Niqab and citizenship

  The issue of whether or not the wearing of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies has been raised; I personally disagree with the pwearing of niqab in Canada, particularly during the citizenship ceremony, and for the most part tend to consider it a conflagulated non-issue; there are less than seven individual cases per year and one would imagine that the sheer audacity of wearing niqab at one’s citizenship ceremony would put them immediately on the terror watch list.

However, as a nonverbal autistic woman with flaming red hair and sensitive skin, I’ve worn full veils and headscarves; so long as I did, I was granted safe passage in the ghetto.

My experiences in the ghetto should not be dismissed abruptly. I lived for ten years in a place full of immigrants near a major inner city hospital. I frequently found myself asking my new neighbours if “it is Salaam or Sholem?” Eye contact and body language were and are very important to me.

One interesting point regarding niqab no one has made is where we draw the line between cultural norm, superstition, and faith.

The niqab is primarily a cultural tradition created by a climate of fear spread by an intolerant governing body – the Taliban. Prior to their ascent to power, women generally only wore traditional headscarves.

Wearing headscarves is custom in all Abrahamic religious factions to identify women who are marriageable. It is one of the few common rights of women across all financial domains. In many countries it is deemed a sign of respect for me in particular to cover my hair when in public if I am married.  

Another custom I became familiar with, and carried out myself, was to wear a poppy every day to thank the veteran population for the right to wear my veil.

This is the first time I’ve seen photos of myself like this. 

It’s interesting to see; life behind the veil is one of observation.

Because of my autism and PTS, my eyes are my primary method of intimate conversation and I wear sunglasses indoors. The veil is in a similar vein.

Superstitious models say that the unfounded belief in outcomes being manipulated as a consequence of magical thinking evoked by fear create unhealthy mental conditions like obsession. This whole niqab thing is for me symbolic of Canada’s obsession with conformative behaviour.

As an aside, to deflect the Evil Eye, many cultures wear red silk bracelets on the left side, or cross themselves in response to fear evoked responses.

The niqab is as a facial covering,  a sign of repression borne of the fascination, fear, and obsession the Taliban have of the sensual expression of femininity. Those who wear it are demonstrating what fear looks like as told by eyes. And the truly unfortunate part is that because of the fact that it encourages the wearer to communicate only with their eyes really says a great deal about the cultural challenges created by the niqab.

My Chemical Romance – Teenagers

Particularly interesting is that it appears to largely be veterans who truly care about this issue and are defending the wearing of the niqab or at least, discussing it as a social norm.

My Chemical Romance – The Black Parade
The problem of the niqab is that the women who wear it believe they have a reason to fear not wearing it. It is a byproduct of terror. When the Taliban seized control and enacted sharia law, professional women wearing makeup and suit dresses were hauled off the street on the way to work and beaten with car antennaes by roving gangs.

Can you really promise the woman who wears one with that as its history freedom and safety? Particularly when we just put Canadian national security at risk to pass a terror bill which makes no sense? 

Can you truly promise her that she is safe to show her face, when the origin of the term “to cut ones nose off to spite their face” has the gruesome origin of being punishment for noble born women? Where girls lose their fingers for learning and women have acid attacks from their husbands? 

I wish I could. But I can’t. So while the niqab may be a cultural reference point to most, and a curious religious symbol to others, for me it is the reminder that freedom is relative.

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