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POULSEN: Will a niqab decide this election?

October 01, 2015 - 8:02 AM

Stephen Harper may start wearing a niqab so he can't be seen licking his lips over the monstrous misjudgement the other two parties have made on the issue.

Can something as insignificant as a woman wearing a niqab at the citizenship swearing-in turn the election? Why not.

The voters have been harassed by incomprehensible financial numbers. But wearing a mask? That strikes at our value judgements, the ones we hold inside rather than the ones that are out there in the unfathomable ether of all the numbers.

As often as not, it's fear, and some times rightfully so. Harper is selling fear of terrorism, only slightly veiled as a fear of the whole shebang of Islam. Donald Trump is selling fear of Mexicans, but that's another election.

Almost everyone relates to the niqab issue. A publicly-funded privy council office poll on the niqab found that only four per cent didn't know what they thought of it or didn't answer, an extraordinarily low "undecided."

The poll also showed that 82 per cent supported the requirement for a woman to show her face at the ceremony. The last time 82 per cent of Canadians agreed on something, the question might have been: Is Canada Day a good thing?

Justin and Mulcair are in favour of the niqab, thus hoisting themselves on their own petards, with bags over their heads as well.

Justin further ignored overwhelming popular sentiment during the Monday debate by insisting convicted terrorists serving life have a right to retain their Canadian citizenship.

If this was a real boxing match, it would appear the bookies have put the fix in and Justin is doing his best to take the dive, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, as they say.

To his credit, he's running strictly on his heart. That may be laudable but it hasn't worked since Gandhi.

Both the NDP and Liberals champion themselves as the defenders of a multi-cultural inclusiveness. However - and this is where the contradiction is punching them in the nose - they are also the champions of women's rights.

It must be terribly vexing for them considering that the niqab is a symbol of both religion and the subjugation of women.

The niqab is a veil for the face that leaves only the area around the eyes clear. The hijab is a head scarf. The burka is the most concealing, a one-piece veil that covers the face and body, often leaving just a mesh screen to see through.

A Libyan woman wearing a niqab.
A Libyan woman wearing a niqab.
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Works for mosquitoes too.

Don't guffaw. Ever noticed the Pope in one of his get-ups?

The injunction in the Koran is for modesty (for men and women), and that's about it. There is no mention in the Koran of a dress code.

The niqab is about a culture. I'll add that I think it's a pathetic culture, just so you don't get me wrong.

People have already passed the citizenship requirements before the ceremony. The ceremony is just a symbol, as is the niqab.

What's of real world importance is the niqab at the airport, on a driver's licence, before the police or in the courts.

Removal is required in all those instances, with a possible exception in court. There is no chance the Supreme Court would ever substantially change that.

Many Canadians won't ever see a woman wearing a niqab. Most of us have never been to a citizenship ceremony. The issue isn't a slippery slope toward anything because there isn't anything else.

The election may be decided by an issue that doesn't much matter.

— Chuck Poulsen can be contacted at poulsenc30@hotmail.com

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