In the middle ages it was fashionable to hate the Jews, because they had the temerity to keep to themselves and refuse to integrate into Christendom. Now that we're more enlightened, it's fashionable to hate the Muslims, because they dress differently and refuse to integrate into Christendom.
Wait, how exactly can one woman "disperse"? Was she supposed to de-materialize?
Personally, I don't like the Muslim veils. I see it primarily as a tool for male oppression of females. But you know what? If a woman wants to wear a veil in public, she should be allowed to. What's next? Laws banning mini-skirts? Laws banning socks with sandals?
In Canada, we believe in Freedom. Personal liberty is an extremely important concept. Privacy is as well. So why should we tell someone that their dress code is wrong? If they choose to wear it, that's their choice.
Some women don't have a choice. Their husbands or fathers or other relatives will force them, one way or another, to comply with their medieval religious ideals. But guess what? We already have laws against this behaviour. Why would we need another law specifically singling out one kind of abuse? Honour Killings are against the law no matter whether the reason was because she had sex out of wedlock or because she didn't want to wear a frickin' scarf. If some jerk tries to force her to wear the scarf, HE should be punished. If SHE chooses to wear the scarf, by all means, let her.
Inevitably someone will mention some ridiculous edge case that supposedly makes my argument moot. Such as the commentor on the Star who says "I saw a woman driving while wearing a niqab." But we already have laws that stipulate what constitutes safe driving. You could be charged for dangerous driving if you were, say, driving while blind, or driving while wearing contact lenses that block your vision. Even if everyone can see your face.
I can hear the other whiners now. "But what if I'm working at a bank, and this person comes in and says she's my customer, but I can't recognize her? What if we need her driver's license photo? What if, what if?!" Clearly, if a person must be identified, then they must be identified. But how often do YOU need to be identified on a daily basis? I certainly almost never need to be. I can pay for things with a credit-card and enter my PIN and nobody needs to know who I am. I can walk around the city and it doesn't matter who I am. I can get on the TTC with my Metropass and it makes no difference if the driver can see my face or not. So why should it be against the law for me to cover my face? Or for a Muslim woman to do so?
The comments posted on the Star's article are FULL of racism and xenophobia and Islamophobia. Canadians (at least, the ones who posted on that article) seem to be very insecure about their country and the demands that Multiculturalism (tm) places on it. You know what? Canada has ALWAYS been multicultural. From the very first colonists who landed here and started integrating with the existing population... oh wait, that's not how it happened. Two dominant European cultures came here and fought everyone else into submission for centuries, until they reached an uneasy peace. Then we opened our doors to other cultures... as long as they weren't too shocking. No Asians or Africans or other "visible minorities" please. It wasn't until the late 20th century that we finally reached something like true Freedom and openness. I mean, until Trudeau, we were a model of tolerance and freedom. Forget about the Japanese internment camps. Or the Residential schools for the natives. Or better yet, DON'T FORGET about those things. Canada's history (and the world's history) is full of misdeeds and shameful things we'd sooner forget, but we must always remember our mistakes. Let's not add systemic, legalized Islamophobia to that list.
Canada has some important values. Freedom and equality are the most important. Our women must be free from the religious tyranny commonly associated with Islam. But not all Muslim women are oppressed. And not all oppressed women are Muslim. Don't be afraid of the veil. Be afraid of tyranny, and stand up against it. Let ALL our women be free, including being free to choose the veil. France's law, and its oppression of its own citizens, should be condemned.