The National Post – October 15, 2010
Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s banning of a leading imam from the military’s Islamic History Month event has exposed an executive-level rift in the Canadian Islamic Congress between forces of progress and orthodoxy.
In a letter to the National Post today, CIC president Wahida Valiante openly disavows her reform-minded executive director, Zijad Delic, and rejects his criticisms about the Muslim group’s many public controversies, especially the failed hate speech cases against Maclean’s magazine.
Ms. Valiante writes that Mr. Delic’s plan to “purify” and “Canadianize” the CIC, and his desire to avoid lawsuits in favour of dialogue, “in no way reflect the views of CIC board.” This latest flap illustrates the harsh consequences for a Canadian Muslim leader who does not pledge loyalty to Mohamed Elmasry, the CIC founder and former president to whom Ms. Valiante was a long-time deputy.
Police forces in different parts of Canada claim charges will be laid against anyone who refuses to remove religious face-coverings such as Muslim niqabs when being booked after an arrest.
The RCMP and the Montreal police forces, who outlined the policy in interviews, laid down one notable caveat: such a case has never actually come up in either of their jurisdictions.
“This is getting absurd, really,” said Wahida Valiante, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress. “There are only, in the entire Quebec province, 25 women who wear the niqab so they can’t be in the highest number of criminals expected to be arrested.”
The RCMP and the Montreal force confirmed that to their knowledge no one wearing a niqab has ever refused to remove it for a mugshot. In fact, they can’t actually recall arresting anyone with a full veil either. While Montreal police sought legal advice on the issue a year ago, the RCMP say they’ve always followed the Identification of Criminals Act, part of the Criminal Code of Canada.