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?

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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.

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Wearing niqab in France could cost up to $2,200

The French parliamentary report on the wearing of niqab and burqa in France is now online.

The report estimates there are 1,900 niqabis in France, of which:

  • 50% are under age 30
  • 90% are under 40
  • 66% are French citizens, half of which are 2nd and 3rd generation French
  • 25% are converts to Islam
  • 41% are Salafis

The report also:

  • repeats the myth that the niqab is a non-Islamic practice
  • attempts to study interpretations and evidences of niqab
  • suggests the wearing of niqab points towards identity issues and is a sign of radical movements
  • admits many young women wear the niqab by choice, primarily for two reasons: “the search for purity in practice of a more austere worship” and secondly “to create distance with a society considered to be perverted.”

There’s also an entire section on Salafism.

The report spends quite a bit of time studying niqab in various countries (north African as well as in the West), including Canada.

“In Canada, we have seen, this issue prospers on the exploitation of the judicial theory of ‘reasonable accommodation rights.’ We have noted though that this judicial notion is being questioned more and more in this country.”

It also discusses Quebec’s Bouchard-Taylor commission on reasonable accommodation and the Ontario court ruling on whether a woman can testify in court wearing niqab.

There’s a discussion on possible punishment for niqabis. The ideas discussed are:

  • a maximum fine of 1,500 euros ($2,245 Canadian) for the first offence and a maximum of 3,000 euros ($4,480 Canadian) for repeat offences
  • a mandatory course on “rights, history of the Republic, history of feminism and on religions”

Near the end, they try to figure out how they’re actually going to enforce prohibition. In the worst case scenario, if a niqabi refuses to identify herself, thus making it impossible to fine her, she could be taken to a police station and ordered to submit fingerprints and be photographed. If she refuses, she could be found guilty of an offence and fined 3,750 euros ($5,600 Canadian) and be thrown in jail for 3 months.

Tip: If you need translation help in reading the report, try Yahoo Babel Fish. It worked best for me.

UPDATE: The panel behind the report couldn’t agree on whether to call for a total ban on niqab or just ban niqab from public buildings and services, according to Reuters.

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