Dawn- Friday, 09 Oct, 2009
We want to recognize gender equality as an absolute. The burqa marginalizes women’: Muslim Canadian Congress.
OTTAWA: A Muslim group on Thursday called for a ban on the wearing of burqas in public in Canada, saying it ‘marginalizes women.’
‘The burqa has absolutely no place in Canada,’ said Farzana Hassan of the Muslim Canadian Congress.
‘In Canada we recognize the equality of men and women. We want to recognize gender equality as an absolute. The burqa marginalizes women.’
Many Muslim women in this country are being forced to wear the loose robe and veil by their husbands and family, setting them apart from other Canadian women who are living freely, she claimed.
Hassan acknowledged the Quran preaches modesty, but ‘it doesn’t have to be that you have to cover your face or you have to wear a virtual tent wherever you go. This is not a requirement of Islam or the Quran.’
Hassan blamed extremist Muslims for its rising popularity in Canada. ‘To counter this trend, we are asking for a ban on the burqa,’ she said.
The call follows an edict by a top Muslim authority in Egypt calling for a ban on the burqa.
Several European countries, including France, Italy and Denmark, have also called for burqa bans in recent years.
Last year, an Ontario judge ruled that a woman testifying against her alleged rapist does not have the right based on religious beliefs to wear a veil in court. The decision is being appealed.
In 2007, a controversy also erupted over a Quebec election official’s decree to Muslim women to remove their veil at the ballot box so that their identity could be verified.
Hassan was not able to say exactly how many women in Canada wear the burqa, but said ‘it is on the rise’ in Toronto and Montreal.
According to a 2006 census, there are some 800,000 Muslims living in Canada.
The Muslim Canadian Congress, which has some 300 members, describes itself as ‘providing a voice to Muslims who are not represented by existing organizations … that are either sectarian or ethnocentric, largely authoritarian, and influenced by a fear of modernity and an aversion to joy.’ — AFP