The Canadian Independent

Don’t ban the hijab, niqab, or the burka…

…but don’t bend over backwards to accomodate them either.

The decision to allow an Egyptian-born woman dressed in a face-covering niqab to attend a government-funded French class was “stupid,” says a stalwart of Quebec’s sticky debate over reasonable accommodation.

André Drouin, a former city councillor from the town of Hérouxville and author of a controversial 2007 code of conduct for newcomers, made the comments Saturday after giving a speech in Ottawa.

They come as Quebec’s Human Rights Commission considers a complaint lodged by the Montreal woman after she was ordered to uncover her face if she wanted to continue attending the class.

This is a bit absurd. I believe the standard for when government should act, or not act, is very simple; government should act to prevent others from violating the rights of others, or to resolve the disputes that follow thereafter. In the story above, the woman’s wearing of the niqab really can’t have been detrimental to whether or not she could learn french. She could still speak, hear, read and write.

Whether or not a woman chooses to wear a hijab, niqab or a burka is a matter of personal choice. Shes not violating anybody elses rights by choosing to wear that kind of clothing, so why should we actively violate hers by forcing her to wear something we believe is acceptable?

However, it is a choice. And sometimes, choices should have natural consequences. You shouldn’t be able to get a drivers license without a photograph due to a niqab or a burka. When you make the choice to wear a concealing outfit, you forfeit the ability to become licensed with photo ID.

I don’t think the job for government is to intervene to enforce some rigid cultural standard, be that Christian, Muslim, or secular. The job for government is to protect peoples rights so they can be free to pursue their own values as long as they keep their hands to themselves. Even if those values lead them to wear sheets.

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