University of Toronto Professor Clifford Orwin defends right of Muslim women to wear niqab while taking ceremony oath

Stephen Harper’s veiled attack on religious freedom

CLIFFORD ORWIN

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Last updated 

Clifford Orwin is a professor of political science at the University of Toronto and a distinguished fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

Stephen Harper is not just smart; he can be highly insightful. In 2011, for example, he established the Office of Religious Freedom in the Department of Foreign Affairs. He thus showed himself ahead of the curve on an issue whose importance has continued to grow. In that same year, unfortunately, his then minister of immigration, Jason Kenney, announced a domestic rule tending to religious suppression. Last week that ruling returned to haunt Mr. Harper.

ONTARIO: University chaplains resign over changes to office and Muslim prayer space

University chaplains resign over changes to office and Muslim prayer space

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Decision-making process called into question; University says student needs were their priority

Taylor Lasota // GAZETTE

This story was updated on Nov. 26 at 9:30 a.m.

Western’s longest-serving chaplain, along with four of his colleagues, has resigned in protest over the recently announced move of the Chaplains’ Services offices and a dedicated Muslim prayer space in the University Community Centre.

Rev. Michael Bechard, Western’s Roman Catholic chaplain, submitted his resignation and those of Janet Loo, Annette Donovan Panchaud, Melissa Page Nichols and Maija Wilson from the UWO Chaplains’ Association, to University President Amit Chakma on Friday.

The University announced last week that the current Muslim prayer room in University College would be moved along with the Chaplains’ Services offices to one space in the basement of the UCC. In addition, the current multi-faith space in the UCC will no longer be used.

Bechard’s concerns are two-fold. He explained that the principle behind having a dedicated space exclusively for one faith group is contrary to how the UWO Chaplains’ Association advocates for faith space on campus. Additionally, he claimed that the decision-making process was flawed and only included certain groups.

TORONTO: Stacy Joseph considers that nikab-wearing school bus driver poses safety risk

Is Canada moving in this direction?

Exclusive: Mother claims a niqab-wearing school bus driver poses a safety risk

 Tammie Sutherland and Toronto Staff

 Related Stories and Links

A Toronto mother claims a niqab-wearing school bus driver poses a safety risk because she’s not easily identifiable.

Stacy Joseph says she doesn’t think the niqab, a veil that some women in the Muslim community choose to wear to cover their faces, should be worn while driving her seven-year-old son or her four-year-old boy who has special needs.

“As a parent I’m concerned that I don’t know who is driving them,” Joseph told CityNews. “I know the other bus drivers, I know them by face, I know them by name so I can easily identify them.”

She says this is not about any particular person or religion, it’s about the safety of her children.

“It has nothing to do with religion or anything like that, it’s just a matter that her face is covered and if anybody’s face was covered I’d be concerned,” said Joseph.

Under the Ontario Human Rights code, bus drivers, like any other employee in the province, must be reasonably accommodated when it comes to their religious faith – and that includes allowing them to wear religious clothing.

While the niqab is sparking concern from Joseph, others in the community say, in their experience, it’s widely accepted.

Afia Baig has been wearing a niqab in Canada for the past 18 years and although she doesn’t know the bus driver personally, she says concerns of impersonation or identity issues can be quashed by just having regular conversations with the driver.

“I see where they’re coming from, but I think they have really nothing to fear about it,” said Baig. “I think its more the fear of what is behind, what the woman is going to be like, of who is going to be sitting behind the wheel, and when she gets to know her, I’m sure 100 per cent the fear will go away.”

Niqabs have sparked controversy in the past, with protests against a Quebec law that bans women wearing the veils from receiving or providing public service.

Religious rights and security rights also collided in 2010, with allegations Air Canada failed to visually verify the identity of women boarding a flight in Montreal.

(…)

ONTARIO: Woman allowed to drive while wearing nikab (2010)

Hat tip to A.D.

Youtube :posted by abuammararafat
Uploaded on 6 Apr 2010
A person is witnessed driving a Lincoln Navigator wearing an Islamic veil (Niqab). If this person were to commit a traffic violation, or worse, then how could they be positively identified later? For example, if a veiled driver were to run over a pedestrian, then flee, how could any witnesses positively identify that perpetrator, beyond any reasonable doubt?

People discussing the topic:
https://ca.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100126143350AAkeLkV

TORONTO: CBSA allows Hindu priests to avoid female officers

‘The request is offensive to me as a woman,’ Pearson airport border guard tells CBC

CBC News Posted: Aug 07, 2014 3:59 PM ET Last Updated: Aug 07, 2014 7:13 PM ET

Canada Border Services Agency managers at Toronto’s Pearson airport allowed a small group of Hindu priests to avoid screening by female border guards to comply with their religious beliefs, CBC News has learned.

A CBSA officer, outraged that such a request would be considered, spoke exclusively to CBC News about what happened at Pearson’s Terminal 3 on the evening of Monday, July 28. Fearing she could be disciplined for speaking out, the officer spoke on the condition that her name and identity be withheld.

PETITION: Reverse your decision that allows religious accommodation to trump gender equality

  • Petitioning York University

This petition will be delivered to:

Martin Singer, Dean
York University
Petition by Sheema Khan Ottawa, Canada