapot, an opportunistic politician's wet dream in an election year, a growing phobia, a racist argument; or an issue of women's rights, religious beliefs, a genuine, growing concern for public safety, or Islamophobia, the great niqab debate is upon Canadians, like it or not.  One may choose to participate or not. One may express opinions, or not. Here at Incoming Bytes we encourage comments, as long as they are polite,  civilized, constructive, and offer reason.

*First, a disclaimer:   I am male, senior, born Canadian, and here at Incoming Bytes I demand honesty first from myself.   I have NO  intention of mincing words or using cute lies  feel-good euphemisms  to please  devious "politically-correct" , factions, social manipulators with an agenda, devious religious zealots, homesick immigrants,   devious, lying politically-motivated opportunists,  or the whining variety of any of the above.  Opinions expressed in the niquab debate may not agree with mine, but  I will defend your right to express an opinion in a civilized manner.

As for me? I am not 'racist' —If I were racist, I would have been  censured or killed off as  a child by my kind and gentle folks, who accepted everybody, no matter what their origin, race, color, age, occupation, or gender. As a published author and writer,  to maintain integrity, I make every effort to continue with that tradition;  Christian values, life lessons, honesty, and above all, common sense, a trait too often overlooked in hot-button debates such as these.

Let us consider the great niqab debate. 

A niqab is a traditional head covering that covers the face but exposes the eyes.  It is not to be confused with the 'hijab'  which is a head-scarf covering for the head and hair,  or the 'burqua'  which is a complete covering including the head,  eyes and body of the woman wearing it.

So— Do Canadians Prefer to see the Faces of Others?

I'll go first.  IHMO, yes.  Most certainly  I prefer to see the faces of other people around me,  and here's why.  An open, exposed face is an instant first-impression evaluation and confirmation of identity with a simple glance. Instinctively, as a matter of human self-preservation, faces covered are construed  naturally as a potential danger, as someone who may have something to hide,  or be someone with less than honest intent. First impressions--rightly or wrongly.

You can decide for yourself, but fact is, it is a natural human instinct to be wary of the unknown entity, the unexpected, the covered face, the stranger, regardless of the type of mask. Does your natural instinct upset you?  Does that offend ?  "Feel-good " social manipulators take advantage of that fact.  Contrary to popular opinion,  politicians insist it is "non-inclusive, " "being intolerant" 'Un-Canadian"  and "racist";  apparently they are certain they know the natural instincts of Canadian human beings better than Mother Nature herself.

*Polls suggest the majority of Canadians know better. The majority of Canadians want the niqab and burqua banned in public places; particularly in traditional Canadian ceremonies such as the swearing of an oath for Canadian citizenship and courts of law (1). 

Is Human Distrust of the Niqab-Covered Face  instant "Islamophobia"?

Liberal politicians would have you believe the distrust of the niqab is Islamophobia, but NO, it is not.   In western culture, the covered face has always been associated with evil  intent.  Murderers, thieves, bank robbers, break-in artists and burglars, stage-coach robbers and horse thieves  in the old west all wore face masks. Rapists, looters and and rioters inciting trouble in modern, peaceful demonstrations invariably choose to wear face masks. Evil spirits favour the dark, which is simply another form of mask. Racists, the KKK.  Masked rabble-rousers invade peaceful demonstrations and less than stellar characters committing home invasions all prefer to wear masks or hoods to hide both their identities and their agendas. The common petty thief holding up the Mac's Milk on the street corner near you —will wear a balaclava, hood, or mask. The Western world is  conditioned to be wary of the covered face, regardless how innocent it may actually be.

Strangely enough, 'super-heroes' in North American culture, individuals  like Batman and Robin, Zorro, and Spiderman wear masks too, but it must be pointed out that we, the omniscient comic-book observers and movie-goers--are allowed to see their super-hero faces unmasked in the super-hero's  own, safe environment.  We know who THEY are.

The Niqab Wearer --What does SHE Think of the Covered Face?

We cannot be so foolish as to pretend we know what is in the mind of the woman (or person) wearing the Niqab or any other face covering,  but dear readers, in the interest of fairness,  let us try.  Perhaps the niqab-wearer feels more confident in her own undercover world, assured that she is not identifiable. The value of anonymity. Being allowed to do anything she pleases. Really? That might be a stretch...but  would not be surprising considering the human penchant for role-playing, the characteristic human female desire to be "mysterious".  Fine.  Perhaps everyone should try it sometime.  Masks can be naughty. You get the idea. Perhaps, instead,  though, closer to reality, we should be asking, "what does the Niqab-wearer think—if a fully-masked 'person'  approaches her on a vacant street, in the late evening, or in the dark?" Or just outside of the bank as she's making a deposit?  Is she afraid? What is her natural instinct? To run? To escape?  To hide?  Is she wary, or afraid, like any average person, male or female, adult,  senior, or child might be?  Would she be wary, and be looking for potential help?  If she is followed by a masked person, would she be preparing to escape or defend herself?  Flight or flight.  Of course. To pretend otherwise is completely illogical and unnatural. So we must assume correct answer is yes, she would at least be wary, if not afraid for her very life, seek help, or get out the cell-phone and pepper-spray.... How then, can the same  niqab-wearer expect Canadians to appreciate a double standard?  We anticipate the fascinating answer to that question. 

The Niqab Debate and Religion

Although the mandatory wearing of the niqab because of religious beliefs has been offered by some niqab-wearers who infer the niqab is required by Islam, conflicting information suggests the niqab  is not a requirement of the Quran at all. Perhaps it is more realistic to recognize that social pressure from a controlling ancient culture, zealous males in her family  should not be confused with strict religious edicts. In observation, is it logical that " women free to dress as they wish" would be voluntarily and happily wearing stifling, black full-face coverings in 45C Middle East heat? No.   Our brilliant readers may offer alternative suitable answers to this dilemma. Here at Incoming Bytes we neither offer or  pretend to know all of the "politically-correct" answers expected in the contentious niquab debate.

Does the Niqab remind us of ISIS and a new world threat?

Are we leery of the niqab and the covered face because ISIS (ISIL) is inciting fear with mindless murder, terrorist activities,  threats, and ISIS images invariably show all faces covered? ISIS is inciting fear of Islam, in spite of the fact that mainstream Islam has issued a fatwah against ISIS, insisting "they" are not Islamic.  Have the scenes of murder, beheading, ethnic cleansing and genocide reduced Western tolerance for anything Islamic, including the niquab which is perceived to be 'Islamic' ? What  do YOU think instantly when YOU see someone wearing a niquab? It reminds one of  war,  ISIS and terrorism, again, rightly or wrongly.The suggestion that ISIS women also wear suicidal explosive belts is not helpful either. Neither is the image that suggests lunatic terrorist males could be hidden under flowing robes and niqab or burqua. Likely? No. Possible? Yes. 

Niqab and the Law in Canada

A recent Federal Court ruling struck down a ban on the niqab and other face coverings during citizenship oaths. The logical question must be asked: Why would Canada allow any unidentifiable person to disrespect our citizenship oaths? Does that mean anyone can now take a citizenship oath with a fully-masked face? Not on your life; —it involves 'special treatment' for the niqab-wearer. Based on the concept of 'equal treatment of persons' required under the Canada Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the niqab-wearer also has advantage over all other Canadians in that she(?) can see the faces of Canadians, but they are not allowed to see HER face. It seems logical that is not equal treatment under Canadian law either.... What do YOU think?  

Does Society in Canada have a right to dictate how women dress?

No. Of course not. To politicize the issue and  turn the niqab into a 'dress code' issue and 'repression of women's rights'  is ludicrous.

The best Part:  The Niqab debate and Common Sense

It seems totally logical that Canadians, politicians and feel-good social manipulators must eventually come to understand it is NOT necessary to alter our laws, traditions, ceremonies or change, diminish, modify our culture and customs to please newcomers of any ethnicity  who CHOSE to come to Canada as a better place to live. In  fact, changing OUR culture and laws is a complete disservice to newcomers who, although perhaps homesick for their homelands and culture,  DID choose to come to Canada for something BETTER--a better life, kinder laws, you name it.  SO, why would "leaders" freely and so easily modify Canada  to "accomodate" ? Changing Canadian values, law,  and customs for ANY other culture is NOT necessary to respect people of other ethnicities, even if they insist on wearing a niqab. "Those who flee oppression oft' flee to oppression of their own" comes to mind. Let us not change Canada to mimic their homelands, whatever they may be, niquab or not. Time to grow up, Canada. #   Is that Incoming I hear?  

* A recent  Leger poll taken for the Association for Canadian Studies, indicates some 70% of Canadians agreed with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's controversial statements regarding face coverings, and fully 60% of respondents feel the niqab should be banned in public spaces, for example, while taking the oath to become Canadian, or at the proceedings in Canadian courts of law.

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About Raymond Alexander Kukkee

A published author and freelance writing professional, Raymond lives and writes in Northwestern Ontario.
This entry was posted in Civilization, Humanity, Major Issues, Reflections, The Human Mind and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Issues: The Great Niqab Debate

  1. This is a test comment in response to the advice of an alert IB reader who found the comment system not responding properly. Hopefully the problem has been repaired…..Thank you! “:)

  2. W.L. says:

    hello, I think all women should take charge and dress as they wish, no matter which culture they are in, as long as they comply with legal requirements of the country they live in.

  3. EXCELLENT post, Ray. I have been following the discussion too. If a woman wants to wear the niqab then I say let her, no matter where she happens to be at the time. If she feels forced to wear it then by all means let her remove it. But I do not support people who want her to remove it when she doesn’t want to; she may feel comfort in the tradition and take pride in her culture. Thank you Ray for the post on such an important issue right now.

    • Thank you, Christyb! This issue is not going to go away soon, is it…. I do hope everyone uses common sense, reason and considers all aspects of the subject. No individual should be made to feel violated. There is the issue of the “identity” which can be resolved with protocol, Collective fear and apprehension is never an appropriate response to a problem; inciting fear (in this instance Islamophobia) is unacceptable opportunism by politicians –but equally, the ‘opposition’ politicians making it a partisan issue and calling genuine concerns of Canadians ‘racist’ and ignoring genuine concerns will not resolve the issue either. At some point, this must become a mainstream debate with a generous and thoughtful solution applied in a non-partisan manner…
      Thank you so much for commenting, Christyb! (pssst…and advising me the system was glitched! ) “:)

      • I’m glad the comment system worked itself out here too, Ray. I enjoy following your posts and munching on ice cream sandwiches together 🙂 I hope your week is going wonderfully over there!

  4. Thanks, Christyb, it is functioning correctly now. And the week is going great, although I thought there might be more commentary on this topic, I guess it’s a sensitive issue in some ways. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Christyb 🙂
    ~R

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