Don Macpherson: The Couillard government’s anti-niqab bill gets worse 

Good pointed commentary:

Batman will not sit in the Quebec National Assembly.

This would be the effect of one of the amendments to the Couillard government’s proposed anti-niqab legislation announced this week. Bill 62, targeting Muslim women who wear facial veils, would ban giving or receiving public services with the face concealed. The amendment would extend the ban to MNAs, municipal councillors and school commissioners.

That Quebecers would choose a masked candidate to represent them is almost as hypothetical as the fictional cowled crusader leaving Gotham City for this province, acquiring citizenship, and running for office here on his record as a crimefighter. But then so was the possibility of a niqabi seeking employment in a public service.

Still, one can’t be too careful. That appears to be the thinking of the “bare-face” bill’s sponsor, Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée, to the extent she has thought about the bill at all.

Another of her proposed amendments would extend the original ban from the provincial public services to municipal ones, and to public transit. When a reporter asked Vallée the reasonable question of whether this would stop a woman wearing a veil from taking the bus, the minister was unwilling, or perhaps unable, to answer.

Her amendments would make what was already a bad bill even worse.

Bill 62 stigmatizes the tiny number of Muslim women in Quebec who wear facial veils. It encourages their persecution, like the harassment of women wearing Muslim head scarves during the debate on the former Parti Québécois government’s ill-fated “charter of values.”

It would enshrine in legislation the hypocrisy of Quebec’s “Catho-laïcité,” or Catho-secularism. One of Vallée’s amendments pretends that Quebec’s public institutions are founded on the separation of church and state, while the bill would preserve the crucifix placed in the Assembly to symbolize an alliance between the two.

The government pretends that the ban on face coverings in general does not discriminate on religious grounds. But its intent is given away by the fact that the ban is contained in a bill to restrict religious accommodations.

And the bill is useless, not only because it addresses imaginary problems, but also because its guidelines for handling accommodation requests are so general.

Not only is the bill bad policy, it’s bad politics, another demonstration of the sheer political stupidity of the Couillard Liberals.

It won’t achieve its political objective of settling the accommodations issue once and for all before the general election due by October 2018. The Liberals’ relatively feeble entry in the competition to defend the majority against the undesirables in their midst doesn’t go nearly far enough to satisfy the nationalist opposition parties.

It is nevertheless useful to them. Since it was presented by Quebec’s most diverse and least nationalist party, it gives political legitimacy to the restriction of minority rights.

Bill 62 is the Couillard government’s version of Bill 22, adopted in 1974 by Robert Bourassa’s Liberal government. As the first Quebec legislation restricting minority language rights, Bill 22 enabled the succeeding PQ government’s more draconian Bill 101.

Originally, Premier Philippe Couillard intended to get the accommodations debate over with at the beginning of his term. Instead, his government squandered its time, and begins the pre-election year fighting on ground favouring its adversaries.

Couillard continues to entrust that fight to a minister who has already shown she’s not up to it. Listening to Vallée’s poorly prepared news conference on her amendments this week was like watching somebody juggling blindfolded with running chainsaws.

The PQ and the Coalition Avenir Québec party, vying for position as the leading alternative to the Liberals in the election, can be expected to prolong the debate on the bill in the Assembly as much as possible.

And on his other side, Couillard was forced to back Vallée against Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who indicated the province’s metropolis will defy her legislation.

Source: Don Macpherson: The Couillard government’s anti-niqab bill gets worse | Montreal Gazette

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Niqabs make witnesses more truthful? Not so fast, says critique of landmark Canadian study 

Strikes me as a valid critique but look forward to debate and further research:

A team of researchers schooled in deception has cast doubt on a landmark Canadian study which found that the wearing of niqabs actually improves courtroom truth-telling.

A critique of the study published this week claimed there were so many “limitations” to the niqab study that any move by the Canadian justice system to adopt its findings would be “naıve and misinformed” and could cause “irremediable harm to the judicial system.”

“The benefits of paying less attention to witnesses’ and lawyers’ facial expressions are neither theoretical nor empirically grounded arguments,” read the critique, published in Psychiatry, Psychology and Law and written by Vincent Denault, a lawyer and co-director of the Montreal-based Center for Studies in Nonverbal Communication Sciences.

Last year, a study out of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology directly challenged Canada’s Supreme Court ban on witnesses testifying while wearing a niqab.

The study, published in the journal of the American Psychological Association, had women don niqabs and tell lies while being questioned on camera. Then, volunteers were asked to judge the women’s truthfulness as compared to liars who weren’t wearing veils.

The results were that the veiled women were less likely to get away with lying.

“People were focusing on what the women are saying, rather than what they look like,” lead researcher Amy-May Leach told the National Post in July.

Most notably, Leach added at the time that “the courts were incorrect.”

The critique by Denault, which was co-written with deception psychologists in France and the U.K., criticized Leach’s methodology, asserting that the degree of truth detection may not have been as dramatic as depicted.

“The experimental setting improved the lie detection ability of the participants above chance, but the improvement is very weak,” wrote Denault in an email to the National Post.

But the main thrust of the paper was how the Leach study did not accurately replicate courtroom conditions.

For one thing, liars in the study were given only two minutes to craft false testimony, while under Canadian law a witness can practise their testimony for months.

The liars were asked “open-ended questions” rather than having to cope with the leading questions that would have been posed in a real cross-examination.

The women in Leach’s study were cast as impartial witnesses to a crime, when in reality most courtroom lying comes from either plaintiffs or defendants.

And the study only tested how a visible face affected truth-telling. “The function of witnesses’ and lawyers’ facial expressions goes well beyond the issue of lie detection,” it read.

Source: Niqabs make witnesses more truthful? Not so fast, says critique of landmark Canadian study | National Post

Bowing to public pressure, Merkel calls for partial burka ban in Germany

Similar approach to Quebec’s law 62 focussing on the public sector. Hard to disagree with the sentiment that parallel societies are generally undesirable, whatever the religion, ethnicity or ideology from an integration and social cohesion/inclusion perspective. However, one can question whether a ban is the appropriate response, or only requiring the face to be revealed for identity authentication (e.g., identity cards, airport security):

For months, as the Western political establishment shook around her, German Chancellor Angela Merkel remained a stolid and increasingly lonely champion of liberal values. But on Tuesday, she joined those chipping at the idea of “live and let live” liberalism, embracing a populist call for a partial ban on the head-to-toe burka.

The proposed ban comes less than three weeks after Ms. Merkel announced she would seek a fourth term as Chancellor in parliamentary elections expected next September. It also comes days after Italian voters forced the resignation of their prime minister, and in the wake of both Donald Trump’s shocking run to the White House, and Britain’s unexpected vote to leave the European Union.

Speaking Tuesday to a conference of her centre-right Christian Democratic Union – which faces a threat on its right flank from the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (also known by its German acronym, AfD) – Ms. Merkel took aim at “parallel societies” that she said were forming in Germany. Borrowing from the rhetoric of the AfD and other populist parties on the rise around the continent, she said the full-face veil “should be banned wherever it is legally possible.”

“We do not want any parallel societies, and where they exist we have to tackle them,” she said to loud applause from party delegates gathered in the city of Essen. She specifically named sharia, an Islamic legal code based on a strict interpretation of the Koran. “Our laws have priority over honour codes, tribal and family rules, and over sharia. That has to be expressed very clearly.”

Ms. Merkel – who was re-elected as the CDU leader on Tuesday with just under 90-per-cent support – said the full-face veil inhibited “inter-human communication” and “was not appropriate” in Germany.

The remarks were a move away from the role many had hoped to see Ms. Merkel assume following Mr. Trump’s election win.

On a recent trip to Berlin, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama hailed the German Chancellor as his “closest international partner,” leading to talk Ms. Merkel would – by default – become the voice and de facto leader of Western liberals.

The burka-ban proposal is a reminder that Ms. Merkel has always been a pragmatist first.

In reality, only a small minority of the estimated five million Muslims living in Germany wear the full burka. (A 2008 government-funded study found 28 per cent of German Muslims wore some kind of head covering; that figure includes those who wear the hijab, the much more common headscarf that covers the hair but not the face).

The proposed ban would likely only apply to schools, courts and other government buildings, as any wider restriction would seem to violate the country’s constitution.

The true aim of Ms. Merkel’s move against the burka is to soothe public anger over her decision last year to welcome into Germany hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries. The country has struggled – both culturally and bureaucratically – to process the new arrivals.

Source: Bowing to public pressure, Merkel calls for partial burka ban in Germany – The Globe and Mail

Dutch lower house approves limited ban on burqas, niqabs

Somewhat more restrictive than Quebec’s Bill 62 given that it also covers public transport:

Lawmakers in the lower house of the Dutch parliament on Tuesday approved a limited ban on “face-covering clothing” including Islamic veils and robes such as the burqa and niqab.

The legislation, approved by a large majority in the 150-seat lower house, must now be approved by the upper house of parliament before it can be signed into law.

In a text message to The Associated Press, anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders called the limited ban, “a step in the right direction” and said he will push for a full burqa ban if his Freedom Party wins elections in March.

Studies suggest that only a few hundred women in the Netherlands wear niqabs or full-face burqas, but successive governments have attempted to ban the garments, following the example of European countries such as France and Belgium.

The Dutch proposal, described by the government as “religion-neutral,” does not go as far as the complete bans in those countries. It applies on public transport and in education institutions, health institutions such as hospitals, and government buildings.

In a debate last week that paved the way for Tuesday’s swift vote, Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk acknowledged that debate about the burqa had played a major role in the ban. But Plasterk, who is from the centre-left Labor Party, said that in a free country like the Netherlands people should be allowed to appear in public with their faces covered, if they want to, but that in government buildings, schools and hospitals people need to be able to look each other in the face.

The maximum fine for breaching the ban, which also covers ski masks and full-face helmets, is just over 400 euros ($425).

Source: Dutch lower house approves limited ban on burqas, niqabs – The Globe and Mail

Douglas Todd: Canadians far from resolving not-so-minor niqab issue

More on the niqab in the aftermath of Douglas Todd’s interview with Zunera Ishaq, highlighting some of her apparent contradictions and inconsistencies.

One aspect missing from these discussions is a comparison with the traditionalists or the fundamentalists within other faiths, and how their values are or are not compatible with what we think are Canadian values:

SFU social policy specialist John Richards points out Ishaq’s hearing never got to the Charter of Rights arguments. It’s another indication the debate is not over.

The niqab raises the question Quebec’s noted Taylor-Bouchard commission attempted to answer on the limits of tolerance, which is: How far should Canadians go to “reasonably accommodate” certain cultural practices?

Appropriately, UBC political scientist emeritus Philip Resnick distinguishes Canada’s niqab debate from the August controversy over some French cities banning the full-body “burkini” from beaches.

“The burkini debate arose because emotions were very raw in the aftermath of the Muslim terrorist attack on Nice on Bastille Day. I think there is no more reason to deny women the right to wear a flowing garment when swimming than to deny them a bikini or string swimming suit.”

But Resnick urges Canadians to “avoid tut-tutting and moralizing” over Europeans’ generally more restrictive response to the niqab. “I wonder how quickly Canadian tolerance would be replaced by fear if we had to deal with an intransigent Islamist contingent in our midst?”

I originally intended to write just one column on the far-reaching niqab debate. But plans changed last week when Ishaq, after many earlier calls to her family’s Mississauga residence, picked up the phone and answered some fresh questions.

In addition to emphasizing her “choice” to cover her face, Ishaq said she believes in strict segregation of the sexes, opposes homosexuality and abortion, believes women are “unclean” during menstruation and is convinced Muslims must obey Islamic commands.

…Questions too ‘gentle’

Richards, who travels frequently to South Asia for research, appreciated my exploration into Ishaq’s paradoxical worldview, but also suggested I’d been “gentle.”

I could have asked Ishaq about “apostasy,” which refers to the rejection of a religion, said Richards.

A Pew Research poll found 75 per cent of Pakistanis believe a person should be executed for apostasy.

Many people in Pakistan, the fifth largest source of immigrants to Canada, also believe women must wear niqabs. And hundreds of Pakistani women are killed each year in “honour killings.”

Given the global geo-political issues, I could also have been more curious when Ishaq (who is now on a family trip in Pakistan) said “no comment” in regards to Saudi Arabia’s pressure on women to wear full-length burkas and niqabs.

Even though Ishaq says she is devoted to the supreme value of “choice,” it was unusual that she passed up the chance to criticize an Islamic government that removes women’s choice and requires them to dress a certain way.

Ishaq is affiliated with several politicized Muslim organizations, including the Hanafi school of thought, which believes apostasy is a sin punishable by death, according to the Federal Court and Richards.

Canadian Muslim writer Tarek Fetah has also shown Ishaq has connections with Jamaat-e-Islami and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), which are part of the ultraconservative Salafist movement.

Given Ishaq’s apparent contradictions, Toronto blogger Eiynah says “framing the niqab as some sort of feminist tool of bodily autonomy is the most ludicrous, topsy-turvy thing I’d ever heard of.”

Similarly, Resnick, who specializes in anglophone and francophone cultures, finds it “extraordinary” that many secular left-wing people defend the niqab.

“Ultimately, the issue goes back to the one the Bouchard-Taylor commission in Quebec sought to tackle — what constitutes reasonable accommodation?” Resnick says.

“The niqab offends Canadian sensibilities in a way that the head scarf does not. It reminds us there are countries where women cannot show their faces in public. It represents the most backward-looking and repressive feature of Salafist ideology.

“At the minimum I would agree with those who would bar the wearing of a niqab at any citizenship ceremony. Nor would I see it as acceptable garb for anyone working in the public sector and therefore having to serve a much more diverse Canadian public.”

Like Swedes, political scientists say, Canadians tend to believe in their exceptionalism.

“Many Canadians, in their refusal to take tougher positions on accommodation and integration of immigrants, like to think of themselves as exceptionally virtuous, unlike the wicked Americans or Europeans. But are we?” asks Resnick.

“Quebecois are franker in this regard than English Canadians, in regards to both language and the niqab, since their sense of cultural identity is more clearly on the line than our own.

“But I wonder how well Canadian smugness would survive a serious challenge to our core values, of the type that radical Islamism represents in Europe.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Canadians far from resolving not-so-minor niqab issue | Vancouver Sun

Douglas Todd: Niqabs: The paradoxical world of Zunera Ishaq

Interesting interview with Zunera Ishaq, the woman at the heart of the niqab citizenship controversy:

How did it come to pass that the so-called “liberal” media, and prominent Canadian feminists, championed the 29-year-old suburban Toronto woman who insisted on wearing in a civil ceremony one of the world’s most provoking symbols of patriarchy?

What background was missing from the debate over the niqab?

I was able to obtain Ishaq’s responses to some of these questions this week.

Ishaq told me she respects Mulcair and Trudeau for defending her niqab, and for standing for multicultural “choice” and tolerance.

She went out of her way to say she also respects Harper, “who created all the mess. He was following his conscience.”

Our telephone conversation revealed a woman who inhabits a world of paradoxes, which the Oxford Dictionary defines as “seemingly absurd or self-contradictory propositions.”

On one hand, the famous 29-year-old Sunni Muslim sounded libertarian and morally relativistic, emphasizing “every person is free to live in a way in which he or she feels is right.”

On the other hand she also seems the opposite. She is ultraconservative on segregation of the sexes, homosexuality, abortion, obeying Islamic commands and women being “unclean” during menstruation.

As niqabs become more common in Canada — a regular sight on campuses, including the University of B.C. — it’s worth understanding the apparent contradictions associated with defending this stark symbol of gender inequality.

Since Ishaq was often portrayed as standing up for all Muslim women, it’s important to note hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world, and the majority of the 1.1 million Muslims in Canada, disapprove of the niqab.

Ishaq said she respects the many Muslims who disagree with her. That includes the imam at another Metro Toronto mosque who, not knowing she was present, criticized her for insisting on wearing the niqab.

Women rarely wear the niqab in most Muslim-majority countries, where scarves covering the hair or no headdress are more common. Niqabs have been banned in some Muslim countries, because they were used in crimes and terrorist attacks.

Ishaq’s religiously torn homeland of Pakistan, which she and her family were preparing this week to visit, is one of the few countries where Pew Research found support for the niqab, with 32 per cent saying women should cover their faces.

Only a few hardline Muslim leaders, including in Saudi Arabia, require women to wear long black abayas and press for them to cover their faces.

“Saudi Arabia has chosen that law,” Ishaq said, in one of repeated references to the supreme value she places on “choice,” including at the political level.

“I would not say that it’s wrong. I would not say it’s exactly right in Islam. So I would not like to comment.”

She agreed Islamic tradition advocates only personal “modesty.” And she acknowledged nothing in the Qur’an mandates women covering their faces.

“I do not feel that Muslim women who do not wear the niqab are lesser than me. What I’ve done is my choice, another opinion.”

Ishaq also called homosexualitya “choice,” which goes against the predominant understanding among gays and lesbians.

“Being a Muslim, it’s my view that homosexuality is not the right thing. But I have to tolerate it, without discrimination and without hatred. I have no issues with people who are homosexual. That’s their choice. But I definitely do not think it’s right.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Niqabs: The paradoxical world of Zunera Ishaq | Vancouver Sun

Le débat sur la laïcité de l’État reprend le dessus

The Couillard government continues to press for a narrow approach (face covering as in niqab and burqa) while the opposition parties press for a broader approach, ranging from Bouchard-Taylor’s ban on religious symbols for persons in authority (e.g., police, judges) to the broader ban of the previous Quebec Values Charter:

Après avoir été ravivé par les candidats à la direction du Parti québécois, le débat sur la laïcité de l’État refait surface à l’Assemblée nationale. L’étude du projet de Loi favorisant le respect de la neutralité religieuse de l’État, inscrit au feuilleton depuis plus de 15 mois, démarrera à brève échéance, a promis le leader parlementaire libéral, Jean-Marc Fournier, lundi.

« Il y a plusieurs autres projets de lois aussi. Mais on veut avancer celui-là », a-t-il dit à quelques heures de la reprise des travaux à l’Assemblée nationale.

En plus d’établir les « conditions » d’attribution des « accommodements pour un motif religieux » par l’État, le projet de loi 62 oblige les employés du secteur public à exercer leurs fonctions à visage découvert, tout comme les personnes qui font appel à leurs services. « Discutons et votons ! », a lancé M. Fournier, se disant convaincu que l’obligation du « visage découvert » prévue dans le projet de loi 62 fait « consensus »au sein de la classe politique.

Pas si vite, ont tour à tour rétorqué les partis d’opposition. Le Parti québécois et la Coalition avenir Québec se sont empressés de demander au gouvernement de frapper d’un interdit le tchador, et ce, au même titre que le niqab et la burqa, qui voilent le visage laissant apparaître une fente ou un grillage pour les yeux. « Il y a un consensus aussi sur [l’interdiction du] tchador. Si on marche par consensus, on peut avancer jusque-là », a fait valoir la députée péquiste Agnès Maltais.

« Avec le projet de loi 62, le gouvernement libéral va permettre aux fonctionnaires de l’État de travailler en tchador. À la CAQ, nous croyons à la laïcité de l’État. Si l’État est laïque, il faut que ça se voie », a renchéri la députée caquiste Nathalie Roy.

M. Fournier n’était pas enclin au compromis lundi. D’ailleurs, le gouvernement libéral refuse net de légiférer afin d’interdire le port des signes religieux chez les employés de l’État en position d’autorité — les juges, les procureurs de la Couronne, les policiers et les gardiens de prison —, comme le recommandait le rapport Bouchard-Taylor. « On a fait ce choix-là, parce qu’il nous semblait le mieux avisé », s’est-il contenté de dire aux médias. L’élu libéral s’est plutôt affairé à casser du sucre sur le dos du PQ et de la CAQ. « S’il y en a qui disent : “Moi, je veux plus.” Eh bien, ils iront aux prochaines élections dire aux Québécois : “Moi, je veux empêcher le monde de travailler. […] Voici comment ils doivent se vêtir. Je veux choisir pour eux leur garde-robe”», a-t-il déclaré au terme d’une relâche parlementaire longue de trois mois. « Nous, les gens vont être libres de leur tenue vestimentaire. On n’a pas besoin de changer notre Charte des droits et libertés par une charte du linge. »

À l’instar du PQ et de la CAQ, Québec solidaire exhorte le gouvernement libéral à « faire un pas de plus » et à prendre acte du « consensus québécois » en édictant une interdiction du port de signes religieux auprès des employés de l’État en position d’autorité. « On ne fera pas d’histoires, personne, pour la question de recevoir et donner des services à visage découvert. Ça fait plusieurs années que tout le Québec s’entendlà-dessus. Là, on est en bas d’un consensusquébécois », a soutenu l’élue solidaire Françoise David, tout en appelant ses confrères et ses consoeurs à débattre du projet de loi 62 « avec calme, avec sérénité »« Ce sont des sujets délicats et explosifs », a-t-elle souligné

Source: Le débat sur la laïcité de l’État reprend le dessus | Le Devoir

Easier to spot a liar in a niqab, says study challenging Canada’s courtroom ban on Muslim veils

Counter-intuitive but interesting study.

Another study I would like to see done is a new version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) that would use a variety of faces and headgear rather than just the white/black current test. More appropriate for the multicultural reality of Canada, although I always recommend taking the current version for its insights into bias:

In a landmark finding inspired by a Supreme Court ban on niqab-wearing court witnesses, a Canadian study has come to the surprising conclusion that it is actually easier to detect a liar if their face is veiled.

“There’s concrete data from over 500 people showing that, in fact, the courts were incorrect,” said Amy-May Leach, an associate professor at the Oshawa-based University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

Leach’s study, published in the latest edition of the journal of the American Psychological Association, had test subjects guess the truthfulness of women with and without religious veils.

The result? “Veiling actually improved lie detection.”

Veiling actually improved lie detection

“People were focusing on what the women are saying, rather than what they look like,” said Leach.

In a 2013 ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada effectively levied a courtroom ban on the wearing of niqabs by testifying witnesses.

NP Graphics

NP GraphicsClick or tap to enlarge
…Leach’s study worked by taking female volunteers and showing them one of two videos featuring a woman and a backpack. In one video, a woman is shown vigilantly watching over a backpack. In the other, the woman is rifling through the backpack to steal its contents.

After the video, the volunteers are then led into a mock courtroom to be questioned by a “prosecution” and a “defence.” Whatever video they saw, the volunteer had to maintain that no theft took place. Thus, anybody who saw the “stealing” video was forced to lie.

People were focusing on what the women are saying, rather than what they look like

Trials were staged with volunteers having their heads uncovered, wearing a hijab (a Muslim hair covering) or wearing a face-covering niqab.

Videos of the trials were then played to a second set of volunteers who were asked to guess if the witness was telling the truth.

For unveiled women, witnesses spotted the liars at a rate of about 50 per cent — no better than if they had flipped a coin.

“It was only when witnesses wore veils (i.e., hijabs or niqabs) that observers performed above chance levels,” wrote the study.

Subsequent repeats of the experiment in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands found similar results.

Source: Easier to spot a liar in a niqab, says study challenging Canada’s courtroom ban on Muslim veils | National Post

Canadians’ response to refugee crisis, niqab debate showed ‘who we really are,’ GG says

Although the Twitterverse correctly noted that the political aspect of these remarks is inappropriate for a Governor General, nevertheless hard to disagree with the substance:

Gov. Gen. David Johnston says he was initially worried that the niqab debate and the tone of the discussion about the Syrian refugee crisis during the election would hurt Canada’s reputation as a fair and inclusive society.

Johnston made the comments in an exclusive interview with CBC chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge for The National, explaining that ultimately he was reassured by the way Canadians responded.

“Look at the outcome of those two, quote, crises,” Johnston said. “Look at how Canada has managed the Syrian refugee crisis in an exemplary way.

“And look at the debate with respect to the niqab. I think Canada showed its strength, that that should not be, should not sidetrack us from who we really are.”

Johnston added that even though the niqab debate has passed he remains concerned about the possible introduction of ideas that would hurt Canada’s reputation.

“I continue to worry about any initiatives that would cause us to be small-minded, and to lose that sense of A, inclusiveness, B, fairness, C, equality of opportunity,” Johnston said, while warning against any sense of complacency.

“I think we must work constantly to overcome that and to have the larger view, but I’m very optimistic that those voices, those ideas are by no means scarce in Canada. I find them abundant,” he said in the interview airing tonight on The National.

Source: Canadians’ response to refugee crisis, niqab debate showed ‘who we really are,’ GG says – Politics – CBC News

A French Minister Has Compared Muslim Women to ‘American Negroes’ | TIME

No wonder France has integration problems:

She has apologized for her choice of words, but stands by her general observation.

France’s Minister for Women’s Rights has found herself in hot water after comparing Muslim women who wear their faith’s traditional garments to “American negroes” who supported slavery.

Laurence Rossignol, the government minister, made the remark during a French television interview on Wednesday. She was condemning retailers like H&M and Dolce & Gabbana for their decision to sell product lines designed for Muslim women, saying these firms were “promoting the confinement of women’s bodies,” France 24 reported.

The interviewer noted that some Muslim women in fact choose to wear articles of clothing like burqas and hijabs.

“Of course there are women who choose it,” Rossignol replied. “There were American negroes who were in favor of slavery.”

Rossignol has since expressed remorse for her choice of words, calling it an “error of language” and insisting that she would only use the word negro in the context of slavery, but otherwise she is standing by her observation. She is now the target of a social-media backlash. As of early Thursday morning, a Change.com petition demanding that Rossignol face “sanctions” for her language had received more than 15,800 signatures.

Source: A French Minister Has Compared Muslim Women to ‘American Negroes’ | TIME