I can already hear the cries of the apologists and the intellectual gymnastics of the conspiracy nuts over the consideration that the Islamic head-dress – the Burka – poses a threat against public safety. And it does. Aside from the implications of misogyny, and the moral offense of denying a human being the right to a public identity, the Burka makes the individual wearing it completely unrecognizable. Over the last several years Canadian officials, especially in immigration departments, and others that require identification photos to be used in documentation, have struggled with the decision to make face-covering apparel illegal while partaking in certain government-specific functions.
On December 12, 2011, Canadian Minister of immigration, Jason Kenney declared that “Allowing a group to hide their faces while they are becoming members of our community is counter to Canada’s commitment to openness, equality and social cohesion” His position, as loaded with common sense as it stood to many, was met with incredible criticism and rebuke.
The original article by The National Post can be found here: http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/12/12/niqabs-burkas-must-be-removed-during-citizenship-ceremonies-jason-kenney/
Following the decision by the immigration minister, the province of Quebec put in place (Bill 49) a ban for Burkas in government funded institutions like its offices, and in hospitals and some school nurseries. As it is expected of any criticism of Islam, this decision by the Quebec provincial government was met with accusations of racism and bigotry against Muslims as people. In a well written article for the Toronto Sun, founding Editor Peter Worthington dismantles these accusations as a baseless defense for an archaic practice of male dominance, and defends Bill 49 with statements like this: “While worthy of debate and discussion, what the new Quebec law is not, is racist. Rather, it is an effort to promote or enhance racial and gender equality.”
Everyone should take the time to read it and come to their own conclusion – http://www.torontosun.com/news/columnists/peter_worthington/2010/03/29/13400986.html
The safety implications of the burka are many. A simple Google search regarding this issue returns millions of hits with articles ranging from driver-license violations, voting fraud committed in countries where women have the right to vote, and robberies and property invasions by individuals wearing the traditional attire in question. The case of Mona Clara Jewellery store in Toronto is worth mentioning, here. Two males wearing burkas entered the store in the morning of October 14, 2014 and managed to get away with thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise; they are still at large and police so far have found it impossible to identify them.
There is no racism in the Canadian attempt to uphold our traditions of openness. The main defense against this custom of oppression against women is that the state has no right to tell people how to dress (and it’s true, they don’t); that the women of Islam choose to wear Burka. But when we are talking about “freedom” of expression and choice Islam isn’t the best framework to use as a criterion by which to define human liberties. It [Islam] is dense full of dictates against women’s rights, and direct violations of human rights in general, as most religious text are. Further, if we are to take the word of the women who defend such provisions of compulsory religious attire we must also consider the consequences of opting out of them, which are more often than not dire to the individual making such choice. It is true, and according to history, that the Burka did not originate from within the Islamic charter but that it was adopted by most of its early adherents as an inherited mechanism of control over the female population that is still prevalent today.
Even if we buy into the perverse cultural and moral relativistic meme-complexes of the last couple of decades and agree to respect the way that others behave and treat each other within their own religious context, which is an intellectually lazy way of looking at social reality, at the very least we have the issue of safety to justify opposing the tacit oppressive coercion that the wearers of the Burka and hijab are subjected to. We should be afraid of covered faces, we cannot interpret intention or emotion from a harsh, black cloth sac that hovers over what is clearly a human being denied of their natural right to feel the sun on their skin. The same evolutionary traits that afforded us the ability to expand our circle of sentiments – and by reason – to develop essential human traits like empathy and compassion compel us to say no to such tools of subjugation. It is this and countless reasons why we should ban the Burka, and not only in government areas, but everywhere. Our species needs to move away from the ways of ancient, desert-dwelling tribes into states conducive to the total emancipation of the human mind.
The Burka is not only about the subjugation of women, it is about the ignorance of man that brings about heinous crimes against our own humanity.