A Canadian Muslim group is calling on Ottawa to ban the wearing of the burka in public, saying the argument that the right to wear it is protected by the Charter's guarantee of freedom of religion is false.
"The burka has absolutely no place in Canada," said Farzana Hassan, of the Muslim Canadian Congress. "In Canada we recognize the equality of men and women. We want to recognize gender equality as an absolute. The burka marginalizes women."
She said many women who cover their face in public are being forced to by their husbands and family. As a result, she argued, these women are denied opportunities and cannot live freely as other women in this society.
"The Koran exhorts Muslims toward modesty, which can be expressed in a number of different ways and it doesn't have to be that you have to cover your face or you have to wear a virtual tent wherever you go. This is not a requirement of Islam or the Koran. We are saying this practice has become a political issue promoted by extremists and to counter this trend we are asking for a ban on the burka."