Being an imam of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Canada, as I hear the news about the “niqab ban” in one of our provinces, it truly saddens me. I have always felt that Canada is a role-model for the entire world, exemplifying values of tolerance and inclusiveness. Yet with this recent ban, however it may be worded, Muslim women that like to cover their faces out of modesty have directly been attacked.
Safety of our people has been stated as a reason for disallowing face-coverings. I applaud the effort for finding ways to protect our nation, but policies such as this one create divisiveness in the society. Instead of creating a peaceful environment, a wrong message is sent when one group is clearly targeted. It sends the message that every Muslim is thought of as a terrorist until proven otherwise, and for this reason their religious face-coverings are to be removed.
In cold-winters of Canada, especially in Quebec, many individuals cover their faces while waiting for a bus in public areas, or just walking through the streets. I am sure this will continue to happen despite this ruling, as it doesn’t disallow that, though whenever a Muslim man or woman would be covering their faces even for this very reason, it is likely that they would be targeted and reminded of this law in a painful manner by some passersby.
Even without such a ban in existence we have seen incidents in past couple years where Muslim women in their religious face-coverings have been attacked in public for no apparent reason. I feel this new ruling breeds grounds for further intolerance towards Muslim women.
Islam tells us there is no compulsion in matters of faith. Thus, men and women are free to live their lives as they desire. For this reason, some women cover their faces out of modesty and others do not. But for those that choose to do so, this new ruling clearly affects their religious freedom. While Canada is a champion in freedom of every sort, I feel this ruling is not very “Canadian.”
– Tariq Azeem, Missionary Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Delta