Canada: Tories and Liberals reject veil ban, Muslim Canadian Congress supports it

The Conservative government will not follow France’s lead to consider banning the burka. “In an open and democratic society like Canada, individuals are free to make their own decisions regarding their personal apparel and to adhere to their own customs or traditions of their faith and/or beliefs,” said a spokesperson for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. “We have no plans to introduce justice legislation in this matter.”

The Muslim Canadian Congress is calling on the feds to impose limits on the wearing of the full veil, suggesting “political correctness” is preventing politicians from tackling the sensitive subject. “It’s a control thing, identifying with Muslim brotherhood,” said senior VP Salma Siddiqui. “Basically it is a subservient tool.” Her group plans to lobby politicians from all parties in May.

Liberal MP Marlene Jennings said Canada’s charter rights protect religious freedom, and the Supreme Court has consistently ruled not to impose any limits. “Canadian women have the right, if they want, to wear a burka,” she said.

The controversy comes after France issued a report proposing a partial ban on the burka and niqab. The report called the wearing of full veil a “challenge” to the republic and a symbol of enslavement of women and extremist fundamentalism.

Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said Canada must send strong messages about equality of women but reject calls to follow France’s lead. “It goes without saying they should not be subjected to pressures from their communities, but neither from their government,” she said. “It’s not the place of the government to dictate how women should dress.”

Toronto Sun, 27 January 2010