I am thinking about the veil right now because there have been at least two recent newsworthy cases in Quebec, the province next door to ours. Each case involves an immigrant Muslim woman. In one instance, she withdrew from a French immersion class because the instructor felt that s/he needed to see her face in a language class. After complaints, that decision was upheld by higher authorities.
In a second case a woman applying for her health card was asked to remove the niqab from around her face long enough for the registrant to verify her identity. When she appealed, somewhat surprisingly, the Human Rights Commission upheld the decision concluding: “It is not a significant infringement of freedom of religion.” I say the decision was surprising because we tend to be almost over-tolerant up here.
Of course, it is wonderful and desirable to be tolerant and understanding, but any desirable trait can almost surely be pushed past the limit of common sense. Sometimes tolerance goes so far as to become ironic: for example, when supposedly tolerant people become intolerant of those whom they deem to be not tolerant enough. (You may have to read that over. )
To wit: I once followed a blog devoted to religious understanding and tolerance. The writer explored and wrote about other religions (I specifically remember a series on Islam) in a very tolerant way, which I hasten to assure you, I think is a rather fine thing. However, after she once wrote about how wonderfully American it was to see a Muslim man dressed in Americana (shorts and ballcap, I think it was), while his accompanying wife chose to wear the traditional veil (a niqab or burqa in that case, I think), I couldn't resist offering my opinion: something to the effect that I would be more impressed if she were wearing the shorts and he was wearing the veil.
However, apparently my opinion wasn't to be tolerated by that tolerant blogger because she never acknowledged me further, even though I continued to visit her blog and make really nice tolerant comments for quite some time.
Does dear reader wish to weigh in on this topic? However, I understand that it is a sensitive issue that you might wish to avoid, and perhaps I should have done the same. Oh well; it's done. (Note: if you comment, I must say that in an if-you-can't-beat-em-join-em sort of way, I am becoming somewhat better at replying to comments. Please bear with me, however: it's a work in progress. )