rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

The niqab debate reminds us why we have a Charter

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

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. 

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.