Monday, April 2, 2007

Freedom of Religion is based on personal choice

For all those self-proclaimed experts in Islam who insist that the Quran doesn't require women to wear the niqab (or the hijab) and that it's simply a personal choice and/or sign of oppression and thus shouldn't be allowed, such as Calgary crimonologist/sociology professor and board member of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Dr. Mahfooz Kanwar (who argued this narrow-minded position in the Calgary Sun) and Montreal Gazette and Globe and Mail letter writer Bill Parker of Val des Lac, Quebec:

To summarize up to this point, our Court’s past decisions and the basic principles underlying freedom of religion support the view that freedom of religion consists of the freedom to undertake practices and harbour beliefs, having a nexus with religion, in which an individual demonstrates he or she sincerely believes or is sincerely undertaking in order to connect with the divine or as a function of his or her spiritual faith, irrespective of whether a particular practice or belief is required by official religious dogma or is in conformity with the position of religious officials. (Emphasis added)

- The Supreme Court of Canada in Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem, [2004], which was quoted by the Court in the Kirpan case, Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite‑Bourgeoys, [2006]

Thus, if a woman chooses to wear the niqab or hijab, sincerely believing that she is required to do so by her faith, it is her right to do so and it falls under the protection of the Charter, regardless of whatever argument Kanwar, Parker, or any other "expert" or scholar presents to the contrary.

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