Canadian Minister Claims Wide Support for country’s ‘burqa ban’

News Agencies  – January 23, 2012

A month after Canada banned Muslim women from covering their faces during citizenship ceremonies, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the policy has won widespread support. Speaking at a Muslim Canadian Congress event honouring his “courageous decision,” Mr. Kenney said polling shows that eight out of 10 Canadians agreed with the decision while only 14% were opposed. He said he would not act on suggestions to hold separate citizenship ceremonies for Muslim women who cover their faces in public.

The minister characterized the new rule as part of a broader strategy to strengthen the value of citizenship in Canada, which he said has the highest rate of naturalization of any country in the developed world. While the audience gathered at a Toronto hotel spoke mostly in support of the niqab ban, one woman said she was “extremely offended” by the comments she had heard. “If somebody believes in it [the niqab] then it’s their right to practise it,” said Fatema Dada of the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association.

Muslim women must show faces when taking Canadian citizenship oath

News Agencies – December 12, 2011

 

A requirement for new Canadians to show their faces while taking the oath of citizenship puts the federal government on one side of a simmering debate over how far the state should go to accommodate minorities. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that Muslim women who wear burqas or niqabs must remove the garments when they are becoming citizens.

The decision comes as the Supreme Court of Canada considers whether a woman should be allowed to testify in court with her face covered. And Quebec is debating a bill to ban face coverings for people receiving some government services, and those providing them. Two federal Conservative attempts to ban veiled voting have stalled before becoming law in recent years.

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration minister against burqa law

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney doesn’t believe in banning the burqa. But Mr. Kenney does think Canadians, Muslim or otherwise, should have to identify themselves visually when voting in federal elections. These comments emerged relating to Bill C-623, a private member’s bill from Conservative MP Steven Blaney. Bill C-623 mandates that “en elector shall have an uncovered face when the elector is proving his or her identity.” But it does not change the acceptable ways of proving one’s identity. One can still provide either a driver’s licence or health card (as long as it has your photograph, name and address on it), or “two pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer each of which establish the elector’s name and at least one of which establishes the elector’s address” — a hydro bill and a bank statement, for example.
MPs are trying to require voters to show both photo ID and their faces, so a poll worker can compare the former to the latter. However, it’s true that it’s illogical to worry about Muslim women hypothetically voting while veiled even as 250,000 people vote by mail, but that discrepancy already exists: We demand identification of people who vote in person, but not of those who vote by mail.

Toronto becomes an “underground railroad” for gay Iranian Refugees

November 19, 2010

Arsham Parsi escaped Iran five years ago and has since assisted 50 gay Iranians to safety in Canada (and consulting on 250 other cases) with the COSTI Immigration services in downtown Toronto. The arrival of lesbian and gay refugees to Canada is difficult. Temporary asylum can be even more damaging than the persecution refugees face in their home countries, said Rachel Tribe, a senior lecturer at the University of East London’s School of Psychology. Separation from family, the loss of socio-economic status and the inability to speak the language can lead to crippling depression.

In 2010 Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney increased the quota of government-assisted refugees in Turkey who are invited to Canada from 475 to 640. The two most prominent groups that need resettlement help are “refugees from Iraq who are fleeing persecution, and gays, lesbians and dissidents who have had to flee Iran,” Kenney said.

Father and brother plead guilty in “Honor Killing” in the greater Toronto area

On Dec. 10, 2007, Asqa Parvez’s father called 911 saying he had killed her. When police arrived, they found Ms. Parvez’s mother crying hysterically and her father with blood on his hands.

In a Brampton courtroom last week, Ms. Parvez’s father, Muhammad Parvez, 60, and her brother, Waqas Parvez, 29, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. They will be sentenced to 25 years in prison. When asked by his wife why he had killed their daughter, Ms. Parvez said her husband told her: “My community will say you have not been able to control your daughter. This is my insult. She is making me naked.”

Observers say the case, among the first so-called honor killings to gain widespread attention in Canada, will cast a spotlight on generational strains that can tear at families adapting to a new culture. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said it’s a particularly pernicious form of murder to kill a member of one’s own family for cultural reasons.

Muslim Canadian Congress founder Tarek Fatah said the guilty plea is a wake-up call for parents to understand that young women are not the possessions of men. Muslim leaders who do not call Ms. Parvez’s murder an honour killing are avoiding the real issue, Mr. Fatah said.

Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister continues public battle with the Canadian Arab Federation; Muslim Canadian Congress founder responds

Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney claims he is reshaping Canada’s approach to immigration and multiculturalism. Kenney claims: “We want to avoid the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries. So far, we’ve been pretty successful at that, but I think it’s going to require greater effort in the future to make sure that we have . . . social cohesion rather than fracturing.” Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress applauds Kenney’s efforts. “He’s standing up for Canadian values. I would like every politician to stand up for this country the way Jason Kenney has.”

Kenney has recently, among other recent controversies, criticized Muslim-led attempts to censor Canadian writers through human rights commissions, and slamming certain groups that would stoke Middle East enmities, leading to accusations in Arab communities, and in some corners of the media, that the Minister has abandoned an unprejudiced approach and made Canada a stooge for the so-called Israel lobby: The CAF called him a “professional whore;” the Toronto Star a “professional fool”.