Niqab issue sparks anger

Edward Hitchins
News reporter

Born in Somalia at the height of the civil war that wracked Somalia, 18-year-old Fadima Hassan carries the scars of oppression.

The first year Humber student studying recreation and leisure came the long way to Canada.  “Being a child, running from home to home was really hard,” said Hassan. “My father lost a leg in that war. We came to Canada from Somalia [via Ethiopia] because of the better opportunities presented.”

One opportunity is the ability to vote against a government making an election issue of the niqab.

Hassan received her voter card from Elections Canada last week for the federal election on Oct. 19, despite her lack of political views.

“I don’t know much about politics, but what the government is trying to do is really bothering me,” said Hassan.

The federal government tried to ban the niqab, a traditional Muslim headdress, at citizenship ceremonies. The Supreme Court of Canada struck the ban down as unconstitutional, but the federal government has taken a hardline stance, including the possibility of introducing legislation.

That has many on the Humber North campus saying it is a violation of women’s rights.

“If they are banning the niqab, they are banning a part of a religion,” said second year student Soumeya Abdi. “It is contradicting what Canadian citizens’ rights are. Banning a woman’s attire is almost like banning the woman herself.”

Women’s studies professor Angela Aujla believes the ban goes far beyond women’s rights.

“Harper’s contrived focus on this non-issue is insulting to the intelligence of Canadians, and has the potential to incite violence against Muslim women in his country,” said Aujla.

“His inflammatory statements on this issue and on “barbaric cultural practices” is not only irresponsible, but dangerous,” she said. “It is ignoring more important election issues such as the economy and foreign policy.”

Meanwhile, Hassan hopes the next government formed after Oct. 19 focuses on she says Canada is really about.

“Canada was a country that accepts everyone, whether it be their religion, colour or culture,” she said. “I hope they can get back to what people around the world see Canada as.”

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