‘Fifty years of living in Canada. I’ve never seen a government stoop to such levels.’
That from Globe and Mail contributor Sheema Khan in response to Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s recent comments that his government will examine banning face-coverings for public servants.
Khan is a Canadian hockey mom, has a PhD in Physics from Harvard, writes a monthly column in the Globe & Mail, and wears a hijab.
Her recent column in the Globe and Mail is titled “Fifty years in Canada, and now I feel like a second-class citizen.” She spoke with Jon McComb on his show this morning.
Khan started off the interview by clarifying that she still thinks Canadians are an open people, but that she has problems with the current Conservative leadership and its election campaign.
“[It} has sought to politicize highly charged [and] highly emotional issues, at the expense of Canadian Muslims.”
Government’s reasoning for the niqab ban is ‘laughable’
The government often defends their stance against the niqab by saying they are opposed to practices that oppress women.
To that, Khan questions the government speaking on her behalf, or on the behalf of any other women.
“I have some friends who wear it, and some of them wear it in opposition to what their husbands and their families say. A lot of them have family members who don’t want them to wear it, so I think it’s very facile to assume that they must be oppressed.”
Real issue in Canada is violence against women
When asked if she knows of any women who are oppressed, she said she doesn’t personally know of anyone forced to wear a headcovering, but says she had a friend in universityu who wanted to wear the hijab, and her father physically beat her to prevent her from doing so.
“Again, it’s an issue of control and power. This isn’t something which is akin to any particular religion or culture. We have a problem with violence against women in this country, and to somehow say … or single out a particular group…it’s racist. If anything it diminishes the degree to which we have to address violence against women, period.”
Spurring people to take sides?
In regards to the possibility of a ban on the niqab for women who work in the civil service, Khan calls it another instance of the Prime Minister playing wedge politics.
“Just judging by the fact that this whole niqab issue at the citizenship ceremony concerns two women out of 680,000, just makes me wonder whether it’s a real issue.”