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The niqab debate reminds us why we have a Charter

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A recent poll showed that 82 per cent of Canadians support a ban on niqabs at citizenship ceremonies and it's a great reminder of why we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You can't revoke individual rights, including freedom of religion, just because over half of people feel like it. Even if 99 per cent of Canadians thought Orthodox Jews should have to shave off their beards because they find them offensive and anti-man, it wouldn't matter. Rights are to public opinion what Rob Ford's behaviour is to public opinion: irrelevant.

There's no practical reason why women should have to uncover their face at citizenship ceremonies. There's no security risk. These things aren't ninja outfits. The women still have to prove their identity multiple times during the citizenship process. The ceremony itself is a symbolic ritual, where you express your loyalty to our enlightened democracy by swearing an oath to a Queen born with a divine right to rule.

But we all know what this is really about right? It's about Muslims, our current scapegoat for the world's problems. And just like every scapegoat that came before them, we make lots of broad, ignorant generalizations about the mentality and the values of this massive group of people, convinced that this isn't like the gays or the Jews or the Japanese. We're not scaping up the wrong goat this time. This is some educated, accurate bigotry.  

Most people have a hard time figuring out what their partner is thinking. So maybe making generalizations about 1.6 billion Muslims is a bad idea. Unless of course there's an election on, and you want to literally scare up some votes, and you don't feel shame. 

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