In May 2005, the province of Quebec showed leadership when its legislature voted unanimously to pass a motion against permitting shariah law to be used in the province’s legal system.
Moving the historic motion in the Quebec National Assembly, Muslim member Fatima Houda-Pepin said, “The application of shariah in Canada is part of a strategy to isolate the Muslim community, so it will submit to an archaic vision of Islam … These demands are being pushed by groups in the minority that are using the Charter of Rights to attack the foundation of our democratic institutions.” Four months later, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty would ban the use of all religion-based tribunals in the province, thus ending all hopes Islamists had of creating a beachhead for shariah law in North America.
Now, Quebec has taken another bold and courageous step to stall the inroads being made by Islamists in Quebec society: In a bill that could soon become law, Quebec will refuse all government services, including education and non-emergency health care, to Muslim women wearing face masks (known as the niqab or burka). Jean Charest, the Liberal Premier, said the bill is aimed at “drawing a line” to demonstrate that gender equality is a paramount Quebec value.
As a Muslim Canadian, I am thrilled at this development, and welcome the rescue of all Muslim-Canadian women who were being blackmailed, bullied and brainwashed into wearing attire that has no place in either Islam or the 21st century.
Muslim women — my wife, mother, sisters, daughters and friends — were deeply angered that cowardly Islamists were using their faces and heads as the flag of Islamism. Their faces were never the property of hateful, joyless men who wish to consign women into dark, mobile prisons. If faces of Muslim women are a source of sexual tension to these men, it is these men who must shut their eyes and lock themselves in permanent prisons.
The burka is not just a piece of clothing: It is a symbol of Islamofascism and a rejection of the West and its cherished value of gender equality. The cruel reality is that the burka implicitly castigates women as a source of evil ( a’wra), condemning them to a life of isolation away from the gaze of men.
Beyond that, it is important to understand the more practical reasons as to why Quebec is right in listening to the call of liberal and progressive Muslims who asked for a ban on the burka:
– Security: As news from around the world shows, thieves and terrorists are using burka disguises to evade checkpoints, hide explosives and commit crimes.
– Safety: Anyone who has tried on a burka knows that it provides minimal peripheral vision. Walking is hard enough. Would you want to be on the highway with drivers whose perspective is constrained by such a human tent?
– Health: Doctors have provided evidence that vitamin D deficiency, which is associated with serious health problems, can result when a face-covering blocks all incoming sunlight.
To the Islamists and their apologists who argue that Canada’s position on the niqab should be based on Canadian values of equal citizenship, rather than assimilative French values, I simply say: Canadian values are themselves based on French and British values. They did not fall from the sky. Furthermore, if importing ideas from France is so suspect, then smuggling the values of tribal monarchies and theocracies into Canada is far worse. We would rather embrace France’s equality than the institutionalized misogyny and polygamy of Iran and Saudi Arabia.
– Tarek Fatah is the author of The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism, which will be published by McClelland & Stewart in October 2010.
In what is likely the first of its kind in Canada, a Toronto mosque is offering a “detox” program for young Islamic radicals who are sympathetic to the terrorist group al Qaeda.
Muhammed Robert Heft, a team member of the Specialized De-radicalization Intervention program, says the program is based on the idea that Islamic extremism can be fought by incorporating traditional teachings of the Qur’an into a “12-step Extremist Detox Program.”
Among the steps in the program offered at Toronto’s Masjid El Noor mosque:
- Finding common ground, “not fighting ground,” with other faiths
- In the “Open society of Canada,” how to reconcile “dogmatic idealism with pragmatic realism”
- Seeing the whole as one, and take into account “global challenges that affect us all.”
- Actively countering extremist ideology through “education, public speaking and writing.”
“As Canadians of Muslim faith, it is our ardent desire to become leaders in the championing of anti-terror values,” says a document explaining the program.
Heft told CTV Newsnet’s Power Play on Wednesday that among the young radical Islamic followers the mosque is hoping to counsel are members of the notorious “Toronto 18.” In 2006, a series of counter-terrorism raids in the Greater Toronto Area resulted in the arrest of 18 alleged members of a purported Islamic terrorist cell plotting a variety of attacks against targets in Ontario.
That case, along with that of Ottawa’s Momin Khawaja who was convicted for his role in a British terror cell, have raised concerns about home-grown terrorism.
Heft said there are many sects in Islam, and that “99.9” per cent of Islamic leaders across the country agree they must work together to combat extremism.
But he did admit there are a “small number of firebrand preachers” who try to persuade young Muslims to jump onto the extremist bandwagon.
“Unfortunately, a few emotional, Internet-surfing, like-minded individuals who do what I call ‘Do-It-Yourself Islam,’ find themselves getting caught up in emotion and justify getting caught up in the hate that’s inside them,” Heft told Power Play host Tom Clark.
“They end up falling prey to people with deviant views of the religion.”
But he says if one studies the tradition of Islam, going back to the orthodox scholars, “you realize these are the teachings of Islam.”
And by incorporating these teachings into the mosque’s program, Heft claims he’s had success converting those who formerly held radical, anti-Semitic views into “productive members of society.”
He says the program has also helped disenfranchised Muslims get jobs, and to get off welfare.
“We’re winning,” said Heft.
Â Nice to see some courts tearing apart religions for forcing their trash on others. Fuck Sharia Law.
France has denied citizenship to a Moroccan woman who wears a burqa on the grounds that her “radical” practice of Islam is incompatible with basic French values such as equality of the sexes.
The case yesterday reopened the debate about Islam in France, and how the secular republic reconciles itself with the freedom of religion guaranteed by the French constitution.
The woman, known as Faiza M, is 32, married to a French national and lives east of Paris. She has lived in France since 2000, speaks good French and has three children born in France. Social services reports said she lived in “total submission” to her husband. Her application for French nationality was rejected in 2005 on the grounds of “insufficient assimilation” into France. She appealed, invoking the French constitutional right to religious freedom and saying that she had never sought to challenge the fundamental values of France. But last month the Council of State, France’s highest administrative body, upheld the ruling.
“She has adopted a radical practice of her religion, incompatible with essential values of the French community, particularly the principle of equality of the sexes,” it said.
“Is the burqa incompatible with French citizenship?” asked Le Monde, which broke the story. The paper said it was the first time the level of a person’s personal religious practice had been used to rule on their capacity be to assimilated into France.
The legal expert who reported to the Council of State said the woman’s interviews with social services revealed that “she lives almost as a recluse, isolated from French society”.
The report said: “She has no idea about the secular state or the right to vote. She lives in total submission to her male relatives. She seems to find this normal and the idea of challenging it has never crossed her mind.”
The woman had said she was not veiled when she lived in Morocco and had worn the burqa since arriving in France at the request of her husband. She said she wore it more from habit than conviction.