Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has ignited a firestorm after claiming on Wednesday that the niqab — the Islamic veil worn by some Muslim females — is “rooted in a culture that is anti-women.”
Harper, who made these comments while speaking in front of the House of Commons, took aim at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who, during the public exchange on the floor, disagreed with this sentiment as well as the government’s attempts to ban women from wearing the niqab during citizenship ceremonies.
The prime minister said that Trudeau doesn’t seem to understand why “almost all Canadians oppose the wearing of face coverings during citizenship ceremonies,” according to CTV News.
“It’s very easy to understand,” Harper said of citizens’ apparent opposition. “Why would Canadians, contrary to our own values, embrace a practice at that time that is not transparent, that is not open and, frankly, is rooted in a culture that is anti-women?”
Despite pushback from Trudeau, Harper doubled down, claiming that “moderate Muslims,” too, agree with him that the niqab, which covers a woman’s face, is rooted in anti-female sentiment.
“These are not the views only of the overwhelming majority of Canadians, they are the views of the overwhelming majority of moderate Muslims,” he added, according to Globe and Mail. “It is up to the leader of the Liberal Party to explain why he is so far outside that mainframe.”
Harper has been embroiled in a battle over the government’s attempts to ban the niqab during citizenship ceremonies, which began back in 2012 when Muslim women were asked to remove face-coverings, including niqabs and burqas, while taking the oath.
The Federal Court of Canada ruled against the ban last month, but Harper’s administration is appealing.
Twitter has been flooded with quips and harsh critiques since Harper made his remarks, with many Canadians using the hashtag #dresscodePM to voice their distaste for the prime minister and his claims. Here’s just a sampling of what’s being said:
Not everyone lashed out at Harper, though:
Read more of the ongoing debate here.
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—Courtesy of TheBlaze