TORONTO (JTA) -- Quebec's Orthodox Jewish community is fighting a bill that would ban women from wearing a Muslim face veil when receiving government services.
Quebec's proposed legislation would ban the wearing of the Islamic face veil -- the niqab and burka -- in those situations.More Jews who know squat about Islam, and who therefore see the issue as one of protecting "rights" instead of the relentless march of Islamic law (a law that, ironically, enshrines inequities and considers Jewry to be lesser than Muslims).
Appearing Wednesday before a Quebec National Assembly hearing, the Jewish Orthodox Council for Community Relations said that by placing gender rights above religious rights, the bill would create a hierarchy of individual rights and freedoms that would be challenged in courts.
According to the Toronto-based Globe and Mail newspaper, the group warned the government against adopting "hard and fast rules" that could exacerbate tensions surrounding religious minorities.
The bill conflicts with both the federal and provincial Charter of Rights, the Jewish group's legal counsel, Lionel Perez, told a committee studying the legislation.
"It will lead to court challenges, and if it leads to court challenges there will be more media coverage," Perez said. "If there is more media coverage, it will lead to more scrutiny, and it will exacerbate the social tensions.
"The government has to be equal towards its citizens, meaning that it doesn't distinguish between religions. And it has to ensure that it does not impose its view, whether religious or secular."
The council's arguments clashed with other groups that are demanding an even tougher law that would emphasize Quebec's secularism.
Update: CAIR-Can founder and occasional Globe and Mail opiner Sheema Khan defends the "right" to wear a niqab on the witness stand:
...And now, in 2010, we have a sexual assault case in which the alleged victim is pilloried for her choice of dress. While there are legitimate questions about witness credibility and the niqab (masterfully addressed by the Court of Appeal), the complainant has been attacked for undermining liberal democracy; for being brainwashed; for unwittingly advancing the march of political Islam; and for negating womanhood.
We admire the courage of Theo Fleury, Sheldon Kennedy and Nathalie Simard for refusing to play the victim any longer. And we know that, for every high-profile case of sexual abuse of minors, there are others who suffer in silence, too ashamed, perhaps too broken, to pursue this path. And that’s why we extend our moral support to these brave souls. Yet, apparently not if the alleged victim wears a niqab.
True, many Canadians feel extreme discomfort with the niqab, as it often evokes negative images of the treatment of women in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Many assume that women are forced to wear it in Canada, and are often incredulous when informed otherwise. Others see no need to balance values of the Charter of Rights – a position at odds with the Supreme Court of Canada. And many are ready to deny basic rights of a liberal democratic society, such as access to health care and education, to niqabis (see Quebec’s proposed Bill 94). How far are we willing to go?
To those who believe the niqab is a tool of oppression, isn’t “freedom of choice” the answer to oppression? Outspoken Afghan critic Malalai Joya dislikes the burka, but she fights for the rights of women to make personal choices. “It is against the very basic element of democracy to restrict a human being from wearing the clothes of his/her choice.”Nice try with the "choice" thing, Sheema. No doubt plenty of G&M readers will be comforted by such spin. Problem is--as you well know--once you start to "balance" Western values with sharia ones, soon enough you are bound to get a gross imbalance. That's because in the great civilizational see-saw, sharia law allows for only one kind of "equilibrium"--Allah's law the heavyeight and in control, and kafir law which is man-made and therefore insubstantial (and invalid) outweighed and plum out of luck.