Niqab in the news: Let’s hear both sides of the story

Once again, the niqab is back in the news, this time regarding a Quebec women who’s taking a college to the Human Rights Commission because it reportedly expelled her for not taking off her niqab. She’s an immigrant taking French-language classes paid for by the government.

There has been widespread discussion and condemnation of this woman and her behaviour. The problem: So far, it has all been based on what the school and the government have said.  Folks all around (Muslims included) have been jumping to conclusions without hearing the woman’s side of the story.

If you read the school and government’s account, it does seem like she was asking for too much. Yet, that’s assuming everything they’re saying is 100% accurate. But in the absence of her side of the story, it’s unfair to jump to conclusions and condemn her for what she supposedly demanded.

Golden rule (found in Islamic principles as well): Hear all sides of the story, then decide.

Kudos to the CBC for finding her and getting at least some comment from her. (See: Niqab veil-wearing Montrealer feels treated unfairly)

Plus, since when did seeing the face become an integral part of learning French? French, unlike Arabic, doesn’t have specific points of articulation that would require seeing the tongue or lips. Niqabis have learned French in the past, while wearing their niqabs. Why is it an issue now?

UPDATE: Something else came to mind. The original LaPresse article on this states the college told the woman she was free to take the course online if she didn’t want to take her niqab off. If seeing the face is so important to learning French, how do the online courses work?


Day after Canada’s hockey win, Canada’s hockey loss

As the country goes wild over its men’s ice hockey gold at the Vancouver Olympics, another Team Canada put up a strong effort but fell short by a goal, half way around the world at the field hockey World Cup in Delhi, India. Canada lost 3-2 to New Zealand in its first game at the tournament today.

This is the first time since 1998 that Canada has made it to the field hockey World Cup. Canada has won only 5 of 29 World Cup games.

For all the flag-waving patriotic Canadians out there, are you going to support the field hockey team or are you going pretend you don’t know about them because they’re losers? Do you support your country’s sportsmen only when they’re winners?


Niqab in Denmark: Same story, two different spins

Here’s a clear example of how one story can be spun in different ways.

The story: Denmark’s Prime Minister says while the “burqa and niqab have no place in Danish society,” the government is not going to impose an outright ban.

Agence France Press, a French newswire service, sends out this story: Burka and niqab have no place in Denmark, PM says.

Meanwhile, the Copenhagen Post, Denmark’s only English-language newspaper, has this story: No burka ban forthcoming.

Can you spot the difference?


Omar Khadr’s rights violated, government should do something: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Canada has just issued a ruling on the Omar Khadr case. Here’s the summary of the ruling, in the Court’s own words:

“The appropriate remedy in this case is to declare that K’s Charter rights were violated, leaving it to the government to decide how best to respond in light of current information, its responsibility over foreign affairs, and the Charter.”

So the Court is saying: Yes, Khadr’s rights were violated. We’re not going to order you (the government) to bring him home from Guantanamo, but we expect you to do something to fix this.
The court has also awarded costs to Khadr.

For anyone who’s interested, the David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights, part of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, was one  of the intervenors and supported Khadr’s case.