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October 28, 2017 2:17 am

Facing up to the niqab issue

Thursday, October 1, 2015 @ 3:45 AM
Prince George, B.C. – Got your knickers in a knot over the niqab?

Then there’s something you should read. No, not the drivel I dribble out from time to time (OK, most of the time), but rather something from Martyn Brown, former chief of staff for Premier Gordon Campbell.Brown’s article in the Georgia Strait “How Stephen Harper’s niqab divide demeans us all,” should be required reading for all Canadians who want to beak off on this issue.

 He points out few things that are lost in the heated rhetoric surrounding the issue and which the mainstream media in this country (willingly?) ignore.
Firstly, Zunera Ishaq, the woman at the centre of the issue, has actually been a Canadian citizen since 2013. She revealed her face when she took her citizenship test. She revealed her face when she got her driver’s licence.
The entire issue is whether she can wear a niqab during the citizenship ceremony, which is, well, ceremonial.
If anyone has ever been to one, they’re pretty simple affairs … although very emotional for those taking the oath. There is usually lots of family present. And there are tears, particularly from those who have escaped from a nasty place.
The new citizens, who have already passed their citizenship test, gather in a room and someone in authority, usually a judge, says a few words, gets the new citizens to stand up, raise their right hand and take the oath. The oath is short and sweet, just a couple of sentences.
There can be as many as 50 people or more taking the oath all at once.
I’ve covered a few over the years and the reality is (as Brown points out), no one actually checks, or listens, to ensure all the new citizens actually say the oath.
A new citizen could hold their citizenship scroll, which they also get, in front of their face while uttering the oath and no one would say “boo.” They could mumble, like most of us do when we’re singing the national anthem, they could just keep their mouth shut, or, they could avoid the ceremony altogether, and still become a citizen.
So now the entire country is all bent out of shape over something that is, in the scheme of things, irrelevant.
I wonder how many of those who think Canadian society is on the brink of collapse because of this, have actually attended a citizenship ceremony or actually know the words to the oath.
We have allowed ourselves to get worked up into a tizzy over this issue, and we shouldn’t.
Here’s the link for anyone who wants to give Brown’s article a read: http://www.straight.com/news/543966/martyn-brown-how-stephen-harpers-niqab-divide-demeans-us-all .
Bill Phillips is a freelance columnist living in Prince George. He was the winner of the 2009 Best Editorial award at the British Columbia/Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s Ma Murray awards, in 2007 he won the association’s Best Columnist award. In 2004, he placed third in the Canadian Community Newspaper best columnist category and, in 2003, placed second. He can be reached at billphillips1@mac.com


Because, Bill it’s a slippery slope.

Ever heard of “give an inch,they’ll take a mile”?

Compromise a tradition, then they set their sights on the next domino to fall.

Ie: if you allow them to conceal their face in the ceremony, it sets a precedence and nest they’ll use it to justify hiding in all the proceedings.

That’s how a country’s strength erodes from within, when we have extraordinary proceedings for just some people.

And no, I’m not paranoid. I believe in equal justice and application of law to all, not setting special circumstances for special groups.

Agree with BCGrog.
I attended as well a few years ago, it was very emotional, nobody had to hide the face. Each person was called to the front and received the certificate – so we all could see, who became a new Canadian Citizen.
As long as we are not Citizens, we are guests here and should behave like that. There is no need, to change laws or whatever. When we apply for citizenship, we know. that Canada is a Western country. If we do not like it, we should not try to become a citizen here.

Force them to assimilate into Canadian culture.

You three should try taking your little heads out of your collective behinds and see that this is a total non-issue. So far, it has prevented a grand total of two women from becoming Canadians – wow, stop the presses!
This is nothing more than a meaningless distraction.

Krusty, read grogs “slippery slope” comments again. That is the issue, not the number it would have effected.

Back in the good old days (and this comment is laced with sarcasm) you could give the old lady a good belt across the chops, a black eye, and some shots to the gut for getting out of line – and then tell her to tell everyone she fell down the stairs, or she’d get more of the same. And if you accidentally broke something, and she ended up in hospital, she’d tell the doctor the story you gave her, and though he and everyone else knew better, he and everyone else figured it was none of their business.

Then one sad day, someone changed the law that all suspected spousal abuse must be reported to the police, who must open up an investigation whether they get victim cooperation or not, because it was felt that just maybe the power imbalance between men and women meant women couldn’t always stick up for themselves, and maybe society needed to step in.

Now I’m being told to believe that women voluntarily wear essentially a bag over the heads because they want to, and I call B.S. It’s their backward thinking religiously confused men that are making them do it, and in this Canada, women are equal, and one of the ways we can help them be equal, is when see male motivated abuse, we put a stop to it. Until someone can prove to me that these women really really enjoy living under a tent, and their dark ages men have nothing to do with it, then I’ll be okay with it. But not till then.

Oh, and just an aside, how can we tell if a woman is getting smacked around if she’s covered head to toe. Very convenient custom.

Meanwhile I’m going to wear my ceremonial balaclava every time I go through airport security and see how I do.


Appeasement, complacency, picking and choosing what laws and traditions we uphold and making exceptions for special interests are what eventually lead to things such as adopting Sharia law coast to coast.

Quite frankly, we live in Canada. If people want to maintain their customs, laws and their cultures at the expense of ours, I would rather they stay where they came from.

If I was in that ceremony, I would take offense at a woman covering herself head to toe. Almost like everyone else isn’t entitled to see her, yet she wants to benefit from and be part of our society and a citizen of our country?

We are Canadians. Within our kaleidoscope population, everyone is free to celebrate their religions and cultures.

But first, they are Canadian, and should be honour bound to uphold our federal requirements especially when they want to be accepted as a new citizen.

Absolutely agree with BCGrog

Even this article (and I agree with Bill) aids and abets Harper and his attempts to steer the attention of voters away from the real issues facing this country!

They already agree to revealing their identity (by unveiling) before the ceremony and for drivers license picture taking. I really do not think that what happens during the ceremony is a big deal. Harper is milking the issue as a calculated distraction, in my opinion.

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