This has been going on for a while, the push to ban the Niqab. I’m no muslim but this one bugs me in a big way and I’ll tell you why.
If you read the papers around here, you will see that the debate appears to center around whether the niqab makes people uncomfortable and whether it is fair for veiled muslim women to receive government services without having to uncover their face. While you are busy raising your bloodpressure over the question of whether foreigners should have to sacrifice a certain amount of religious freedom when they move to Canada, you are missing the true reason for why the niqab has been made into an issue at all: it interferes with the implementation of facial recognition software in surveillance systems.
In Quebec, the debate centers around the hapless pharmacist Naema Ahmed, who was twice thrown out of a government- mandated French class for refusing to remove her veil. The second time she was given the boot, it was in the middle of an exam, adding academic injury to cultural insult.
The public immediately split up into camps on the issue of religious freedom versus cultural intergation, spouting phrases like “If you want to come to Canada, you have to abide by Canadian law”, although no law exists against wearing a veil, and “The veil makes people uncomfortable: we want to see your face”.
Baaa, baa, baaa.
You don’t appreciate a veiled pharmacist? Is it for security reasons? Maybe you think she will send an impostor and poison her clients. Or perhaps, you just don’t like to be served by someone whose face is hidden. Allow me to just point out that when you go to the pharmacy, you give your order to a technician and pick it up from a cashier. The pharmacist often does nothing more than verify the prescription. She does give consultation, but if you are willing to take consultation over the phone from Info-Sante, not being able to see her face should be a non-issue. And if it still bothers you, you could always go across the street to another pharmacy.
Or is the issue just one of making people feel uncomfortable in general? Many things make people feel uncomfortable: public nose-picking and farting top the list. Maybe public rudeness should be outlawed, too. Unusual dress of all kinds makes some people squirm. Will that kid with the green mohawk be forced to remove his plethora of piercings before entering the classroom? How about transexual men in cheap wigs? And the guys who wear their pants so low you can see their crack? And while we’re on the subject of pants, how about the girls with the low-rise jeans who flaunt their neon-green thongs for all to see? Maybe what Quebec needs is a Minister of Modesty who will oversee the new dress code. Modest, but not too modest. Something that will ensure that no-one is ever offended by another’s attire. Maybe a uniform. It worked so well for communist China, after all.
Oh, but I digress. I was going to tell you why this has nothing to do with culture or religious freedom and everything to do with implementing a police state through the installation of cameras with facial recognition software.
You may remember that a little while back, the debate over facial coverings in Quebec had nothing to do with niqabs and everything to do with protesters. Unmask the trouble-makers! It’s for public safety!
I would like to point out that if anyone is doing anything illegal at a protest, the omnipresent riot police should be able to arrest them on the spot. So what is the problem with facial coverings? Oh, it prevents suspects who got away from later being identified and apprehended. This, of course, would not be possible either unless there were cameras in place to capture their naked mugs for later analysis.
If you want to see where we are heading in terms of surveillance, all you have to do is look at England, where they now have not only thousands of cameras eyeing your every move, but even programs by which citizens can serve their country by spying on their fellow- Londoners and promptly correcting their behaviour by addressing them through loudspeakers. “Madam, you have dropped your cigarette butt: please pick it up”.
We are surrounded with propaganda when it comes to the niqab debate, but it is not about manipulating you to suddenly feel there is a pressing need to force people to accommodate to ‘Canadian culture’- whatever that is. It’s about making you think that is the issue in the first place.