To women in Paris, New York, Brussels, London – or Ottawa on “Hijab day” – who lawfully claim the freedom to wear the burqa or the niqab, I would say: Think very carefully, not only about your individual rights, in our free, liberal societies, but indeed about your collective responsibility towards fellow Muslim women around the world who don’t have such rights.
You should all examine cautiously this not-so-innocuous symbol of oppression, because if you don’t see anything wrong with the niqab today, then what will you say tomorrow, when, once again, a young Muslim girl is disfigured, stoned to death or murdered by her own father for choosing to dress in a “too westerly fashion?”
You can’t have it both ways. Freedom and responsibility are forever intertwined. You can’t advance ideals of equality, freedom, tolerance and women’s rights by embracing a symbol that unequivocally stands against them.
To paraphrase JFK, I would venture to say: “Do not ask what freedom can do for you, … but what you can do for freedom!”