Another Niqab Controversy [Quebec "defense" of French too far?]

First off, I’ve got nothing good to say about women wearing Niqabs, Burqas or veils even though I have no problem with their masters wearing gowns.

But, I do feel quite happy with how my country, Canada, generally accomadates exotic cultures.

Which is why I’m somewhat conflicted with the reaction of a post secondary school in Quebec attempting to teach an Egyptian female the French language.

They expelled her for eventually refusing to take off her niqab.

The school claimed they needed to see her face in order to help her with her diction.

I’m not buying that excuse. They did offer her to take the course on-line. Seems that they don’t really need to look at her face at all.

What I do suspect is some deep subtle Quebecois francophone xenophobia based on their fervent desire to maintain their culture and get their immigrants in tune with it.

This probably has a bit more to do with Quebec identity then anything else. I’ll try to put this in a local/historical perspective with a quote from Jacob Levy when the Royal Commission on Reasonable Accommodation came out with their report: [


Gee, people telling other how to dress. In English, we usually use the word “bully” in these situations.

I believe the word for it in Arabia is Sharia.

Yep. Canada ought not to be like Saudi Arabia. The government ought not to tell people what to wear.

Pretty clear who’s in the right in this case. It’s not like the driver’s license controversy or anything; it’s bigotry, pure and simple.

That’s what always astounds me about these policies. The logic behind them seems to go something like, “It’s unconscionable that oppressive foreign regimes force women to dress in a certain way. It’s important that we not allow ourselves to become like them, therefore, we are justified in passing a law requiring women to dress in a certain way.”

And none of them ever seem to recognize the irony.

It just proves that stupidity is universal, and it does not stop at the border?

An online course is different than an instructor lead course. If the instructor has an issue with a student it is his class to say if a person is disruptive, or causing a problem with his instruction, or not.
A niqab is a cultural piece of clothing. It is not required in the Islamic religion. Only dressing modestly is required so as not to call undue attention to oneself. Wearing a burqa when no one else does actually does the opposite and singles a person out. If she is wearing it it is because she wants to call attention to herself and thus is violating the religious precepts, or because she is being forced to by someone who is trying to control her.
That she is taking this to the human rights star chamber suggests the former.

While I mentioned in the France thread that I think an outright ban would have the opposite effect of its (supposed) intent, further oppressing women, I think there is some merit to this

Part of the problem seems to have stemmed form her not wanting to interact with men in the class, and I do wonder how I would feel if the opposite were true – if a male student refused to sit by a woman, or partner up with her for exercises, simply because she was female. Or if he wore a balaclava to class.

As an TEFL teacher, I’d say that unless it was an intensive one-on-one pronunciation focused course there is no reason why you would need to see a student’s mouth. Showing your mouth might be helpful and not showing it means she might not get as high of a score as she could have, but it wouldn’t ever be absolutely necessary.

Yes, the whole world knows that we’re monsters while English Canadians are perfect (why, oh why don’t we finally accept the inherent inferiority of our culture and finally accept true Canadianity which is so compassionately being offered us!?), but if it’s been claimed that the professors need to see her face to evaluate her elocution, who I am to argue?

Listen. I don’t care how people dress in their day-to-day life, as long as it isn’t obscene or anything. Even when it is said that allowing public servants to wear religious symbols, including religious clothing, while at work would associate the government to a religious group, I tend to roll my eyes. But there are cases where a full veil just isn’t appropriate. When one has to prove her identity, for example. And in this case, it seems that her veil did negatively influence her participation in the class.

And to The Flying Dutchman and other English Canadians : we know you don’t like us. (There was actually a recent survey to this effect.) We know you think we’re morally, culturally and for all I know intellectually inferior to you. But just leave us alone, okay? Sure, you’d like us to be just like those Franco-Ontarians or other minority francophones who speak French at home and in school but are otherwise Good Canadians[sub]TM[/sub] with a funny accent, dat sit dat sall! But it doesn’t work for us.

A human being with a functioning brain.

Have you taken a language class? Has a language teacher ever said, “no, you’re moving your mouth the wrong way”?

Exotic cultures? Masters? Egyptian female? Was all that language really necessary?

Get a grip on yourself.

When I hear talk like that, Laurier, St. Laurent, Trudeau, Chretien, come to mind.
Four Quebec francophone prime ministers who have recieved a total of 13 electoral mandates covering 42 % of our history since the first election of Laurier near the turn of the 20th century.

No. I could have just posted the link.


Take any regional Canadian disputes to a separate thread.

I have not quite figured out what the debate is supposed to be in this thread, so I am not sure where it will wind up, but we do not need two separate arguments going on in the same thread.

[ /Moderating ]

When speaking with (ethnic) Quebeckers about Hérouxville or the role of cultural/linguistical minorities in the province I mostly got luke-warm to positive feedback (never hostile). The biggest sticking point seemed to be on the idea of reasonable accommodation. Everyone has different ideas on what that means…

Before the last federal/provincial election in Canada/Quebec I was sure that the old political paradigms were changing from Lib/Bloc, Anglo/Franco, Protestant/Catholic, Canada/Quebec to more like Urban/Rural, Young/Old, Immigrant/Native, Muslim/secular-Christian. However IMO two things happened which slowed this paradigm shift in Quebec:

  1. Harper totally screwed up his Quebec advances in the last election (he came so close to winning “the right-wing” in Quebec and thus a majority).
  2. The ADQ utterally collapsed in the last provincial election.

What is your opinion? Is there an identity politics angle to this story?

actually, yes.

Just as a wild mention, umlauted vowels. You say one vowel but shape your mouth like a different vowel [more or less, mouth shape influences how the umauted vowel is finally pronounced]


Well, there are no umlauts in French. So there!