Muslim Women Stand Up and Speak Out About the Veil

(MISSISSAUGA, Canada – December 22, 2011) The Federation of Muslim Women (FMW) today responded to the recent unilateral and arbitrary decision made by the Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, prohibiting Muslim women from wearing the face veil or the ‘niqab’ during the Oath of Citizenship ceremony. FMW is simply asking the questions: What’s next? Where does it end? What is the underlying motivation?

The Minister justified the ban on the grounds that the Muslim face veil, the “niqab” interfered with the requirement of making an “open” and “public” declaration of citizenship. The justification is irrational and is devoid of any reasonable explanation. The ban appears to be a tiny step in the guise of “public” interest and “national” allegiance, but a giant step towards instilling public fear and isolation of Muslim women who choose to be different. Is the ban the beginning of subtle persuasion by various government bodies towards legitimizing Prime Minister Harper’s unfounded fear of his so called “Islamism”?

The Charter guarantees every citizen of Canada the fundamental freedom to choose and practice his or her religion without discrimination. Therefore, all persons have the right to wear any clothing that signifies his or her religious or non-religious beliefs. The ban ignores this very basic right and violates a person’s right to choose and practice his or her religion
without discrimination and/or reprisal. If such regulation goes unchecked, then where will it end?

FMW is shocked that such a ban would be sustainable without any public outcry. FMW urges all people to stand up and voice their disgust for such unfounded and arbitrary conduct. FMW asks Canadians to take action now, before it’s too late by remembering the famous quotation attributed to the German pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power: “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Rabia Khedr, spokeswoman for the FMW stated: “When law makers are allowed to exercise their powers to articulate a small act of racism and we remain silent, we have opened the gate for future acts to demonize, dehumanize and eliminate rights for targeted groups. United, we stand for women to choose how they dress in this society. Let’s stand as one sisterhood in humanity whether we wear our hair, hijab or niqab, turban, pugree, the sheital,
mitpachat and mantle.”