Religious Symbol & Face-Covering Bans in Other Countries

Quebec Bill 21 is only one of many such laws

2021-12-26, Updated 2021-12-27

What opponents of Bill 21 never talk about: the many laws in other countries which stipulate similar bans, but often stronger, more extensive ones.

Sommaire en français Ce dont les opposants à la Loi 21 ne parlent jamais : les nombreuses lois dans d’autres pays qui prévoient des interdictions similaires, mais souvent plus fortes, plus étendues. La compilation des données est disponible en français : Lois restreignant les couvre-visage et les signes religieux

Many other countries have laws similar to Bill 21, but often stronger. For example:

  • Religious symbols are banned for public servants in France, in Geneva and in two “Länder” of Germany. In particular, the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland bans religious symbols throughout the civil service, but with the proviso that it applies when the employee is in contact with the public.
  • Religious symbols are banned in public schools in France, parts of Belgium and in Pennsylvania.
  • Face-coverings are banned in public in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chad, Denmark, Egypt, France, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, etc. Morocco also bans the manufacture and sale of the burqa.
  • Face-coverings are banned in public services (employees and users, as in Quebec) in Italy [Lombardy], Malaysia, Netherlands and Tunisia.
  • Face-coverings are banned for public servants in Algeria and Germany.

When it comes to restrictions on religious symbols and/or face-coverings, there are two extreme positions:

  1. Ban them everywhere. I have only known one person who held such a draconian view.
  2. Ban them nowhere. This extremist position is apparently held by most opponents of Quebec Bill 21 (because they rarely specify any alternative, just a complete repeal).

A reasonable position is somewhere in between these two extremes: i.e. ban religious symbols (for secular reasons) and face-coverings (for reasons of security, identification, communication and women’s rights) in contexts where a ban will not unduely encroach upon some people’s freedoms while it protects others’ freedoms. That is precisely what Bill 21 does, although it is a little too weak and needs to be extended to the entire civil service.

Secularists choose a position somewhere midway between the two extremes, not because it is midway (that would be just the Fallacy of the Mean) but because in this situation it maximizes human rights, whereas the two extremes threaten such rights. Banning religious symbols worn by civil servants while on the job extends everyone’s freedom from religion, while putting only a small, well-circumscribed restriction on freedom of religious expression (i.e. religious practice) for State employees. Such a ban puts no restriction whatsoever on freedom of religious belief. In other words, it treats religious expression similar to how political expression is treated: with some restriction in the workplace.

The extremist position (2) holds that any ban is an encroachment on personal freedoms. This is libertarianism on steroids and is unacceptable because it gives absolute freedom to the wearer while completely neglecting the rights of others.

By adopting Bill 21 in June of 2019, Quebec joined the many countries listed above. In reaction, the arrogance and ignorance of Canadian anti-secularists have been infinite. Will they now claim that all those countries are populated or controlled by Christian supremacists with nefarious motives?

The page Laws Restricting Face-Coverings and Religious Symbols provides a compilation with full details. I update it periodically. Please let me know if you find any errors or omissions. (Links to relevant on-line articles are helpful. Links to actual legislation are even better.)

Next blog: Repeal Citizenship Regulation 17.1.b

The Swiss Face-Covering Ban is About Deterring Religious Fanaticism

Accusations of racism are dishonest and slanderous.


Face-Coverings in general impede identification, communication and security. Islamic full veils are even worse, expressing extreme misogyny and religious fanaticism. The newly approved Swiss ban on face-coverings in public is a progressive step to deter such fanaticism.

Sommaire en français Les couvre-visage en général empêchent l’identification, la communication et la sécurité. Les voiles intégraux islamiques sont encore pires, exprimant une misogynie extrême et un fanatisme religieux. L’interdiction suisse nouvellement approuvée de se couvrir le visage en public est une mesure progressiste pour freiner ce fanatisme.

Recently, Swiss voters approved, by referendum, a ban on face-coverings in public, including (but not limited to) the Islamic full veil. To the surprise of no-one at all, this event was met with the boisterous whining of those who systematically oppose restrictions on religious practice, as if freedom of religion should be absolute (especially if that religion is Islam), regularly trumping the rights and freedoms of others.

The Swiss referendum result is good news, although the narrow majority by which the ban passed is disconcerting. Face-coverings cause problems for identification, communication and security. However, Islamic (or should I say Islamist) face-coverings, i.e. full veils such as the niqab and burqa, are particularly egregious and problematic. They are an expression of the most extreme misogyny of fundamentalist, radical, political Islam. They should not be tolerated.


The argument that few women currently wear the niqab or burqa in Switzerland is irrelevant. If Switzerland passed a law against slavery, who would complain that it is unnecessary because there are currently no slaves in that country? And yes, I am saying that the Islamic full veil is on a par with slavery. Both are barbaric practices.

The face-covering ban is a preventative measure. If nothing is done, the number of veiled women will continue to increase in future years. Islamists will continue to claim territory by promoting the veil (both hijab and full veil) anywhere and everywhere, asserting that any Muslim woman who does not wear it will go to hell. The veil is a choice, you say? Sure, a choice between wearing one and going to heaven or not wearing one and going to hell. Islamists use the veil in the same way that dogs use their urine: to mark their territory.

Secular Muslims

One of the leaders of the Swiss campaign to ban face-coverings is Mohamed Hamdaoui, a secular Muslim. Apologists for fundamentalist Islam almost never talk about secular Muslims or ex-Muslims. They only talk about pious Muslims who promote the veil, presenting them as victims of persecution, but who are, in reality, religious fanatics. As for women who wear the veil in non-Muslim countries, some are religious fanatics too, but some are forced by pressure from family or community. Face-coverings, including the full Islamic veil, are banned in numerous countries of Europe and Africa, including several Muslim-majority countries.

The assertion that the ban “tells women what to wear” is dishonest. The ban, where it applies to the niqab and burqa, bans a symbol of Islamism which is arguably the most extreme-right-wing movement on the planet. The ban tells no-one “what to wear.” It bans the most atrocious symbol of Islamism in order to prevent its use for politico-religious proselytizing.

The organization Amnesty International has shown itself to be especially unprincipled and cowardly by opposing the Swiss ban, just as it has taken a cowardly position against Quebec Bill 21 (which by the way, does not ban the full veil in public, but only in civil services).

Islamist Propaganda

One particularly dishonest ploy frequently used by opponents of bans on religious symbols is the false equivalence between racial identity and religious affiliation. They claim that such bans are “racist.” This is a blatant lie. Restrictions on religious practices such as the Islamic full veil have nothing to do with race. A Muslim (or an Islamist for that matter) can be Arab, black, white, Indonesian, French, American, Apache or any other “race,” ethnic group or nationality. To conflate “race” with religion is standard Islamist propaganda.

The ban on the full veil is largely motivated by fear of Islamism, and that fear is legitimate. I repeat: it is reasonable to fear Islamism, especially in Europe (although even moreso in Muslim-majority countries). Invoking “racism” in opposition to the ban is also based on fear—fear of racism—and that fear is irrational because Islam is not a race.

Although Islamists do sometimes engage in spectacular physical violence such as terrorism, they do so only occasionally, because it is easier and much less costly to use disinformation. They do not even have to spread such disinformation themselves. They can rely on unscrupulous fools to spread it for them, fools like those who make accusations of “racism.”

It’s about religion, stupid.

It’s about religion, not race. Even if all Muslims in Switzerland were black or brown and all non-Muslims white, that does not change the fact that the issue here is fundamentalist religion and everyone knows that. The dishonest conflation of race with religion greatly confuses the issue and slanders those who support reasonable measures such as this face-covering ban. To those who oppose the ban, I suggest they try to come up with rational arguments for their position, if they have any, rather than indulging in slander.

Anyone who conflates race with religion is incompetent to deal with either. Anyone who conflates them deliberately is lying in order to promote a political agenda.

The wearing of the full veil such as the niqab and burqa is an extremely retrograde practice, an implementation of the subjugation of women. Banning full face-coverings in public is one small and reasonable step that can help to put a break on the advance of radical Islam in Europe. Banning the wearing of all religious symbols for civil servants and schoolteachers while on the job (but not everywhere in public) is also a good measure.

Balancing Conflicting Freedoms

Restrictions on religious symbols do not interfere with freedom of belief but only with freedom of religious practice, because that practice, when done in public, can and does sometimes compromise the freedom of conscience of others. Freedoms are not absolute. The challenge is to find an equilibrium between freedom of religion and freedom from religion, an equilibrium between the freedoms of some and the freedoms of others.

Suggested reading:

Next blog: The “White Supremacism” Scam

Summary: The Islamist Veil


A summary of my analysis of the implications of the Islamist veil.

Sommaire en français Un résumé de mon analyse des implications du voile islamiste.

For future reference, I have decided to summarize here an analysis of the Islamist veil and its implications. I could call it the “Islamic veil” instead, but the word “Islamic” applies to Islam in general. However the veil is much more closely associated with the fundamentalist and radical variant of Islam known as Islamism or political Islam, and it is for that reason that I refer to it as “Islamist.” That veil is, after all, a political symbol even more than a religious one. It comes in several versions of course: hijab, chador, burkini, niqab, burqa, etc. This blog summarizes and builds on my previous blog Notes on the Islamist Veil.

Some essential points:

  • The Islamist veil, in all its forms, is an advertisement for political Islam, regardless of the mentality of the woman wearing it.
  • The Islamist veil is imposed by fanatics. It is not an article of clothing for Muslim women in general—but Islamists would like us to think that it is!
  • Most women who wear the Islamist veil, especially in Muslim-majority countries, do so because they are in some sense forced to do so, as they are under severe pressure from family, community, fundamentalists and sometimes the law. The consequences of not wearing it can be life-threatening.
  • Those women who decide to wear the Islamist veil willingly, mainly in non-Muslim countries, are implicitly expressing solidarity with political Islam, whether or not they are conscious of the implications of their decision. Such women are objectively allied with religious fanaticism.
  • The Islamist veil is a marker of segregation, keeping Muslims separate from other “inferior” people. It also sends the message that religious affiliation (for Muslims) is more important than other attributes.
  • The Islamist veil is a purity symbol, a form of slut-shaming. Wearing it means that other women who do not wear it, especially Muslim women who do not wear it, are impure, i.e. “easy.”
  • The Islamist veil is an expression of rape culture. It implies that women are responsible for the sexual excesses of heterosexual men.
  • The Islamist veil is not just an article of clothing. To treat is as such is to empower the religious fanatics who use it for proselytism and propaganda.
  • The Islamist veil is a tool to control women’s bodies.
  • Proponents of political Islam use veiled women in the same way that dogs use their urine: to mark their territory.

In summary, Islamists treat women in general with contempt and they use veiled women in particular as tools for their political purposes. Recall that Islam is arguably the most misogynistic of all major religions, and that political Islam is a fundamentalist variant which takes that misogyny to an extreme.

Finally, it must be emphasized that all of the above observations about the Islamist veil apply regardless of the mentality of the woman flaunting it. The objective meaning of the veil does not depend on the thoughts of the bearer. She may be naïve, she may be totally unaware of the implications of the accoutrement she has “chosen” to display or been forced to display or, on the other hand, she may be fully cognizant that she is effectively supporting political Islam. In all cases, she is just one more veiled woman, one more walking advertisement for one of the most dangerous extreme right-wing movements on our planet.

Thus, the wearing of the Islamist veil should be discouraged and it should be banned where appropriate to do so. There are three main contexts (this list may not be exhaustive) where banning is appropriate:

  1. Wearing religious symbols—including all versions of the Islamist veil—by public servants, i.e. State employees, while on the job, should be banned.
  2. Imposing any Islamist veil on a child for any extended period of time (weeks, months, years) is a form of child abuse and should be illegal.
  3. Versions of the veil which obscure the face, i.e. the niqab and burqa, should, like all face-coverings, be banned in any situation where covering the face compromises security, identification or communication. This includes at least situations where security checks are performed, such as in airports or at entrances to some public buildings. However, there are further reasons why the niqab and burqa should be resisted, as these veils represent a violation of human dignity and women’s rights. Extending the ban to everywhere in public is an option to be considered.

In other situations, the wearing of the Islamist veil should be tolerated for reasons of personal freedom, but it should be neither endorsed nor encouraged—and certainly not celebrated as some governments (such as Canada) foolishly do.

Next blog: This Does NOT Promote Child Health

Ensaf Haidar Challenges Canadian Orthodoxy

Raif Badawi’s wife refuses to kowtow to the “diversity” ideologues


I congratulate Ensaf Haidar for her call to ban face-coverings in public services and for her support for Maxime Bernier’s criticism of Trudeau-ite multiculturalism.

Sommaire en français Je félicite Ensaf Haidar pour son appel à interdire les couvre-visage dans les services publics et pour son appui à Maxime Bernier qui critique le multiculturalisme à la Trudeau.

As most people are already aware, Ensaf Haidar is the wife of Raif Badawi, a Saudi writer, dissident and activist who has been imprisoned since 2012 in Saudi Arabia. His only “crime” was to call for a liberalisation of the Saudi regime.

Ensaf Haidar now lives with her children in Quebec and all received Canadian citizenship on July 1st 2018. Haidar has worked tirelessly for her husband’s release and for human rights in general, and has received several awards for her efforts. Two recent examples are the 2017 Goldene Victoria, awarded by the Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger (Association of German Magazine Publishers), and the 2018 Henry Zumach Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

2018 Henry Zumach Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion Award
Ensaf Haidar: 2018 Recipient Henry Zumach Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion Award

Just as her husband defied Saudi orthodoxy by calling for freedom of expression, Ensaf Haidar challenges Canadian orthodoxy […]

Just as her husband defied Saudi orthodoxy by calling for freedom of expression, Ensaf Haidar challenges Canadian orthodoxy by exercising her freedom of expression in defiance of the conventional ideology monolithically imposed by most Canadian mainstream media and politicians, especially the federal government of Justin Trudeau. On her Twitter account @miss9afi, she has repeatedly urged the new Premier of Ontario to follow Quebec’s lead and ban the niqab in Ontario schools, public transportation and government services.

2018-09-16, Tweet, Ensaf Haidar
“I urge Ontario PM to follow Quebec’s and outlaw the Niqab
from schools, public transportation & all govt services”

Unfortunately the comparison with Quebec no longer applies, because article 10 of Quebec’s Bill 62, which banned face-coverings in public services, has been suspended by the courts and the Quebec government has failed to make any effort to fight back against the suspension.

Furthermore, Ensaf Haidar has expressed her support for Maxime Bernier’s criticism of Trudeau’s dubious cult of “diversity,” despite the fact that Bernier has been the target of an enormous degree of contempt and demonisation from the media for a position which is, in reality, eminently reasonable. Tarek Fatah writes about this in his article of September 18th, Why Raif Badawi’s wife supports Maxime Bernier in the Toronto Sun. Haidar expressed her shock at the negative reaction to Bernier and his new political party (People’s Party of Canada or PPC) in a tweet on September 18th.

2018-09-20, Tweet, Ensaf Haidar
“I am shocked at the reaction to my support of the #PPC and @MaximeBernier,
I will listen to myself and look for the new change”

Trudeau’s “diversity” is simply […] a buzzword which he uses to set the stage for spurious accusations of racism or xenophobia against anyone who criticizes his pandering to religious minorities.

I do not support Bernier’s new party—its economic policies are those of the libertarian right—but I agree with his and Haidar’s criticism of Trudeau’s obsession with what Bernier calls “extreme multiculturalism.” Indeed, Trudeau’s multiculturalism is cultural relativism, leading to complacency and inaction in the face of religious fanaticism. Trudeau’s “diversity” is simply code expressing his extreme intolerance of any disagreement with his ideology, a buzzword which he uses to set the stage for spurious accusations of racism or xenophobia against anyone who criticizes his pandering to religious minorities.

I congratulate Ensaf Haidar for her principled support for Bernier’s criticisms and for her opposition to the Trudeau-ite obsession of allowing religious face-coverings anywhere and everywhere.

More Relevant Links

Next blog: The Quebec Election of October 1st 2018

Banning Face-Coverings is Both Necessary and Beneficial

A Response to Stephen Evans of the NSS


My response to an article in the Huffington Post UK in which Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of the National Secular Society, opposes the face-covering ban recently adopted by Denmark.

Sommaire en français Ma réponse à un texte, publié dans le Huffington Post UK, dans lequel Stephen Evans, de la National Secular Society s’oppose à l’interdiction des couvre-visage récemment adoptée par le Danemark.

In an article published in the Huffington Post UK, Stephen Evans discusses the recent decision by the Danish government to ban face-coverings in public and asks the question “Do Burqa Bans Do More Harm Than Good?” He immediately answers it in the affirmative and then goes on to attempt to defend that conclusion.

First, the good news: Mr. Evans recognizes that accusations of racism directed against those who express concern over the growing influence of Islam are unacceptable. He also recognizes that “The right to manifest your beliefs isn’t absolute” because it is limited by the rights of others. Finally, he promotes “moving away from the laissez-faire approach of multiculturalism which has served to empower patriarchal community leaders; foster segregation; erode equality and freedom of speech; and undermine the principle of one law for all.” Excellent!

Now the bad news: Mr. Evans proceeds to take a position practically indistinguishable from that of radical multiculturalists and repeats several of their specious pseudo-arguments, while failing to recognize how wearing the Islamic veil, especially the full veil, compromises the rights of others in some contexts.

For example, he opines that “Surely such bans risk further alienating women already on the margins of mainstream society?” No, on the contrary, for those women who are pressured into wearing the veil by family or their religious community, such bans are liberating, giving them an excellent means of resisting that pressure. A failure to ban means abandoning them to their fate. As for those who choose to wear the veil, especially the full veil, completely of their own volition, such women have chosen to align themselves with the proselytizing religious fanatics who campaign to make the veil ubiquitous. That campaign must be resisted, not accommodated.

To say that bans on face-coverings discriminate against Muslim women is like saying that speed limits discriminate against those who drive fast cars, or that gun control legislation discriminates against those who use unregistered firearms. For one thing, Muslim women in general do not willingly adopt such accoutrements, but only the most fanatical and fundamentalist ones. Furthermore, speeders, unregistered gun users and niqab-wearers (i.e. who choose to wear it) are self-selecting; their behaviour makes them inevitable targets for legislation necessary to protect the public.

Worse, Mr. Evans even advances the preposterous symmetry argument, alleging that bans are somehow equivalent to imposing the veil, and asking “Should the state be playing that game, too?” Please, this is not a game. The situation is deadly serious. The false symmetry between imposing and banning is a cruel insult to all those women, in countries dominated by Muslim laws and mores, who have been harassed, detained, imprisoned, had acid thrown in their faces, or worse because they dared to defy the degrading obligation to wear the veil. There is simply no comparison with veil bans in countries such as France or Denmark.

I salute the courage and decisiveness of the Danish government. Their ban applies to all public places, a strong measure indeed. I personally would prefer a somewhat lesser measure, i.e. a ban on face-coverings in public services, applying to both public servants on duty and to users of those services. However the Danish solution is infinitely preferable to the complacency promoted by its critics.

The Danish law does not address the important issue of religious symbols other than face-coverings; e.g. Christian crucifixes, Islamic hijabs, Sikh turbans, etc. They should be banned for public servants on duty in order to protect the freedom of conscience of the general public. For example, allowing a police officer to wear a hijab or a visible crucifix while on duty is completely unacceptable, a gross violation of secularism and of the freedom of conscience of the public which has a right to a police service presenting a neutral image. Freedom of religion does not include the privilege of displaying partisan politico-religious advertising while one is on the job, working as a public employee.

Finally, at the end of his article, Mr. Evans finally admits, rather grudgingly it would appear, that there will “be some circumstances where a wearer should be expected to show their face.” He mentions security, identification and communication issues as possible justifications. These three criteria are certainly valid reasons to require showing the face, but they are not the most significant reasons why the Islamic full veil must be resisted. The issues of human dignity and women’s rights are more important.

The niqab and burqa are first and foremost propaganda tools, flags of an international extreme right-wing politico-religious movement which uses the veil as one major tool to spread its influence anywhere and everywhere it can. Islamists use veiled women just as dogs use their urine, to mark their territory. The niqab and burqa are also emblems, both practical and theoretical, of the degradation and enslavement of women; they constitute what are arguably the most egregious symbols of misogyny known to humanity. They are symbols of rape culture – holding women responsible for men’s libido. They express unequivocably that the wearer is chattel belonging to her husband, father or other male relative, and they similarly express the idea that any woman who does not wear the veil is basically a slut whose failure to cover herself means that she is available and easy.

Here in Quebec, the provincial government recently passed a law, the infamous Bill 62, which does almost exactly what Mr. Evans suggests, banning face-coverings in public services but allowing major exceptions. In practice, Bill 62’s ban only applies if one or more of those three criteria – security, identification and communication – can be shown to apply. All secularists here in Quebec, including the organization Atheist Freethinkers (LPA-AFT) which I represent, opposed the Bill because of this weakness, because it fails to recognize the key issues of human dignity and women’s rights, and because it does not even address the question of other religious symbols worn by public servants.

And yet, although totally inadequate, even Bill 62 met with ferocious opposition from Islamists and their radical multiculturalist allies, who claimed that it violated the rights of Muslim women, using specious arguments very similar to those put forward by Mr. Evans. The Bill was even challenged in court by the National Council for Canadian Muslims, shamefully supported by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who succeeded in having the ban suspended.

If we want to address the very real dangers which political Islam represents, we will need far more than the weak legislation proposed by Quebec and the irresponsible complacency shown by Mr. Evans and many others. Individuals and organisations who consider themselves secularist must stop pandering to fundamentalism. They must support a ban on all visible religious symbols worn by public servants while on duty. They must also support banning face-coverings in public services as well, including users too, not just employees. Then, and only then, will they have the credibility to criticize Denmark’s ban on face-coverings everywhere in public.

Next blog: The Identitarian Left

Toronto Life Magazine Lionizes Islamist Agent


My comments about a recent article in the magazine Toronto Life lionizing Zunera Ishaq who became famous for winning the legal “right” to wear her niqab at her Canadian citizenship ceremony.

Sommaire en français Ma réponse à un texte, paru récemment dans la revue Toronto Life, dans lequel Zunera Ishaq, célèbre pour avoir gagné le « droit » de porter son niqab lors de sa cérémonie de citoyenneté canadienne, est encensée.

Lauren McKeon’s Toronto Life article “Zunera’s War” is typical of the air-headed attitude towards religious fanaticism, especially the Islamist variety, which is currently in fashion, especially since the election of that poster boy for complacency, Justin Trudeau.

McKeon focuses greatly on the personal details of Zunera Ishaq’s life in order to lionize her. This strategy is superficially effective, but it is ultimately facile. Heart-warming anecdotes and cute details of day-to-day life could be used to make anyone, even supporters of the most egregiously backward socio-political movements, look sympathetic.

McKeon completely ignores the most salient facet of Ishaq’s case: that Ishaq is a legal jihadist, that is, she uses legal means to promote an Islamist agenda. Of course this is far less dangerous than violent jihadism. We are lucky that Ishaq uses lawyers, not guns or bombs, to further her ends. But she remains dangerous nevertheless because her ends, her goals, are to trivialize symbols—such as the niqab—of an extremely retrograde ideology, to make such accoutrements commonplace and “normal” in Canadian society, so that ultimately the ideas which underlie such symbols become mainstream and acceptable.

Islamism, the ideology which Ishaq promotes—at least implicitly—via her personal legal jihad, is far to the political right of fundamentalist Christian supporters of the Conservative Party, […]

Political theorists may debate whether or not Islamism—i.e. political Islam—corresponds to a coherent definition of “fascism.” However, whatever conclusion they may reach, one thing is certain: Islamism, the ideology which Ishaq promotes—at least implicitly—via her personal legal jihad, is far to the political right of fundamentalist Christian supporters of the Conservative Party, far to the right of Donald Trump, far to the right of the Front National (FN) in France or Pegida in Germany, far to the right of Mussolini or Pinochet or just about any other disgusting dictator one can name. Recently FN leader Marine Le Pen visited Quebec and was generally shunned and treated as a pariah. But Ishaq, whose ideology is far worse than Le Pen’s, is celebrated by fools too cowardly to acknowledge the reprehensible nature of her activism.

McKeon’s article makes a big deal of the idea that Ishaq is not some blushing wallflower, i.e. she is not a female victim being manipulated by controlling males off-stage. If this is true, then that simply deepens her guilt, and the foolishness of people like Trudeau, Mulcair and McKeon who enable her jihad. If she is acting on her own initiative and fully mindful of the consequences of her actions, then she is not just objectively reactionary, indeed she is consciously and deliberately a reactionary political activist, an active agent of extreme right-wing misogyny.

Ironically, McKeon does mention, but only in passing, the main legal issue which needs to be tackled to return Canada to sanity by not allowing religious fanatics to impose their nonsense during official ceremonies. She writes: “If religious freedom was such a tenet of Canadian society, she thought, then why couldn’t she practise her religion as she was becoming a citizen?” The problem, as anyone who has read attentively the Citizenship Act, the Preamble to the constitution or the Criminal Code (in particular the “Blasphemous Libel” section and the religious exception in the “Hate Propaganda” sections) can tell you, is that Canadian law gives undue priority to freedom of religion to the detriment of other freedoms. Indeed, freedom of religion should not be considered a fundamental freedom. Rather it is freedom of conscience which is fundamental, and it subsumes both freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion. The latter is compromised if we give precedence to the former.

As for Ishaq, she should be told in no uncertain terms that she may wear her silly niqab in her private life. But if she wishes to participate in public affairs—such as a citizenship ceremony—then she needs to act like a human being and show her face.

Next blog: Freedom of Religion is Not Fundamental

Trudeau & Mulcair Can Easily Resolve the Niqab Issue


This blog is very brief, a short text which I posted earlier today on Facebook.

Sommaire en français J. Trudeau et T. Mulcair pourraient très facilement résoudre la controverse autour du niqab et poser un beau geste non partisan, un geste pour la laïcité contre la division, si chacun annonçait que, une fois élu, il présenterait promptement un projet de loi interdisant de se couvrir le visage durant les cérémonies officielles. Qu’attendent-ils ?

The Trudeau Liberals and the Mulcair NDP could resolve the niqab kerfuffle in a heartbeat, if they had the simple will to do so. All they have to do is announce that, if elected, they will promptly introduce new legislation to ban face-coverings in official ceremonies. This would immediately have the following effects:

  • Reassure the population that federal politicians are taking some action to stop the encroachment of Islamist extremism in Canada, thus greatly reducing the danger of any anti-Muslim sentiment.
  • Destroy any attempt by the Harper Conservatives to exploit the niqab issue for partisan electoral ends.
  • Take many votes away from the Conservatives, i.e. the votes the Conservatives gained because of this one issue, given that the majority of Canadians favour a ban on face-coverings, thus increasing the chances of Harper being defeated.
  • Show that all three major federal parties can act in a non-partisan manner for the greater good.
  • AND THEY WOULD BE DOING THE RIGHT THING, by taking a principled stand for secularism and against religious fanaticism and religious privilege.

So what are Trudeau and Mulcair waiting for?

Next blog: How to Reassure a Concerned Citizenry … and how NOT to

Thoughts on the Niqab

2015-10-13 @ 13:00

A collection of observations about the current controversy surrounding the niqab, which recently received legal recognition in two Canadian federal court decisions. Wearing the niqab while taking the citizenship oath is now a “right.”

Sommaire en français

  • Parler du niqab comme un vêtement “musulman” comme font constamment les médias anglophones Canadiens, c’est déplacer le centre de la diversité des musulmans vers l’extrémisme. C’est une insulte faite aux musulmans plus modérés.
  • Il y plusieurs raisons (chacune étant suffisante) d’interdire le niqab dans les cérémonies officielles : (1) Le niqab entrave la communication. (2) Il symbolise l’asservisement de la femme. (3) Il compromet la liberté de conscience des autres participants de la cérémonie. (4) Il est une forme de militantisme politique fasciste, totalement déplacé dans le contexte. (5) Il nuit à l’identification de la personne et à la sécurité de tous.
  • Le seul argument pour permettre le port du niqab dans les cérémonies est l’ensemble des lois fédérales canadiennes qui sont défectueuses car elles accordent une priorité indue à la religion. Il faut modifier ou abroger ces lois.
  • Les autres pseudo-arguments pour permettre le niqab sont d’une nullité totale et souvent mensongers. On essaie de culpabiliser les gens qui s’opposent au niqab pour une opinion tout à fait raisonnable.
  • Le « débat » sur le niqab—qui n’est pas un débat mais plutôt une campagne toxique de dénigrement de la laïcité—est une reprise de la controverse autour de la défunte Charte de la laïcité en 2013-2014, avec la différence qu’on ne peut comparer le Parti Québécois (qui a pris une position pro-laïcité) aux Conservateurs de Harper (qui n’ont rien de laïque).
  • La reconnaissance légale du port du niqab en tout lieu et en toute cironstance est une grande victoire pour l’islamofascisme et une grande défaite pour la démocracie.
  • Comble d’ironie, ce n’est pas Harper qui est en train de mettre le dernier clou dans le cercueil de la bonne réputation internationale qu’avait le Canada avant le début de son régime en 2006. Non, ce sont ses adversaires Mulcair et Trudeau qui s’opposent sottement à l’interdiction du niqab qui font maintenant du Canada la risée de la planète.

Moving the Muslim Mainstream Towards Islamism

By refering to the full veil—such as the niqab—as “Muslim” clothing, as the media repeatedly do, they effectively move the “centre” or mainstream of Muslims down the spectrum towards extremism. This is because the niqab is not just plain Muslim dress, rather it is a form of clothing imposed by a particular radical fundamentalist fringe of Islam, usually referred to as Islamism. If the niqab is now considered representative of Islam, then Islam is now centred around radical Islamism. This does a serious disservice to moderate Muslims, because it colours them with the same radical brush as the extremists.

The Arguments for Banning the Niqab During Official Ceremonies

Of course the wearing of face coverings during official ceremonies must be banned. It is utterly absurd to even consider allowing such accoutrements in the context of a solemn occasion such as a citizenship ceremony. There are several arguments to be made, any one of which is sufficient to justify a ban:

  1. Communication In human interaction, non-verbal communication via facial expression is a major component (about half) of the total communication. By hiding the face or most of it, the niqab-wearer refuses to communicate effectively. That individual is cut off from other humans by the virtual wall she or he is wearing, seriously undermining interactions with others. Human beings are social animals. A person who covers her/his face is a person not to be trusted.
  2. Rights of Women The full Islamist veils such as the burka and the niqab are blatant symbols of the subjugation and inferiorization of women. It is a flag of gender inequality and transmits the message that women are the property of men.
  3. Freedom of Conscience of Participants By allowing one particular group to display blatantly one of its sectarian symbols during an official ceremony, the freedom of conscience of all other participants is compromised by having a particular religious belief system imposed on them. Allowing such religious advertising in a context which is a state occasion totally unrelated to religion is similar to having large displays of commercial advertising in the classrooms of public schools.
  4. Political Activism in an Inappropriate Context Islamist fundamentalism is not just a religious tendency. It is a major and very dangerous political ideology with an anti-democratic program. Wearing the full veil constitutes implicit promotion of this fascist ideology. While this may be tolerated, for reasons of freedom of expression, outside of public institutions, such promotion is unacceptable during an official ceremony (or, similarly, if the wearer is a public servant on duty).
  5. Identity and Security Of course face-coverings make identification difficult and are thus a major security issue. No further explanation is required on this point.

There may be other arguments missing from the above list.

The Argument Against Banning the Niqab During Official Ceremonies

There is only one argument against banning the niqab, and it is not really an argument but rather a set of legal constraints. Canadian federal law is severely flawed and unjust because it grants many privileges to religions and to religious institutions. That is why judges have recently struck down the niqab ban, i.e. because Canadian law strongly supports such an interpretation. Freedom of religion is given a higher priority than other freedoms. The obvious solution is to change the law.

In the case of the niqab, the following modifications are required or highly recommended:

  • Repeal 17.1.b of the Citizenship Regulations, part of the Citizenship Act, which stipulates that the oath must be administered with “the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation thereof.”
  • Repeal (or greatly revise) the Multiculturalism Act, and remove references to it from other legislation, because Canadian multiculturalism is basically equivalent to cultural relativism. As writer and secular activist Djemila Benhabib has pointed out (in a Facebook post, Oct. 10), “Multiculturalism quite simply legitimizes, in the political, judicial and social spheres, inequalities which originate in the culture and religion of one’s birth. Given that it is founded on the recognition of religions and the assignment by default of each individual to his or her immutable birth identity, any constraint on religious expression is usually interpreted as a hindrance to freedom of religion per se, as discriminatory, or even as racist. From that perspective, the various fundamentalisms have found an ideal vehicle and an open road to advance their cause!” (Translation: D.R.)
  • Revise the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to remove its pro-religious bias. For example, the Charter lists freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of belief as three of several fundamental freedoms. However, the last two are NOT fundamental; rather, both are part of freedom of conscience, which also includes freedom FROM religion and freedom of NON-belief. Thus, freedom of conscience should be listed as fundamental, while freedoms of religion, irreligion, belief and non-belief should all be listed as corollaries of it.

The last of these three modifications would be very difficult to achieve because it involves amending the Constitution. The first two would be less difficult, but not easy. Once again, the above list may need to be expanded. For example, the Criminal Code needs to be revised by removing both the blasphemy ban and the religious exception for hate propaganda. And of course the mention of “God” must be removed from the preamble to the Canadian Charter.

Some Pseudo-arguments Against Banning the Niqab During Official Ceremonies

The Binary fallacy

This fallacy, called the “either-or” fallacy and other names, describes the false notion that there are only two possibles responses to a situation. In this case, you must either oppose Harper (and support the niqab as a “right”) or oppose the niqab, but not both. We can succinctly summarize this fallacy using the following pseudo-syllogism:

  1. Harper is evil.
  2. Harper hates the niqab.
  3. Therefore, the niqab is good

That sums up rather well the intellectual acuity (i.e. vacuity) of those who claim that the wearing of the niqab is a “right.” It makes as much sense as opposing the breathing of oxygen because Harper breathes oxygen.

Religious “Freedom”

The court decisions striking down the niqab ban and the discourse of those who support those decisions are riddled with references to freedom of religion which elevate that freedom above other considerations. This privilege must be refused. But to do so will require modifying legislation as explained above.

Specious Accusations of “Intolerance” etc.

Accusations of “divisiveness”, “identity politics”, “intolerance”, “xenophobia” and even “racism” are regularly thrown at supporters of a niqab ban. These accusations are pure bullshit, a smokescreen to distract from the speciousness and vacuity of arguments against the ban. In response to the fact that polls have shown that a majority of Canadians, and an overwhelming majority in Quebec, support a niqab ban, opponents of a ban blather about a “lack of understanding” of other cultures and a “lack of exposure” to diverse cultures, as if this majority were motivated only by ignorance. Yet these accusations come from those who never mention the very dangerous aspects of some very prominent variants of Islam; it is the accusers who display ignorance. Furthermore, the niqab itself is a barrier to knowledge of and interaction with others.

The Politics of Guilt

Closely related to the previous point is the tactic of trying to silence secularists—and anyone else who would try to put reasonable constraints on the excesses of religion—by instilling feelings of guilt. This is often phrased as “the politics of fear” as if fear were irrational or even a horrible sin. In reality, to fear religion in general and Islam in particular is in no way irrational. On the contrary it is a matter of due diligence, a necessity. When that due diligence is performed, when we make the effort to examine various religious doctrines and movements objectively, we find many of which we should indeed be very afraid, and Islam is currently at the top of that list. A particularly disgusting example of this strategy can be found in the Toronto Star Editorial Can Stephen Harper stoop any lower on the niqab?. They even manage to slander Quebec.

Extreme Libertarianism

The dangerous meme which states that wearing a full veil anywhere and everywhere is a “right” is related to an extreme version of the ideology of libertarianism or right-wing anarchism. This ideology holds that the only good government is basically no government, or the smallest and weakest possible. Consequently, it leads inevitably to the tyranny of the rich and powerful. For example, if a country has no legislation preventing foreign powers from financing religious institutions, then that country is a sitting duck for the Saudi Arabian government (which internally is certainly not libertarian!) and its very well financed campaign to use petro-dollars to establish mosques in many countries and use them to preach a Wahhabite version of Islam.

The Niqab “Debate” is a Repeat of Opposition to Quebec’s Charter of Secularism

There is a strong parallel between the currently proposed niqab ban and the Charter of Secularism proposed in 2013-2014 by the former PQ Quebec government. In both cases there is no real debate, but rather toxic hostilities and moralizing from those who oppose any dress code. Supporters of a dress code are vilified, accused of the usual plethora of imaginary crimes (“intolerance”, etc.) taken from the familiar arsenal of Canadian multiculturalists. In both cases opponents elevate “freedom of religion” to a status having priority over other freedoms and then call this privilege a “right.”

Of course there are also differences between the two situations. The separatism (or sovereignty or independence) promoted by the PQ is an innocuous political program compared to the anti-science, anti-environmentalist and anti-democratic policies pursued by the current federal government. Antipathy towards the PQ is largely just a matter of hatred of Quebecers, i.e. ethnic bigotry (which in other contexts many people would imprecisely call “racism”) against Francophone Quebecers, whereas antipathy towards Harper’s Conservatives has a much more rational basis. Voting for the Parti Québécois in the April 2014 provincial election was an eminently reasonable option for secularists, whereas in the current federal election the niqab issue does not justify voting for Harper, especially given that his government’s attempts to ban the niqab—although laudable and certainly preferable to the cowardly and retrograde position of the two opposition parties—have nothing to do with secularist goals.

Nevertheless, it must be recognized that these questions of secularism—i.e. the Charter in April 2014 and the proposed niqab ban currently—must be distinguished from other, unrelated issues and evaluated on their own merits. A good idea is a good idea, even one coming from the much hated (and for good reasons) Harper government. There are many good reasons to vote against Harper, but the niqab issue is NOT one of them.

Democracy 0, Islamofascism 1

The recent success of Zunera Ishaq in obtaining the “right,” as ruled by two federal courts this year, to be sworn in as a Canadian citizen while wearing the niqab, is a major victory for Islamofascism and a major defeat for secularism, and hence a defeat for democracy, because it enshrines in Canadian jurisprudence an important religious privilege. Indeed, the courts’ rulings imply that Ishaq’s religious affiliation is more important even than the citizenship she is obtaining. By elevating religious privileges, the rights of the non-religious are demeaned; indeed the rights of everyone not belonging to the particular religious sect enjoying the privilege is similarly demeaned.

The niqab, like the burka, is a sort of flag of international islamofascism and Ishaq, whether she realizes it or not, is in the vanguard of that movement. The niqab is of course a Muslim symbol, but promoted by the most fundamentalist, radical and extremist of Muslims. To trivialize the full veil, to make it commonplace, a mere choice of clothing, while simultaneously elevating it to the status of a “right” which must be protected in the name of freedom of religion—even in a solemn ceremony having nothing to do with religion—is a major victory for fundamentalists. It is a victory won without physical weapons, using only legalities, to destroy rights using “rights.” It is a victory made very easy by Canadian multiculturalism, which leaves the door wide open for abuse.

The Islamists must be laughing all the way to the mosque.

Canada’s Ruined International Reputation

After a decade of government by the Harper Conservatives, Canada’s formerly enviable reputation in the international community is almost destroyed. But, ironically, the final nail in the coffin of that reputation is being hammered not by Harper but by the fools who oppose his policy of attempting to ban the niqab. By supporting the ridiculous idea that a religious fanatic and political activist for an international fascist movement has the “right” to wear a symbol of her or his movement, anywhere and everywhere, even during a solemn state ceremony, Mulcair, Trudeau and other niqab-defenders have made sure that Canada is now the laughing stock of the planet.

Suggested reading:

Next blog: Trudeau & Mulcair Can Easily Resolve the Niqab Issue