Niqab-Citizenship ceremony – A Letter to Prime Minister Harper

I read an article yesterday on CBC. Now, I am not Muslim, I am just an ordinary citizen of Canada, and Mr. Prime Minister I disagree with you. For a minute, I invite you to look at this from the perspective of the devout Muslim woman whom you are asking to give up a fundamental right.

This woman has come to Canada with her family, broken ties with her native land for better opportunities for her children. It is likely she comes from a country where she is being persecuted for her religious beliefs. She has read about Canada, a great and free land, which promises in its Charter of Rights, fundamental freedoms which she doesn’t have in her country, including freedom of conscience and religion.

Becoming a Canadian citizen for most is a moment of pride, of achievement, of belonging and acceptance. So imagine the mental torture inflicted on this woman when at this moment she is asked to either subvert her conscience and her religion or forego Canadian Citizenship, a goal she and her family have sacrificed for. You must remember that this woman has probably worn the niqab for most of her adult life, never taking it off in front of strangers, specially men. Your direction for her to remove this piece of clothing is akin to asking her to disrobe.

I don’t understand Mr. Prime Minister why you think that most Canadians would want to see this woman remove her Niqab? If she believes she is following her religion then most Canadians would want to defend her Charter Rights because that means they are defending their own rights as well. Why would they want to allow you, your ministers or any other member of government to decide what constitutes their religious beliefs.

If this was only a matter of identifying this woman, to make sure it is indeed the same person who is mentioned in the documents, this can be done in private with a female official from CIC and then the woman in question can continue to the ceremony keeping her dignity and religious beliefs intact and go on to be a law abiding Canadian citizen.

I urge you to reconsider your decision to appeal this ruling as you are wasting tax payer money to impose your will upon Canadian citizens and affect their Charter Right to freedom of conscience and religion.

To my fellow Canadians I will say this, today these ministers, instead of upholding the law and protecting our Charter of Rights, are creating division based on their personal bias and views. Tomorrow, they may not like something another group of us does and they will apply that same baton to that group. This is not just about a Muslim woman and her Niqab, this is about upholding our Charter of Rights, so please let these politicians know that we will not tolerate this.

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Stop Cop Brutality

arton3214To serve and protect, this is what the police force is supposed to do. But in the recent past, police brutality has been highlighted in various high profile incidents, from Ferguson, to New York and recently to Philadelphia.

Najee Rivera was framed by two officers of Philadelphia PD. They charged him for aggravated assault when they were the ones who assaulted him. A video found by his girlfriend proved beyond a shadow of doubt that the police officers had falsified their report and brutally beaten up this man.

Najee settled with the PD for $200k and the DA has committed to prosecuting the police officers to the full extent of the law. Despite the damning video evidence, the police officers through their lawyers are looking to prove their innocence in court.

I understand that the police has to deal with an extreme amount of pressure on the streets. Gang wars, drugs, thieves and carries, however that is no excuse to mistreat the very people they have sworn to serve. To be fair, till date I haven’t been on the receiving end of mistreatment from the police, however these instances leave me unnerved.

Citizens shouldn’t have to feel unnerved when dealing with the police. They need to be comfortable enough to approach officers for help when required. To me the problem is proper recruitment, psychological assessment and training. This can ensure that only people with the correct mental makeup are ever made officers. The other part is complete transparency. Cops should wear cameras at all times, that record their encounters with everyone they come in contact with.

In today’s advanced technological age, accomplishing this is not difficult, it just needs willingness. From our politicians, from the police department and commitment from the good officers who are sullied by the actions of the few rogues out there.

The other part towards a better situation is interaction with the community. An ongoing outreach program encouraging dialogue between cops and community will also go a long way to fostering goodwill.

We really need a police force that respects the citizens that actually employ them. Let’s make a change.

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Life for Dummies

“My life is going as per plan.” Said Victor as we drove from NYC to Toronto. “I believe that I have full control of my life.”

I was aghast at hearing this. My friend actually believed that he was in control. To me this was the most ridiculous concept.

When I was in twelfth grade, my father had a heart attack, and went through bypass surgery. I had to take over our family business at the time. While my friends finished high school, went to university, I was working full time. This wasn’t my plan!

A couple of years later my mother was diagnosed of breast cancer. Again this wasn’t all planned out. The doctor suggested conservative surgery and five years after she had a relapse, again not as per plan.

She passed away at a young forty nine years of age, twelve days before my daughter was born, again if I were in control, I wouldn’t have let this happen.

And the list goes on and on.

I explained all this to him. I said life is so unpredictable that to think this way can be extremely damaging to him. Because when life lashes out at him, and he feels he is in control, it might break him.

Towards the end of the drive, he refused to acknowledge this so I just gave up. I got a phone call from him the next day. “You’re right,” he said grudgingly, “You’ve just completely changed my world view.”

His wife went on divorce him soon and came after him in such a vicious way he just couldn’t imagine. They had been married for under two years. She had him reported to the police, and took him through legal proceedings for three years and finally took him for a quarter of a million dollars.

Suffice to say it wasn’t as per his plan!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “(Your Thing) for Dummies.”

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Light – Another name for my Favourite Person.

Mother SilhouetteShe was the first person that held me, looked into my face and smiled. She fed me, clothed me and taught me my first words. I grew up listening to her directions, her voice shaping my thoughts and actions. If I wanted something, she was the one to ask, if I had a problem she would solve it for me. When she wasn’t around it seemed like I was lost at sea, when she was, the biggest burdens felt light. I grew up to be her friend. I grew up to respect her for who she was, for her choices and I grew up to be proud of her. She isn’t here anymore. She died at a young age. She was only forty nine when cancer took her away from me. But in her death were the biggest lessons of all. People who she had only met once or twice, shop owners she usually bought wares from, doctors, nurses, pathologists who treated her came to say goodbye. That is how she touched people. All we take away when we die are the good wishes of those around us. No worldly article can go with us to the other side. Another lesson from her death was how to die with dignity. She knew the cancer had gone to her liver. Doctor’s suggested aggressive treatment, yet gave a poor prognosis. She decided to forego any further treatment. She wanted to spend what little time she had with her family. She sorted out her affairs. Divided up her belongings between us siblings, wrote letters to all those she was close with, something they could open after she was gone. And then she closed her eyes. I saw the last breath leave her body. Yet, she is with me. Always and forever. My mother. In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Do or Die.”

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Thoughts inspired by American Sniper.

98301-004-4BF9FDABI spent a Saturday evening watching the American Sniper. Media reports had created a buzz that reached my ears and I had to watch the movie. I enjoy watching movies, reviewing them on a sister blog I write. This movie however is different. I chose not to comment on what I took away from the movie philosophically. This is what I am going to try and do here.

The movie is based on the life of Chris Kyle, a sniper with the Seals who is credited with the most kills on record for any sniper. Who became a legend within the military establishment. For me the most poignant part of the movie was when after his first tour of duty, he was back State side and driving in the car with his wife and he points out that they are headed to a mall, while there is a war going on in Iraq!

Now I am not in the military, but I have had this same thought a few times. We go about our lives every day. Waking up in the morning, reading our news, getting our coffee and driving to our workplace. We drop our kids to school, we shop for groceries and we plan our weekend getaways. Life is very normal, yet our country is at war. A war where our politicians have sent our fellow countrymen to fight. Yet, back home there is no war.

There is no enemy here that we are fighting. No country has waged war on us, we are not defending ourselves. So then why are we sending our bravest halfway across the world to fight battles that really aren’t ours? I think it is now proven without a doubt that going into Iraq was not just a mistake, but a racket. There were no weapons of mass destruction and what we have ended up doing is creating an entire generation of people who will hate America, and its allies for as long as they will live. A few rich people have gotten richer and lives have been lost.

I salute the brave soldiers who take on the responsibility to serve so that the rest of us may enjoy freedom, prosperity and a normal life. Today, we owe people like Chris Kyle a debt we cannot possibly repay without putting our own lives on the line. The real problem is, they should not have been sent out so frivolously in the first place.

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What do the Depths Hold?

DepthsThey call out, as they lap the shore,

Come hither they say, come our way.

World is trouble, world is strife.

In our arms, you will find respite.

Into the depths, we will take you.

Come hither they say, come our way.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth.”

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Chemical Disaster at School

acl2Grade ten was important. Board exams! The thought of these exams caused my heart to beat faster. It felt like there was a heavy weight on my chest. My brain froze and refused to work.

My worst fear of course was Chemistry. I found the subject boring. I found it challenging because there was a lot of memorization involved and I hated memorizing things.

My Chemistry teacher, Mrs. Sachdev helped me after school. I would go to her home and would go over my difficulties with her. She was a sweet person, a thin sweet voice which was never suited to screaming. Her most distinguishing feature was that she didn’t seem to have a neck. It was like her head sat right on top of her body, like a Penguin.

Exam time drew closer and chemistry continued to be a thorn in my backside. It was time for taking the practical exam. I was lucky to sit beside one of the brightest students, so I was hoping to copy my way through. A dangerous but desperate ploy.

The moderator fired the starting gun, and we scrambled to complete our experiments to make it to the finish line. I guess I wasn’t the best at cheating, having never before being reduced to it. Very soon it became apparent to the ghoul of a moderator that I was indeed cheating.

As she walked toward me, her eyes as dark as coal, embers flying out, I cowered in fear. I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my throat and fall on the floor. And then, my knight with a pipette swooped in. Mrs. Sachdev! She saw the peril I was in. She took her junior to the side and whispered some words and my nemesis retreated. It felt like a cobra in mid-strike had heard the song of a snake charmer.

Then my savior made sure I had a clear view of my friends paper! It wasn’t over yet. These were just the practicals. The theory portion of the Chemistry exam was a few days away. I just couldn’t deal with this stupid subject. Why did I have to study this. Useless as I never planned to become a scientist.

We lined up to get into the exam room. My stomach was tied up in knots. I don’t sweat easily. If I could, I am sure I would be drenched as if caught in rain without an umbrella. We sat down to write our papers. I didn’t have chemistry swirling in my brain so instead I watched how the exam was being conducted.

I realized that the moderator was from an outside school. Mrs. Sachdev wouldn’t be able to help me, even if she wanted to. I saw my peers asking for additional papers to write down their answers, I noticed the moderator gave supplement answer sheets and signed off on the fact that the student had received an additional sheet.

I raised my hand and the moderator walked over. She gave me a supplement sheet. I pretended to write in it and then after sometime I raised my hand again, asking for another supplement sheet. She signed off attesting that I had a total of three answer sheets. While the moderator was busy elsewhere, I took the middle sheet and hid it inside my shirt.

The plan was simple. I needed 35% to pass. Between the two sheets I had submitted, I had answered questions for less than 35% marks so I should surely fail the exam. What I was counting on was that they would have no choice but to give me a passing grade because the middle supplement was missing. If they failed me, I would appeal to have the paper re-examined and would call out that they misplaced my middle supplement.

A couple of months passed and the day the results were announced arrived. I maintained an outwardly composed appearance, my heart quivering with fear from within. As my homeroom teacher announced my name, I walked up to her desk and got the mark sheet. All I was interested in looking for was my grade on Chemistry! I passed…my gambit had paid off! I had Mrs. Sachdev to thank for saving me during the practicals and some real ingenuity on my part to thanks for passing the exam.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Teacher’s Pet.”

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