Let’s be clear – I was raised a Catholic but my thirst for more information about all religion led me to become a reformed Catholic. So, presumably I could still write RC on a form if asked but I must also acknowledge that I am a reformed smoker too. As some would say, I’m in recovery.
Without delving into all the various aspects of the many religions now and in the past, suffice to say they are generally based on tradition, superstition and mythology. I don’t have any problem if someone finds solace in any of these aspects – I simply don’t want their philosophies imposed on me. Freedom of expression means the ability to say or do anything you feel inclined, as long as you inflict no harm or hindrance on anyone else.
In the case of the niqab (or the burka, hijab, whatever) in places where the authorities demand that its use is required or suffer physical punishment; this is totalitarian despotism and goes against every fibre of my sensibility. Why we tolerate friendly relationships with regimes who impose this kind of stricture on women is beyond me and no amount of commercial profit can excuse this form of hypocrisy by our political and business leaders.
However, here in Canada we pride ourselves on an environment of freedom of expression and tolerance for benevolent diversity. If someone here likes to dress in any kind of different or odd manner, that is a choice. No one is forcing that individual to dress in the way that person has decided to. We see unusually different modes of costume at Pride Parades, fashion shows and among religious groups, for example. Whether it’s a wimple, gamp, turban, yarmulka or side curls, we see that these differences are harmless and simply culturally informed. I’m often baffled by what some golfers wear on the links, why some men choose to look scruffy in half-grown beards or why some women wear platform stilettos. But to get your knickers in a knot over some women who choose to wear the niqab seems pointless. If a woman is legally allowed to go bare chested down the street as men can, what business is it of mine if she so chooses to do so? In Canada these are personal choices, not dictates from some male authority. As for the PM’s pandering to the troglodytes in his party, a person going to a public swearing-in ceremony has already been approved for citizenship and been authenticated by a Canadian official. So please, let’s condemn the Saudi Wahhabists for their intolerant cruelty to women but let Canadian women enjoy the freedom of choice we so proudly espouse.
Meanwhile, would the politicians and the media kindly shut up on this subject?