Whether through the power exercised by the media, public figures, policy makers or other community stakeholders, Muslim women are often denied the platform and agency to express their thoughts, beliefs and experiences concerning their faith and community. This is best exemplified by the current debate concerning the prohibition of the niqab, the facial covering worn by a small portion of Muslim women. Various governments such as Belgium, Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Austria and France have engaged in highly publicized debates and policies concerning the face veil with Canada also following suit, with the proposed Bill 94 in Quebec and the recent federal decision to ban the niqab during citizenship ceremonies.
In response to these events CCMW has issued position papers and offered public statements at the Bill 94 hearing (download CCMW Bill 94 Brief – May 7 2010 in PDF). Yet more recently, with a grant rewarded by the Trillium Foundation, CCMW is undertaking a study on the practice of Muslim-veiling. Conducting a series of surveys, interviews and focus groups (Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Waterloo) with Muslim women who wear the niqab and those who do not, the overarching goal of this project is to allow Muslim women to speak for themselves. It is our hope that our report and the narratives of these women, will build a greater understanding of the complexities surrounding the niqab for policy makers, media officials, researchers and members of the public.