Wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi calls for burqa ban in Ontario

Ensaf Haidar stands next to a poster of a book of articles written by her husband, the imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, in Montreal, June 16, 2015.
Ensaf Haidar stands next to a poster of a book of articles written by her husband, the imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, in Montreal, June 16, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

The wife of jailed Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has called on Ontario Premier Doug Ford to ban the use of Islamic face coverings in public places.

Ensaf Haidar, who along with her three children became a Canadian citizen on Canada Day, took to Twitter to urge Ford to follow Quebec’s lead and outlaw the burqa and niqab from government settings, schools, banks, hospitals and public transportation.

Quebec’s Bill 62, which came into law in October, doesn’t specifically mention burqas or niqabs, but forbids people from covering their faces while providing and receiving public services.

Haidar and her children fled Saudi Arabia and took refuge in Sherbrooke, Que. in 2015, three years after Badawi was arrested and charged with “insulting Islam through electronic channels.” Badawi ran a website, Free Saudi Liberals, which published content critical of influential religious clerics and the festering of extremism in certain Saudi institutions.

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Badawi was condemned to seven years in prison and 600 lashes, although the sentence was later raised to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes and a monetary fine. He received 50 lashes in January 2015 in a public flogging, but is not known to have received more physical punishment since then.

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READ MORE: Wife of jailed Saudi blogger sworn in as Canadian citizen

In a statement, Haidar told Global News that she wanted to use her first day as a Canadian citizen to raise awareness about the plight of women forced to abide by Sharia, or traditional Islamic law.

“As a Canadian who was born in Saudi Arabia under laws of Sharia where human rights are non-existent, I realised the power mysognist men [have] over powerless women with no rights.

As a refugee in Quebec and Canada I have noticed the fast growth of Islamist groups loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Saudi clergy imposing the Burqa and enforcing Niqab on girls and women as political flags to mark jihadi territory.

Nowhere in Islam is a woman required to cover her face. This is medievalist mysoginy [sic] that treats women as animals and property of men and shamed into attire that befits slavery, not humanity.

It is for this reason that on the first day as a Canadian I have raised the issue of banning the Burqa and Niqab in Ontario as I feel Premier Ford is a man who will listen to my plea and end the war by deception being waged by Islamists against Canadian values.”

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Earlier, Haidar told the Canadian Press that she was delighted to become a Canadian citizen, and said her favourite thing about Canada is freedom of speech.

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