Anglican Samizdat

April 14, 2010

Anglican Diocese of Montreal supports the burka

Filed under: Diocese of Montreal — David Jenkins @ 11:15 pm
Tags: , , ,

A Canadian Muslim, Tarek Fatah, agrees with the banning of burkas in Quebec government offices, schools, and other publicly funded institutions. He cites numerous reasons; this is among them:

I have no reservation in stating categorically that the burka is not just a piece of clothing, but is a symbol of Islamofacism and a rejection of the West as well as our cherished value of gender equality. The cruel reality is the burka castigates women as a source of evil (A’wra), condemning them to a life of isolation away from the gaze of men. Once veiled, they are marginalized, denied equality and made subservient to men. This leads to economic dependency, intimidation, violence and emotional abuse. Under the veil, the woman has no civic or secular identity. Her rights to make civic and political decisions are controlled and usurped by men, and by extension the hierarchy of the organized groups.

None of this deters Anglican Bishop of Montreal Barry Clarke though, who, after plumbing the depths of his Islamic savoir-faire, announced support for the burka:

MONTREAL – A bill that would bar a woman wearing a face veil from receiving government services is an attack on women’s rights in the guise of defending equality of the sexes, say the Anglican diocese of Montreal and the Simone de Beauvoir Institute.

In a statement approved Monday night by local clergy and Bishop Barry Clarke, the diocese said the bill erodes freedom of religion guaranteed under the Quebec and Canadian human-rights charters.

The local church body added that Bill 94 also unfairly targets women, since there are no men who wear the niqab, a veil with slits for the eyes worn by a small minority of Muslim women in Quebec.

“Obliging women to choose between the free exercise of their Charter right to freedom of religion, and the exercise of their rights to participate in society is odious,” the diocese said.

Also undeterred was the Simone de Beauvoir institute which has as its mission:

The Institute strives to stimulate the investigation, understanding and communication of the historical and contemporary roles of women in society, and to encourage women to develop their full creative potential.

There’s nothing that develops a woman’s creative potential quite as effectively as wearing a burka.



  1. – I agree with the sentiment of your position, here, but this is a difficult one, is it not? What about the many cases of people in the UK being legally banned from wearing crosses – do you not oppose that? Are those cases not infringement of rights to religious freedom? And if you would allow wearing of crosses, but ban burkas … Or, maybe support the banning of both (as is the inclination (if not the legal situation …?) in secularist France …? A small cross is a world away from a full veil, in practice … but in terms of basic religious rights …?

    Comment by John Thomas — April 15, 2010 @ 8:13 am

  2. John,

    I think a burka is something worn for the benefit of Muslim men, not something freely chosen by women and, as Tarek Fatah says, is a symbol of oppression. In that regard, and to the extent it prevents normal human interaction, it conflicts with Western values so banning it in publicly funded institutions is not unreasonable. I am not against wearing the burka because it is a symbol of Islam (many would argue that it isn’t).

    Wearing a cross is quite different: it is something freely chosen by the wearer and doesn’t interfere with social interaction as covering the face does; many of the efforts to ban the wearing of a cross in the UK do seem to be motivated by an anti-Christian bias.

    Comment by David — April 15, 2010 @ 9:01 am

  3. I have to wonder why the Anlgican Diocese of Montreal is so concerned about Muslim rights when Christains (including Anglicans) are being persecuted (and in some parts of the world murdered). Perhaps it has something to do with one of those five marks of faith (social justice).

    Comment by AMPisAnglican — April 15, 2010 @ 11:22 am

  4. David (3) you say “I think …” – no doubt you do (and I would agree with you; and Tarek Fatah clearly agrees also) – But our views are not going to change anything. Do the women wear the full veil because men make them, and do they feel oppressed? We may think so, and some of the women no doubt do too – but maybe some others see it as a means to assert themselves and their community/beliefs (as minorities often do). I’ve seen young veiled women, on TV, barracking police, during riots here in Britain, in “defence” (promotion) of their “cause”, Islam; they, at least, do not feel themselves to be oppressed. If we were to tell them they are oppressed, they would barrack us!

    Comment by John Thomas — April 16, 2010 @ 7:09 am

  5. John (4)
    Your post brings to mind something of an old (and now very rare) Christian tradition. Women wearing hats in Church. There is a passage in the Holy Bible (I will have to find it later) which states something about it being proper for women to have their heads covered in Church. I remember my Nana always (and I mean ALWAYS) wearing a hat in Church. Not because any man told her too, and not becasue she was being oppressed. She did so as an act of humble Worship and obedience to God. Sure it was sexist to have only women do this. But instead of seeing it as discrimination (in a negative way) she saw it as a gift from God. It was something that God gave to only women, and she wore her hat with humility and honour.

    Comment by AMPisAnglican — April 16, 2010 @ 8:30 am

  6. AMPisAnglican (#5), my wife owns about 15 hats and, although she hasn’t worn them much recently, in some of the previous churches we attended she was known as the hat lady. She wore them more for fashion than because of the biblical injunction, however. 😉

    At an independant Bible church we attended in the late 80s – that had strong Plymouth Brethern roots – most of the women wore head coverings. They probably still do.

    Comment by Warren — April 16, 2010 @ 10:04 am

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