What's the Big Deal With Wearing a Niqab?

This election has gone on far too long. Shame on Harper. It's so long, a usually informed and engaged chap like me has yet to truly plug-in.

I was at a wedding Saturday and chatted with a buddy who noticed I haven't written about our federal election. The fact is, I did write one entry, but that's it. I just haven't dove in yet.

But I do read the news, listen to the news, and follow the zeitgeist via Twitter, and there's an awful lot of noise about women wearing a niqab during citizenship ceremonies. People seemed outraged that this could one day be permitted. In fact, actual issues of importance have been drowned out by this debate. It's sad.

What am I missing here? Is this plain and simple Islamophobia? Why does it matter if a woman wears a niqab during a citizenship ceremony?

I'm not a fan of any religion. I think it's a big honkin' slice of bullshit designed to oppress and suppress, and I believe we'd all be far better off without any of it, but I respect one's right to follow a religion, even Islam.

I think some people confuse issues, and think women will not be identifying themselves before reciting the oath. The fact is, would-be Canadians are required to provide multiple proofs of identity and those who wear face coverings must remove them before the ceremony in private before a citizenship official. The citizenship ceremony comes after these key steps.

Harper might not be a very good Prime Minister, but he's a very clever campaigner. He's managed to tap into Canadians' racism to win a minority government.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope Canada is better than that.


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First of all, of course you don't think its a big deal - you got the memo from your Twitter fellow travelers. I do agree that if some oppressed woman wants to wear this canopy, its "her" decision, of sorts...

Next, you're wrong on two counts: 1) It is NOT a religious requirement for Islam. It is a cultural practice among some muslim women to wear it. If you go back 20 yrs ago, you hardly saw these bee keeper outfits anywhere. Now, they're much more present. 2) It has absolutely nothing to do with racism. Almost all of the women who wear these tents are of Arabian decent and thus are white. Most muslims of an Indian background stay the hell away from these getups. Are you saying Harper doesn't like white people?

October 6, 2015 @ 9:47 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I'm saying Harper is tapping into Islamophobia to gain votes. Canadians link the niqab with Islam.

Whether it's her decision or not is a completely different argument. We have to assume she's wearing the niqab because she wants to.

October 6, 2015 @ 9:54 AM


Yes, he is tapping into "islamaphobia" but you used the word "racism" which as I've stated many times here is a different thing. You could call it bigotry but it aint racism.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:12 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Ok, let's call it Islamophobia.

But my venn diagram of Islamophobes and racists looks like one circle.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:26 AM

James Edgar

Sorry mike I'm not sure we are better than that. This issue has been way overblown and manipulated by the conservatives and even people who are not Islamophobes and freaking out about this.

Argie do some research you're only partially correct. Shia Muslims don't seem to have the requirement to wear coverings. Sunni Muslim tradition does require women to be covered. And there is debate amongst Islamic scholars from both sects as to the correctness of the requirement and non requirement.

All of which is meaning less in this post, As Mike puts so well this is misdirection . We have real issues like unemployment ,the economy etc etc to deal with . Whether or not a few hundred ( no idea how many people we are talking about) women can wear a face covering after having there identity confirmed in private is not a burning question.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:27 AM


I don't think this is Islamaphobia that Harper is using but Xenophobia.

Sadly this is getting a lot of attention in Quebec. This shouldn't be an election issue.

But let me be clear...I hate the niqab and all it stands for. It's oppressive and it turns my stomach. But this shouldn't be an issue at a citizenship ceremony.

Harper has gone too far with this issue. It reprehensible that he would use this. I highly doubt that Clark, Turner, Campbell, Mulroney, Chretien, Martin or Pearson woudl ever use such feat tactics to win an election.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:29 AM


I agree with you but the other parties are also using it as an election issue to paint Harper and his supporters as "racists" as our friend Mike just did.

That's politics - dirty and unscrupulous.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:38 AM

Ben V

McNulty hit the nail on the head it is xenophobia at it's height. Where and when did this issue of Niqab become important?

One name. Lynton Crosby.

Don't know who this piece of @#$@ is, I suggest you look him up.

This is the Australian scum bag that has been likened to Karl Rove, another deplorable and evil human being. He helped win elections in Austrailia by tapping into xenophobic beliefs that end up bearing no difference to flat out racism. This is the guy Harper hired to help is flagging campaign and look what it's done. This is the kind of party the conservatives are now. This is who people actually want running the country?

The Niqab being worn at the official ceremony is a none issue. All the checks and balances before that photo opp have been gone through. It's not going to be a surprise person under that veil strapped with bombs.

This is complete obfuscation of what is really important to Canadians. It also taps into Quebec's low tolerance for things that could be perceived to affect their French culture.

Make no mistake, I effing hate all religions. I know what the niqab represents and to be truthful it irks me to watch women being forced into wearing them. I feel saddened when they are walking in a mall being forced to walk 10 feet behind their husband. For better or worse being a first world country we must accept it. Move on, bigger fish to fry.

Clearly Argie is always in the know, because he continually indicates how other people are uninformed on any issue he disagrees with. Saddest thing is how easy it is to tap into people's fears of an imaginary problem. Think about all the times that's been done in the last 100 years and beyond. Communism, Jews, gays, irish, catholics, the new sex-ed curriculum in ontario & now niqab. It also helps when Harper uses a lot of misinformation about the actual process and the issue.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:59 AM

Ben V

Again Argie, like mike said the venn diagram of Islamophobes and racists looks like one circle.

It's not hard to paint that picture when you know who Harper hired to turn his campaign around.

But please argue that I'm wrong.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:00 AM


Harper is attempting a Nixon-style "southern strategy" here. It's really unnerving that Canada has come to this, in 2015. I realize that the cons don't care about the long-term effects of causing Islamophobia and other minority group-phobias, but I am also surprised at the percentage of voters that are biting this bait.
And off-topic (sorry): it's astounding how little is being talked about the disastrous TPP. Goodbye manufacturing sectors, and any other value-added industries.
Steve was right, I really won't recognize Canada when he is through with it.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:13 AM


My God, you're angry. I agreed with Mike & McNulty. I only pointed out Mike's 2 errors - that's it.

I'm starting to worry about you.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:24 AM

Ben V

@MM: If people actually knew what the TPP is all about there would be outrage. Think our manufacturing sector is bad now? Just wait. That way the conservatives can blame every province with a manufacturing sector that goes down the shitter on the non-conservative provincial government for being at fault.

Then there is the supply chain management side, it's quite disturbing what this will do.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:24 AM

Ben V

@Argie: And again don't address what I said to you.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:26 AM

Mr Robot

The real glaring irony is that it's Quebecois bitching about this. They're upset what's happening at a Canadian ceremony, ignoring they've spent most of their life trying to get out of the country. Suddenly Les Quebecois care about something Canadian.

The niqab is no more a requirement for a Muslim, etc than stoning your wife because she isn't a virgin (Leviticus) is for a Christian. It's based on interpretation of whatever dusty old book you read. And therein lies the problem with all followers of religion. They treat religion like a buffet. Out in Calgary some guy didn't want to drive the "Pride bus". Him and his wife ranted on about it with his wife's noticeable tattoo's in sight. I guess she missed the biblical passage about not marking your skin in Leviticus lol.

An individual IS required to show their face for citizenship just as they are for their drivers license photo. As there always is, much of this is about misinformation. And in the end this country has far more serious issues to contend with than this. And it's not really racism in the classic definition because we're not talking about race. We're talking about culture & religion.

As for a woman choosing to wear a niqab and whether it's some form of misogyny, is it really? Males offer women an extraordinary amount of attention and often it's unwanted attention. If a woman wishes to cover up her physical features in the attempt to have men avoid her is that misogynistic or just her choice?. Who draws the line & where?

My own opinion is that while I would prefer that a woman show up not wearing one, it's so insignificant I don't care. The citizenship process would have already vetted out other issues. This doesn't even fall under the issue of national security (of which I might have some inkling). It's just a tempest in a tea pot brought up by a desperate angry man who knows his political career is going to end very soon.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:27 AM


Lifelong Conservative supporter here. I have to admit I'm a big fan of how the whole niqab issue has gone down considering the dramatic rise in support for the Conservatives in Quebec. However, putting partisan politics aside, I think this whole think is fundamentally ridiculous.

Who the hell cares if a few dozen women (because that's what it really amounts to) want to wear a niqab during a citizenship ceremony? How does it affect voters in any way? If these niqab-wearing women were a true "security threat" the government wouldn't have let them make it to a citizenship ceremony in the first place. The whole security argument is pure nonsense. We white Canadians can debate the merits of the niqab, proclaiming that the niqab is female oppression or whatever. It may well be. But at the end of the day, it's not our job to tell others how to live their lives. If a women wants to wear a niqab, she should be able to wear a niqab. End of story.

The fact that this has become such a major issue in this election campaign is outrageous and sad. The amount of time spent on this has been a waste. I'm happy with the spike in Conservative support, but let's stick to the real issues.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:30 AM


I did. Go back and re-read my posts.

Do you expect me to address each and every single item you ranted about? Sorry, I don't have the time for that.

"Leviticus" as a Christian reference. Funny.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:44 AM


Of course it's racism. Pure and simple racism. The thugs that attacked the woman in Toronto and the woman in Montreal aren't sitting around splitting hairs on the finer points of terminology.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:50 AM


Why would Conservatives be against a woman wearing a veil during a citizenship ceremony when they sign arms deals with the Saudi Wahhabi extremists who drape their women in acres of black cloth?

October 6, 2015 @ 12:03 PM

pastor don

Sorry to interfere with a thread about Harper's clever appeal to the dark, primitive reptile brain which works every time.
However Argie dismisses a good point raised by Mr. Robot re: 'Leviticus.'
In Christian theology Jesus Christ is the 'answer,' or 'fulfillment,' or 'realization,' of 'the prophecies. And where do we find 'the prophecies?' In the OLD TESTAMENT.
The Old Testament and the New Testament comprise the Christian bible found in churches all around the world. Leviticus is a book in the Old Testament.
Matthew 22:36:
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

October 6, 2015 @ 12:16 PM


@pastor don
This is pretty simple. Christians are followers of Jesus Christ. Christ clearly condemns people stoning a woman who is accused of committing adultery. Therefore, "stoning" anyone is definitely not part of Christianity.

It was a good try by Irv is imply Christians are for that practice - which I believe is only practiced by that other religion (aka the "religion of peace").

October 6, 2015 @ 12:25 PM

pastor don

@ Argie

I wouldn't get too self righteous over the brutality of those fundamentalist Islamic authorities who are stoning fellow Muslims to death. We bomb hospitals instead.

October 6, 2015 @ 12:36 PM

Nigel Trousershrapnel



for my pal Argie

*note - they're not real

October 6, 2015 @ 12:53 PM

Rob J

Surprised the issue of the multi-million dollar barbaric cultural practices hotline hasn't come up yet. To me the campaign jumped the shark with that bit of divisiveness! At least George W. Bush pretended to be a 'uniter, not a divider.'

October 6, 2015 @ 1:26 PM

Mark from Ottawa

I am not sure why you would even comment on this site. I have read the posts for a few days now and it is obvious that Toronto Mike and his commenters are left leaning in their ideology. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it is one group of people that believe a certain way.

I don't follow their beliefs as well but, your time would be better served with persons that share your ideology. Politics and Religion are funny things. People are entrenched in their beliefs and it is no use trying to determine who is right or wrong.

October 6, 2015 @ 3:41 PM


I know, I wonder that myself. The truth is I haven't discovered a conservative blog that covers the range of topics that this one does. I have reduced the times I've posted here - life and work are part of the reasons. Another is simply I've become tired of the confrontations from the usual few. Yes, I admit this topic caused me to post a few too many times but its not something I plan on doing on a regular basis.

Also, Mike is a good guy and even though I tend to disagree with him he is fair and he runs a interesting blog.

October 6, 2015 @ 3:53 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

And really, how often do I get political? Very rarely this past year.

October 6, 2015 @ 3:56 PM

Ben V

@ Mark from Ottawa: Not even sure in the last couple of days what posts there were to indicate a left leaning blog. Unless you went through the archives.

October 6, 2015 @ 4:29 PM


Argie, this blog is "dying". Why do you bother?

October 6, 2015 @ 4:41 PM


Attention Argie respondents; stop taking the bait. This is analogous to Harper's dog whistle niqab strategy.

October 6, 2015 @ 4:44 PM


Not a left-leaning blog. Not a right-leaning blog. I would bet though more AM talk radio listeners than Art Bell or RT or Voltaire net followers. And I'm guessing nobody here would decide to attack a woman in a mall for wearing a niqab. But certainly many who would secretly approve of Mr. grey helmet-hair making a big deal out of nothing and turning Canada into East Germany.

October 6, 2015 @ 4:55 PM


Thanks for having this forum. I left SOWNY|NET because it's run by a Bell hack.
First, the same people who think that our election process is too long are the same people enjoying the 4-year non-stop U.S. election campaign.
Second, I side with the NDP on this one; nothing wrong on the Nigab, as long as the dude is colour coordinated.

October 6, 2015 @ 7:23 PM


Left-leaning posts = biking posts

October 6, 2015 @ 9:47 PM


If you want to live in Canada & get your Citizenship abide by the laws in Canada.
You sacrificed & gave up your loyal previous domain to live here.

October 6, 2015 @ 9:52 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


The Canada that prides itself on being a cultural mosaic, you mean?

October 6, 2015 @ 9:57 PM


Chris: does the law address how a person must be dressed? Does the ceremony have a dress code?

October 6, 2015 @ 10:28 PM

Mr Robot

@Fourteen. The moderator likes Argie in the forums because his posts illicit a response. A year ago a typical Open Mike could get 100 or more posts, twice a week. Today, many of the regulars have left & the interaction has declined dramatically. If Argie left the blog would die even more.

@GodHelpUS. Well in some ways this blog is somewhat like SOWNY. SOWNY is a collection of people who mourn the loss of music from 40 years ago. TM folks mourn the loss of music from 20 years ago. Instead of more Oldies, they want more Pearl Jam or *gasp*, Tragically Hip. Same for radio. SOWNY mourns that CHUM AM returns. TM mourns that CFNY in some incarnation returns. Most people become exactly what their parents were. That's just a fact.


The government takes great offense to a citizen hiding their face whether it's a niqab or a person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask at a protest. Yet, the same government spends billions on people and technology who monitor our daily lives from the shadows. We can't see them. We aren't told we're being monitored. But we are.

Quite frankly I find it fucking amazing that no one gives a shit about this. If you're an environmentalist, Native, anti - government type, etc, etc, etc, an "invisible force" is probably monitoring you. In fact, they ARE monitoring you. So much for liberty and freedom, eh

I'm getting old, but I can remember a time when the governments of our enemies influenced the media & monitored the daily lives of the citizenry. You know, countries like Cuba, the USSR and China. We, the west, espoused "freedom and liberty". And today? Our own governments does EXACTLY the same thing. Protest a pipeline and the KGB, errr RCMP is monitoring you.


Where not knowing what Auschwitz is a serious crime but not knowing about the genocide of residential schools is perfectly acceptable.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:30 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Mr Robot

Are you ever wrong about this...

I don't like Argie because he "elicits a response", although I do like Argie, and I hope he doesn't go.

I don't care if an Open Mike gets 10 comments or 1000 comments. It makes little difference to me. In fact, if I turned off comments tomorrow, I'd continue to write as I have for 13 years and would enjoy it just as much. I'm not doing this for comments or hits.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:41 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Harper's government banned face coverings for anyone taking an oath of citizenship in front of a citizenship judge back in 2011. So yes, the ceremony currently has a dress code.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:45 PM

The Surfin' Safaris (all of them)

Mr. Robot makes many observations I enjoy reading and often learn something new but just to disagree on this point I think the posts that are sports and lifestyle oriented get quite a hearty response on this blog. I don't think anything here is slipping at all except full-throated political arguments that the Rob Ford thing set off and then Argie's expertise on ISIS when Syrian and Iraqi soldiers were dying by the truckload trying to stop them. And their mysterious enablers.

October 6, 2015 @ 10:48 PM

Mr Robot

Your own blog used to have a note that was something like "x number of posts, come on we can do better". You say that but claim you do not care about blog comments.

Further, you have reviews on products because you have an audience. You know that. I know that.

I know one thing. Someone has a hate on for Argie. And that someone is a long time resident of this blog or SOWNY.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:01 PM

Rob J

Funny that people that want newcomers to take on Canadian values actually despise Canadian values such as: multiculturalism, the monarchy, bilingualism, the Charter, freedom of religion, etc. They invent a false history and demand everyone accepts it.

October 6, 2015 @ 11:04 PM

Surf's Up

Did you see where the prison debating team defeated Harvard's debating team? Sometimes things that are rough around the edges deliver a more powerful communication. The political parties opposed to Harper's Reform Party, excuse me 'Conservatives,' could have gone on the street to interview young people about the niqab and made tolerance a positive experience. With a bit of creativity they could have turned this discussion into an enormous win for their side of the argument. There is still a tremendous amount of empathy in society for the underdog.

Having said that I don't think anybody at all enjoys seeing some husband who can walk around in the summer in a t-shirt while his wife has to wear a canvas tent with a rectangular opening for her eyes. So how to balance the two arguments.

October 7, 2015 @ 8:07 AM


Are any of you familiar with Christo's art projects where he drapes huge buildings or landscapes with cloth or material? He has covered the Reichstag for example and it's very dramatic in the photographs with lighting, etc... That photograph of the burka above looks like a Christo project draping a sculpture.

October 7, 2015 @ 8:42 AM


I don't know why everyone is saying the Niquab issue is helping Harper? He was at 31% at the beginning of the year, at the beginning of the campaign and now in the latest poll. It appears the issue has helped Trudeau and hurt Mulcair more. If anyone is a benefactor of this Niquab issue, it is Justin. All he has to do is stay quiet and this one issue will help him and the Liberals win.

With regards to the hatred towards all the religions, I just don't get it. Yes sure there have been many horrible abuses in history from all of the mainline religions but is that the religion or is it people within that religion? I have met good and bad people of all faiths and believe it or not, I have also met good and bad atheists too. Often people criticize religious people for being to judgmental however I see more judging going the other way these days.

October 7, 2015 @ 12:36 PM


Wow, Harper's doubling down on the niqabs ... now promising to ban them from the civil service too. http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/election/harper-on-quebec-public-service-niqab-ban-we-will-do-exactly-the-same-thing-1.2599286


What does the beginning of the year have to do with it? In September polling, the Conservatives were in third-place until they picked up the niqab issue. That's why we're saying it's helping him. Also polls have been conducted specifically linking his stance on it to a favourable opinion and reason for voting Conservative.

October 7, 2015 @ 2:04 PM


I would love to go a day without reading that phrase "doubling down". Just a wish on my part.

October 7, 2015 @ 2:49 PM


@markosaar sorry if I sound confusing but my point is Harper's support numbers during this election campaign have not moved, they have been at 30 to 31% all along. Yes he has gone from 3rd to 2nd place but not in support, only in standing. The true winner in this Niquab issue is Trudeau because Mulcair's support is going to the Liberals, not the conservatives. Hope this makes sense.

October 7, 2015 @ 3:12 PM

Mark from Ottawa

@ Ben V

No, I read quite a few in the archives during that time to form my opinion.

October 7, 2015 @ 3:23 PM


I would love to go to a citizenship ceremony. I would wear a speedo....... and cowboy boots.

Of course, I would have to go buy a speedo (because I currently don't own one).

October 7, 2015 @ 4:01 PM

historical precedent

Maybe Harper should ban 'their' food in public. Or maybe force them to wear yellow crescent moons. And ban their children from making clocks.

October 7, 2015 @ 4:59 PM

precedential decree

'Today we save the nation from the niqab. Tomorrow we save it from cous-cous.'

October 7, 2015 @ 5:07 PM

decreedence clearwater revival

'Do you know how evil the poetry of Kahil Gibran really is???????????????????????'
Contact your school librarian at once!

October 7, 2015 @ 5:08 PM


If indeed you must be candid, be candid beautifully.

Kahlil Gibran

October 7, 2015 @ 5:14 PM


Oh by all means let us discuss the naqib during a federal election instead of the TPP which will put international pharmaceutical corporations in charge of provincial and federal health care plans.

I mean, your family wants them to be profitable right? And your national health insurance just gets in the way really. Does your mom really need that hip replacement?

oh yes. Back to the niqab.

October 7, 2015 @ 6:08 PM


Forum president Lorne Bozinoff argues the results suggest that while Stephen Harper’s support for a niqab ban has traction in Quebec, his position on the issue may be “backfiring” elsewhere in Canada.

October 8, 2015 @ 8:35 AM


Nice try Harper to tap into the racism that created the Residential School system but fortunately there are enough intelligent people to prevent us from being Alabama North (for now).

Now about that TPP [SECRET] [SECRET] [SECRET] deal.

October 8, 2015 @ 8:38 AM


Harper is an islamaphobe, as are the leaders of Turkey, Tunisia and a few other European countries. Oh wait a second - Turkey & Tunisia are run by muslims. Huh?


October 8, 2015 @ 1:09 PM


Pssst, I have an idea..... don't vote for him.

October 8, 2015 @ 1:42 PM


The point is that Harper is using it as a racist issue to divide the opposition political parties (and even society, and to identify a tiny, sub-group as 'them' and some sort of alien, subhuman threat.

That's the issue right now in Canada and it's a racist ploy which sadly to some degree has been successful. It's a dirty business and shows us how many of us in Canada have tiny, cold hearts.

October 8, 2015 @ 9:17 PM

as white as they get

Disclaimer: I am not a Liberal voter or party member but here is a very interesting reply to Andrew Coyne's column on Harper's niqab baiting by a former (?) Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella.

October 8, 2015 @ 9:24 PM

'Hutterite' update

To suggest that a woman wearing a niqab is either oppressed or a terrorist defies common sense. Everybody needs to reveal their true identity and be properly processed before becoming a Canadian citizen. Nobody can argue that. But this woman comes from an area of the world where women have worn veils of one kind or another for thousands of years. In the biblical story of Jacob we read how he was tricked into marrying the wrong woman because she was veiled! All Jacob needed was a standard Canadian government identity check!

What I sincerely want and value is my religious freedom. My forefathers were burnt at the stake and nearly annihilated so I would have the right to my faith. But the only way I can secure that right is if I offer the same to others.

My Hutterite perspective on the Niqab
October 7, 2015
Mary-Ann Kirkby


October 12, 2015 @ 9:56 AM



I agree with you but the other parties are also using it as an election issue to paint Harper and his supporters as "racists" as our friend Mike just did.

@Argie: Would Trudeau and Mulcair even be bringing up the niquab if not for Harper throwing that dead cat on the table in the first place?

October 13, 2015 @ 11:17 AM

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