Thursday, October 8, 2009

Freedom of Religion Means Just That

The Mulsim Canadian Congress wants Canada to ban the burka (and the niqab and masks, in general).  They claim (no doubt correctly) that the wearing of a burka is regularly forced up women by men.  According to The Ottawa Citizen, they claim that wearing a burka is not protected by freedom of religion.

I am sympathetic.  The burka is a tool of oppression.  It can rob women of their identity, their liberty and their sense of self worth.  I am confident that many who "choose" to sport a burka are suffering from a false conciousness, groomed to be submissive and assuming the choices of others as their own.  I hate seeing women wear burkas and I find a lot of the justifications offensive.  I will be happy if the world is one day rid of this scourge.

None of that matters, though.  Wearing a burka is protected by freedom of religion.  It is a matter of basic personal liberty.  My objections to burkas and the objections of the Muslim Canadian Congress are immaterial.  The government has no place deciding what personal religious expressions are permissible.  As much as I am horrified by burkas, I am also horrified by the notion that wearing burkas might not be protected by the Charter.

(P.S. If you want to read a superb takedown of a similar initiative, read Julian Sanchez.)

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