Tag Archives: niqab

This is how you build a movement: CAMWL invites us to go Beyond the Niqab

The Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law has had a lot to respond to of late.  Here’s their most recent – a list of 8 actions we can take to support women’s equality.  Follow them on twitter at @camwlnews.

Do you think it’s unacceptable to deny women citizenship because of what they wear? Do you think the endless debates about women’s clothing are a distraction from the real issues we should be talking about this election season and every day? If you answered yes, you are part of a large, strong, and diverse community […]

Source: Beyond the Niqab: 8 Ways You Can Improve Women’s Equality in Canada – Canadian Association of Muslim Women in Law

We can do more than just voting.

Incidentally, can I call attention to the way that CAMWL put in #4 and #6

4. Condemn police racial profiling, which disproportionately targets Black and other racialized communities in Canada.

6. Demand Canada investigate and end the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, of whom there are thousands, to say nothing of the countless Indigenous people killed and scarred by residential schools, disproportionate incarceration, and systemic dispossession.

and nehiyaw educator Tasha Spillett‘s article for CBC the other week?

When I heard the words “barbaric cultural practices” fall from the mouth of Conservative candidate Kellie Leitch late last week, I instinctively wanted to pick up the phone. Not to report on practices at variance with this narrow conception of “Canadian values,” but because I felt a searing urgency to check-in with my sisters.


That said, it wasn’t the women from my own indigenous community that drew my concern following Leitch’s election broadcast. It was, instead, a grave worry for the well-being of my Muslim sisters, their families and their communities.

There are more of these moments. They build and break my heart, to see communities reaching out to each other despite their own tough times, to see these connections recognized and forged.   This is how we will build our movement.


Denise Reaume on the ugly trolling of anti-niqab politics, and our Prime Troll

Over at the U of T Faculty Blog, U of T Prof Denise Reaume calls it like it is:

This troll gets his ugly musings published on the front page of every media outlet in the country. This troll’s musings give licence to trollish behaviour in others.  And if we ignore him, this troll will be reelected. When the Prime Minister behaves like the Prime Troll, it is time for all Canadians who believe in decency and civil discourse to stand up and demand an end to this, whatever their views on the niqab.

Source: “Don’t feed the trolls”, they say. What if the Prime Minister is the Prime Troll? | University of Toronto Faculty of Law

As a small example of this trolling, some algorithm decided to stick this “suggested post” into my Facebook feed.

advertisement for the Conservative Party of Canada, "It is offensive that a person would conceal their identity at the very moment that they are committing to join the Canadian family." Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  A picture of Harper.  two large buttons (green/Agree) and (Red/Disagree).  the shoes are cute, but where is the button for “you’re offensive at this very moment, Mr. Prime Minister”? I need that.



Natasha Bakht on the Niqab

photo of Natasha BakhtUniversity of Ottawa Law Professor Natasha Bakht has recently published a pair of op-eds critiquing the view that religious face coverings such as the niqab are “anti-woman.” They are well worth a read and can be found here (Ottawa Sun), and here (TVO).

The federal ban on wearing a face covering while taking the Oath of Citizenship has become an important election issue in recent days, following a Federal Court of Appeal decision (Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v Ishaq, 2015 FCA 194) which dismissed the government’s appeal from a Federal Court decision finding that the ban was unlawful (Ishaq v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2015 FC 156).

The case was brought by a Muslim woman named Zunera Ishaq who has competed all of the steps towards becoming a Canadian citizen except the ceremony.  Ishaq says that she is unable to comply with the requirement to remove her niqab at the ceremony due to her faith.

A few favourite quotations from the op-eds:

Zunera Ishaq, the woman at the centre of the niqab-citizenship controversy has specifically said “It’s precisely because I won’t listen to how other people want me to live my life that I wear a niqab. Some of my own family members have asked me to remove it. I have told them that I prefer to think for myself.”

A central tenet of modern feminism is that we listen to the voices of women. We do not assume that we know what is better for them. The prime minister has made up a fictitious threat to women’s equality, essentially suggesting that niqab-wearing women have been duped. But there are real issues involving vulnerable women that need our government’s attention. In the past two decades, more than 1,000 Indigenous women have gone missing or have been murdered in Canadian communities.

(Ottawa Sun)

We could learn some things from niqab-wearing women and their quiet, determined conviction. I imagine it is not easy to wear a full-face veil in a country where the prime minister distorts facts in order to rile up public resentment. But they have persevered in their daily lives, going to work, raising their children, explaining their choices when asked and speaking out, as all Canadians should when faced with discrimination.


Professor Bakht has written extensively on the rights of niqab-wearing women. Her work was cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 2012 case about a sexual assault complainant who sought to testify while wearing the niqab (R v NS, 2012 SCC 72). She’s also an Indian contemporary dancer and choreography, which is just so cool.






They were right/ when they said/ we should never meet our heroes

Maybe it is true that we should never meet our heroes, – or maybe we need to be  our own heroes.  Have a look at this great piece by Amna Quereshi, recent Ottawa Law grad,  in the Toronto Star.   I can’t say that I was at all surprised or any further disappointed by former Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé’s position on the Quebec Charter of Values, but I think that Amna’s piece exposes some of the reasons that we could be surprised.  I’m glad Amna had a chance to meet the judge, and to revise her impressions.  Lionizing judges is one way of coping with law school (remember all the love for Denning?) but it can be a very tricky business.  Especially when they are still out there, saying things.

Standing beside you, I felt a great sense of connection and shared passion for the law, equality and justice. I remember this meeting so clearly and often look back on it as a pivotal moment in my life — a symbol of how far I have come. You see, having been born and raised in rural Alberta with parents who had emigrated from Pakistan to give us a better life, I faced tough odds to get to where I am today. I have fought against oppression for much of my life and feel that I thrive in spite of it even today.Given all this, I was confused and shocked to read that you consider the complete face covering for Muslim women a sign of “oppression” and believe that explicit rules, entrenched in legislation, on what is unacceptable in the name of secularism will ensure that immigrants “become like us.”

via Retired Supreme Court justice wrong to endorse Quebec values charter | Toronto Star.


Need something to read? Twitter Roundup Part II


@JillFilipovic 18 Sep  In the @munkdebate feminist universe, all the men are obsolete and all the women are white. http://www.munkdebates.com/debates/the-end-of-men  

@MacleansMag 19 Sep Canada rejects UN rights panel call for review of violence on aboriginal women http://ow.ly/p0U9S   #cdnpoli


UK Judge Rules Defendant Must Remove Niqab to Testify | Dressing Constitutionally for @robsonconlaw analysis & precis http://bit.ly/19ey8cY


New in print [NIP] : Choudhury on #Governance #Feminism & #Afghan #Women http://flip.it/fVHJ9

‏Sep Fascinating and splendid. @PaulbernalUK mix of law, levity & analysis: Disney princesses, on-line identity & privacy http://paulbernal.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/online-privacy-and-identity-and-disney-princesses/  

Not so Academic 

@rgay 13 Sep Today at The Rumpus, Lizzy Acker writes about abortion in one of the most compelling ways I’ve seen; http://therumpus.net/2013/09/love-love-love/  

RT @Longreads: “Portrait of a Ten-year-old #Girl.”  http://flip.it/fWP7O   cc: #statisticsbroughttolife

@balkissoon 19 Sep By me, in the Globe: stop bossing pregnant women around. Right now. http://m.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/a-few-drinks-while-pregnant-isnt-bad-but-the-new-maternal-puritanism-is/article14406909/?service=mobile  

Life and Law

#Lawstudents don’t disqualify yourselves! why not read: The #Habits Of Supremely #Happy People http://flip.it/1jgyr

“Busy” Is Not a Badge of Honor via @lifehacker: We need to work smarter, not harder http://flip.it/apQ6U