I am against all organized religions on principle. They’re various forms of tyranny that enslave the mind as well as the human spirit, although, admittedly, some do it more perniciously than others. This distaste, however, does not dissuade me from believing in the individual’s right to live whatever life he or she chooses to live, provided it doesn’t interfere in any way with the rights of others. Quebec’s odious legislation, passed this week as Bill C-62, and heralded as a move towards “religious neutrality”, is a monstrous affront that wantonly violates basic human rights as well as the Canadian Charter, which guarantees freedom of belief and worship. We are being told – dubiously, it’s true – that 87% of Quebeckers support the bill. This only proves, yet again, that, alas, the majority of citizens are too stupid to think for themselves and determine that this legislation specifically and solely targets Muslim women who wear the nikab or face-covering. There are only an estimated 150 of these women in Montreal, the city most affected. So are we passing legislation to persecute a mere 150 women, or are we actually sending a repugnant message to all Muslims: you aren’t welcome here? Obviously it is the latter (unless our legislators are bent on wasting their time and our tax dollars – a possibility that can never be entirely ruled out of any issue). Clearly there are situations – medical, legal – when a face must be visible. But such situations can be handled discreetly in private. Yet this shameful, backward, parochial and barbaric law denies the nikab-wearer the right to any public service, including transportation, and it denies these services without a shred of evidence to suggest that such denial is in the public interest. When has a woman in the nikab ever posed a problem on buses or trains? Never is the answer – unless you count the problems bigots and closed-minded imbeciles pose themselves everywhere all day long. Poor fools. A proposition offered with no evidence to back it ought not to merit any evidence for its refutation.
Most stultifying of all is the laughable claim for this bill of “religious neutrality”, when the only people it can possibly affect are Muslim women. One oaf on the radio moaned on about, “If I went to their country wearing a crucifix it wouldn’t be allowed, would it? When in Rome, you know…” For a start, I thought, this is their country now; and it would depend on which one their country was, wouldn’t it? In a few of them you’d be wearing a burka too, so the crucifix would be irrelevant. And we’re not in Rome (where the victims of sexual harassment are currently being blamed for their own rape or misfortune). As for the ban on face-covering in general – which the law alleges it concerns – is it to include hockey goalies, nuns, Halloween disguises, and any protection from minus 30 degrees Centigrade? And religious neutrality? It’s not as if Montreal doesn’t flaunt a fantastically enormous cross on the summit of its mount, is it? If 87% of the population really does approve of this legislation and feel it’s necessary if not vital, then it doesn’t augur well for Quebec sovereignty, does it? Who would want to live in a nation hollering and puking its way back into the 14th century? Perhaps the 13% of us still educated enough to be egalitarian and open-minded can found a Quebe Rationale? This is a national disgrace, as it ought to be, and those Quebeckers too moronic to feel the sting of shame should ask themselves why this is, and also why they are behaving exactly like the Nazi Party they once contentedly housed (under the aegis of Adrien Arcand), until a little problem called the Second World War made it suddenly untenable. Plus ca change…
Paul William Roberts