Friday, 9 April 2010

Religious Liberty and 9/11

A recent (April 07, 2010) article carried by the National Post argued that the wearing of the niqab by some Muslim women should be banned in Quebec with the support of Canadian laws. The article went on to say "Quebec has drawn a line in the sand on the issue of how far it's willing to go in accommodating religious expression, and most of Canada, it seems, concurs .Word that three out of four Canadians agree with the recently tabled Bill 94 (proposing a law that would refuse government services to women wearing the niqab or burka) reflects a deeper distaste for what many view as a symbol of Islamic fundamentalism and female subjugation." Some members of the Islamic community immediately expressed concerns stating that barring women who wear the niqab from receiving government services or an education will chase them out of universities and the workplace, and into the shadows. While the president of the Muslim Council of Montreal added "It will isolate them more and more and bring a disastrous result, and that Bill 94 "seems to be specifically tailored for Muslims." Quebec already requires women to uncover their faces when applying for driver's licences and Medicare cards, or voting.

During the same week concerns about the wearing of ceremonial daggers by members of the Sikh community were re-ignited after the Toronto Star reported (Apr 6, 2010) "Brampton lawyer Manjit Mangat was stabbed April 2, 2010 with a kirpan, igniting fears of fresh controversy over Sikhs' right to wear the ceremonial dagger. Mangat, who wears a kirpan himself, says the attack is an example of someone who misuses the religious symbol."

Meanwhile CBC News reported today (April 9, 2010) that the Toronto police service has started an internal review on how officers conduct searches and arrests when dealing with people from various religions, CBC News has learned. The review was sparked by a human rights complaint in July 2008 after a police officer removed a Muslim woman's hijab, or head scarf. The review includes how religious items such as prayer beads, hijabs and the Koran are handled in searches, and how officers conduct searches when the people involved are members of such religions as Islam, Sikhism and Buddhism.

Prior to 9/11 it is doubtful that the wearing of a niqab or burka, the wearing of ceremonial daggers, would have been a problem. It may even have been considered intriguing enough to have become a new fashion item. However, with the continued threats and acts of violence throughout the world by various extremist (male/female); it has been necessary to implement more effective counter security measures. These measures now demand ever increasing levels of personal sacrifice particularly for those who cross the border or board an airplane. Religious liberty is held in a great esteem in Canada and most Western nations. However, when these liberties interfere with the safety of the people then further sacrifices may also be necessary. As long as random acts of physical violence continue as a means of forcing political ideals we will all have to adapt to new ways of living our faith.

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