`Canada – Niqab – “There Are No Rules”: A Look at the Niqab & Other Islamic Coverings in Canada
Date: November 6, 2015
Canada – Niqab – “There Are No Rules”: A Look at the Niqab & Other Islamic Coverings in Canada
Author: Vjosa Isai – October 7, 2015 – Source: National Post
The niqab has become a defining issue of the 2015 federal election, with the Conservatives in favour of limiting its use in certain public circumstances, and the NDP and Liberals coming out strongly against such restrictions. The National Post’s Vjosa Isai offers nine things you should know about niqabs and other forms of Islamic dress in Canada:
- There are no hard numbers of how many Canadian women wear niqabs, hijabs or other Islamic garb. The provinces with the largest number of Muslim women are Ontario (288,025), Quebec (114,615), and Alberta (54,435), according to Statistics Canada’s 2011 household survey.
- There are 8,495 Muslim women working in Canadian public administration positions. Stephen Harper’s musings about a ban on niqabs in the civil service would affect at best a small number of bureaucrats. Statistics from 2011 show only 1.8 per cent of 257,000 federal employees are Muslim women, and only a small subset of them is likely to wear face coverings.
- Bill 62, introduced by Quebec’s Liberal government in June, bans religious face-coverings such as the niqab, both for employees giving public services or anyone receiving them.
- Alia Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, says Islamic modesty is open to a wide range of interpretation. “There is a lot of controversy amongst Muslims about it (niqab), because every culture of Muslims has a different interpretation about what is modest and what should be, or should not be, covered.’’
- Although the term hijab means ‘‘barrier’’ in Arabic, it is also attributed to the overall concept of modesty in Islam, which includes dress and behaviour for men and women. The minimum area of the male body to be covered by loose clothing is between the navel and the knee.
- Different regions or cultures have adopted variations of the covering. In places like Iran, women wear a chador, which is a cloak-like garment that also covers the forehead and has no hand openings or clasps. The burqa — a niqab with a grille added on to hide the eyes — is traditionally worn by Pashtun women in Afghanistan. Women can also style the hijab in different ways based on preference, like wrapping it on their head in a turban or draping it around their neck and shoulders.
- When it comes to how to wear Islamic dress, Hogben said ‘‘there are no rules. Everybody wears whatever they think is modest for them. And sometimes I think it’s culturally appropriate or not appropriate.’’
- In a 2014 study of women in niqab by the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, none of 81 participants surveyed said they had been forced to wear it.
9. In practice, Muslim women wear Islamic dress only around men that they are technically eligible to marry. They do not have to observe it around men like brothers, their fathers, uncles, etc. or young children and other women.
Canadian Council of Muslim Women – CCMW