Banning veils from the polls

Muslim women will have to remove their niqabs before voting.


Tracy Clark-Flory
March 24, 2007 4:12AM (UTC)

After receiving staunch criticism -- and threats of bodily harm-- for allowing Muslim women to vote while wearing a full face veil, Quebec's chief electoral officer has reversed his stance. Marcel Blanchet announced today that all voters must show up "uncovered," reports the Associated Press.

Before, Blanchet had allowed Muslim women to show up to polling places wearing the niqab, so long as they "signed a sworn statement and showed proper ID," according to the AP. But, then came the intimidating e-mails and phone calls (worrying Blanchet enough to employ bodyguards), and threats from some voters of showing up on election day wearing masks. (Potentially making the whole voting process a whole lot more fun.)

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Many Muslims in Quebec see this as just the latest in a recent spate of openly expressed xenophobia in the province. Just last month, an 11-year-old Muslim girl was yanked from a soccer game for refusing to remove her headscarf. And, as we've written about before, Hérouxville recently adopted a "code of norms" strongly discouraging women from veiling.

Sarah Elgazzar of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations told the AP: "I doubt many of these women will show up at the polls on Monday after all this mockery." Which is a pity -- obviously their voices need to be heard now more than ever.


Tracy Clark-Flory

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