08 October 2009

A tale of Two Islams

"The burka has absolutely no place in Canada," said Farzana Hassan, of the Muslim Canadian Congress. "In Canada we recognize the equality of men and women. We want to recognize gender equality as an absolute. The burka marginalizes women."

The proposal calls for the banning of "masks, niqabs and burkas." A niqab covers the face but allows the eyes to be seen; a burka covers the entire body and the eyes are obscured by a mesh covering.
The fact is, not everyone agrees...
Wahida Valiante, chairwoman of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said the right to wear a burka is absolutely covered by the Charter and no one can dictate what constitutes proper religious practice.

"Enforcement? I dunno, unless we go Ataturk on women who dress as shadows. Will the CHRC get involved? Probably."
Perhaps though, we should ask the man who is, arguably, Toronto's most famous, or infamous Muslim...
"People feel it's part of their identity, people feel it's part of their culture," Elmasry said. "It's not for you and me to decide."
Of course, Elmo also said...
"I don't want the public to think that this is really an Islamic issue or an immigrant issue," said Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress. "It is a teenager issue."
The thing is, perhaps the whole point will soon be moot anyway...
The data also showed that there were more Muslims in Germany than in Lebanon, and more in Russia than in Jordan and Libya together.

Senior researcher Brian Grim told CNN that the overall figure was a surprise and said: "Overall, the number is higher than I expected."


Philanthropist said...

It's a free country, sort of. If anyone wants to walk around in a bedsheet over their head, that's up to them, but that doesn't mean government or business has to accomodate that particular cultural fetish.

Neo Conservative said...

i think, phil... the point is, that this isn't a choice the women themselves get to make.

ask aqsa parvez.


Joe said...

My wife covers her head out of religious (Christian) conviction. I wouldn't want the state telling her otherwise. I saw what I believe was a woman wearing a bur qua. I don't know how she(?) decided to wear it but I would hate to live in a state that would ban such a choice.

Neo Conservative said...

joe... i'm curious. what christian religion are you referring to?

i don't believe i've ever heard of this... but i'm always willing to learn something new.


Anonymous said...

Barbara Hall was on Newsworld this afternoon defending the burqa. Maybe it's on their web site?

jwkozak91 said...

Neo asks: i'm curious. what christian religion are you referring to?

In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, women are supposed to cover their heads while in the sanctuary. Both sexes are expected to wear clothes that cover their elbows and knees.

It was very common in Greece, Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Eastern Europe before 1945 for married Orthodox women to wear a kerchief outside church as well - currently it's mostly those who are over 50 or widows who do so.

Neo Conservative said...

"jwkozak91 says... supposed to cover their heads while in the sanctuary"

so, in your example... we're not actually talking about a non-negotiable patriarchal dictate that is often punished by, say... male relatives killing any females who decide not to comply... right?


jwkozak91 said...

From 400 A.D. in Armenia, 500 A.D. in Georgia, 600-800 A.D. in the Balkans, and 988 A.D. in Ukraine/Russia/Belarus - until the Bolsheviks abolished the Orthodox Churches in the territories under their control in 1923, and later in their communist Eastern European empire in 1945 - there was strong social and clerical pressure on married Orthodox women to wear kerchiefs that covered their hair and ears - not their necks. Any punishment was likely to consist of either public shaming or a beating by their husbands - not an honour killing. Any instances of honour killing that I could possibly think of would be of teenaged girls who refused to marry men they were matched with.

The new Soviet government of the 1920s discouraged women from covering their hair because it was a "backwards religious-based tradition". Pious women were discouraged through arrest and "re-education". Moscow encouraged a new style of head covering in propaganda posters; covering the hair and forehead, not the ears -> more of a "do-rag" style.

The main differences that I see between the ceremonies of Orthodox Christianity and Islam is that the Orthodox have, as a main part of the service:

1.) images of saints and Mary and Jesus (ikons). (Islam forbids the drawing or image of any living or formerly living thing.)

2.) candles and incense burning. (Islam forbids drugs of all kinds.)

3.) most importantly - mixed-sex choirs. (Islam doesn't permit women singing at all.)