Me too, but I feel I have to put my oar in the water on this issue.
I’ll admit my prejudice right up front. I do not like either the niqab or the burqa. Both make me feel extremely uncomfortable, but not for the usual reasons being trotted out about misogynistic religious/tribal practices or a panicky fear of terrorism. No, they make me uncomfortable because I want to see who I am dealing with – and eyes only, or just a disembodied voice in the case of the burqa, are not how I want to interact with my fellow citizens.
But lots of things people do or wear make me uncomfortable. Exposed boxers and pants hanging off some wannabe punk’s thighs make me uncomfortable. Facial tattoos and nose piercings make me uncomfortable. The ‘average’ Walmartian makes me uncomfortable. It’s a long list. However – and this is what’s important – simply being uncomfortable does not give me the right to dictate how any of those people choose to present themselves to society. Their choices do not affect me, personally, in any way whatsoever.
That’s why Harper making this an election issue by conflating the niqab with terrorism in order to enrage the base is so outrageous. A small handful of women wearing niqabs in a country of 36 million does not and will not make the slightest difference in any Canadian’s life - except to make those women convenient targets for the misfits in our midst who understand Harper’s vilification of their dress as being permission to physically and/or verbally attack them. And when that inevitably happens, what does Harper do? He blames the opposition and the media.
With his handling of this issue, Stephen Harper has engaged in a despicable and cowardly act. Hopefully he will be suitably rewarded come October 19.