Just when I thought things couldn't get any more bizarre surrounding the niqab debate in Canada...I read the most er, 'surprising' article by a niqabi woman....claiming her niqab gave her a voice.
Yes and cheeseburgers help me lose weight, handcuffs help me feel liberated, etc.
This debate has been heated with both sides speaking passionately. However, some perspectives are missing from the discussion at large - making it a little one dimensional. The whole thing has been brought about by Pakistani immigrant Zunera Ishaq's refusal to take off her *face* veil in citizenship court, where absolutely no one else gets to wear a mask.
This rigidity, this sense of superiority...this opposition to following rules that EVERYONE else has to abide by, asking for religious privileges, this is exactly the kind of political Islam that I have seen my birth country, Pakistan, be destroyed by.
Many a Muslim cleric will even tell you that the face veil is not a mandatory part of Islam. This is not about religion necessarily, this is about not backing down, this is about ego. This is about politics. This is about 'playing the race card', when this is not a 'card' to play... racism is a real and very horrible experience, and yet some people are attempting to manufacture a tinge of racism here.... to use it to their gain. How are they any better than the opportunistic politicians they seem to oppose?
This is about using freedom to propagate oppression. It's truly an insult to myself, my family, and many immigrants like us ...that are regular people...who are not manipulative in this way, who do not demand 'special' privileges under the guise of multiculturalism or cultural relativism....We are happy to abide by rules and laws meant for everyone. We are happy to extend a hand in friendship and to meet others, to learn about other cultures while sharing ours. We hare happy to be reasonable, to give and take, to find a balance in our new country's culture as well as our birth country's culture. We are happy and proud to embrace both.
I thought framing the niqab as some sort of feminist tool of bodily autonomy was the most ludicrous, topsy turvy thing I'd ever heard of... but today this letter to the Prime Minister from niqabi-Canadian, Aysha Luqman-Pandor seems to have surpassed that. She frames the niqab (the epitome of misogyny) as a tool of empowerment. Oh the irony...And as far as I can tell, this letter is not meant as a submission to The Onion.
I had so many thoughts while reading it. I thought I'd unpack some of what I was thinking for you here. It is so easy for extremists and fundamentalists... apologists for the awful that religion in general does, that Islam does, to shut down critique by screaming racist, or bigot. Those words or even the implication of those things will scare most reasonable, well intentioned people into silence. Anyway, here we go:
Here's the maddeningly manipulative and misleading title (for those who do not know what the niqab is about, or know much about Islam)
'My Niqab Gave Me a Voice'
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