The proposed ban of the niqab in Quebec as presented in Bill 94 is driven by two simultaneous political processes: (1) the state trying to imprint its primacy by overstepping the interests of the individual, and (2) political opportunism undertaken and exercised via petty tribalism/racialism by certain officials.
The whole business of banning the veil has been practiced by both Muslim and non-Muslim countries alike. In 2007, Tajikistan banned the veil. In the Soviet period, the Muslim-heritage Central Asian Soviet Socialist Republics insisted that women give up the veil. Turkey bans both the hijab and the niqab on public property. Numerous Western countries have either adopted the ban, or flirted with it. On the flip side, places like Iran insist that women cover themselves while in public. It is an old story which really only amounts to a pathetically finite ploy of inscribing the mark of the state onto the bodies of women.
Bill 94 is the latest chapter in a book that no one really reads anymore. It has nothing to do with the superfluous (and played out) discourse of East vs. West values, and the manifestation of some sort of ‘clash of civilizations’ scenario (Huntington seriously does not deserve this type of attention, especially in death). The evocation of “Enlightenment values”, gender equality, and social integration by the likes of Louise Beaudoin and Jean Charest are substantially irrelevant.
Why? Because the justifications and explanations of presenting Bill 94 have nothing to do with its underlying motivations. Issues of identity, security, and communication are completely minor in this case, as if women who do not wish to take off their niqabs represent such a cesspool of bureaucratic difficulty and political incorrectness as to warrant changing provincial and federal legislation. What a joke! It’s analogous to cancelling eight orders of McDonalds meals because you hate pickles in one of your Big Macs. Please don’t make Edward Said roll over in his grave for this farce; it’s not worth the time and energy!
In the same vein of engaging in illegal wiretapping, scrapping the presumption of innocence, and lying to initiate wars of aggression, banning the niqab is just another tiresome fear-mongering ploy to galvanize support from ill-informed and confused white nationalists. At a time of economic recession, when the common citizen is a single, thirty-year-old welfare mother with two kids, perhaps racial and tribal populism is the only loyalty people are willing to cling onto anymore.
SAY NO TO BILL 94! SAY NO TO RACISM!