Farzana Hassan responds to niqab controversy in Canada

The Toronto Star – December 17, 2010

In Quebec in March 2010, provincial premier Jean Charest initiated legislation that would ban the niqab in public. Ontario’s Court of Appeal, meanwhile, said that the niqab must be removed in a court of law if the accused’s right to a fair trial requires it.

Farzana Hassan, a scholar and activist from Pakistan and the former president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, advocates a ban on the burqa and niqab, both of which obscure all of a woman’s face and head except her eyes. Hassan says the Qur’an does not demand adherence to these garments, and that even though some women say they “choose” to wear them, both represent a form of intolerable subjugation.

“The burqa is steeped in patriarchy,” says Hassan. “It is not a legitimate choice.”