Canadian Sheema Khan responds to possible French burqa ban

Following last month’s call by the Muslim Canadian Congress to ban the face-covering niqab, or buraa, about 30 Muslim groups across Canada denounced the proposal. Their basis: The state has no business dictating what a woman should wear, nor infringing on individual freedoms. Sheema Khan acknowledges, however, how legalities aside, many Canadians feel uncomfortable seeing the face-veil here. It represents a physical barrier, which has no precedent in our culture. It has also become a misogynous icon, due to the Taliban, and Saudi “religious” police. Security is an added concern. Finally, many assume veiled women are coerced into wearing “that thing.”

Yet, Khan highlights that the intentions of these women are diverse. For some, it is an act of faith to get closer to God. Some incur the disapproval of family, friends and community for taking this step; others are forced to do so by family members. Youthful defiance may play a role. As for security, veiled women readily comply with identification protocols when required.

Human rights watch condemns possible French burqa ban

Human Rights Watch has condemned France’s possible burqa ban for violating rights of Muslim women, warning the move could stigmatize the whole Muslim minority in the country. “We are still very concerned that the restrictions will seriously interfere with the rights of Muslim women in France – the right to manifest their religion and the right to personal autonomy,” Judith Sunderland, senior researcher for Western Europe at Human Rights Watch, told the Inter Press Service.

The rights group accused politicians championing the ban of taking the wrong approach to the integration of Muslim women. The human rights group warned that the French ban would stigmatize the Muslim minority in the country.