Canada government to press for ban on veil at citizenship ceremonies

September 17, 2015

The Canadian government on Wednesday (Sept 16) said it would go to the Supreme Court to press its case for banning Muslim women’s face coverings during citizenship ceremonies, an issue in the current election campaign.

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A federal appeals court on Tuesday found the ban on veils such as the niqab was unlawful. The case was brought by Zunera Ishaq, an immigrant from Pakistan who refused to take part in a citizenship ceremony because it meant she could not wear a niqab and would have to show her face.

“The government of Canada will seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in the Ishaq case,” Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a one-line statement.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative trying to stay in power, says the niqab, a face-covering veil worn by some Muslims, is rooted in an “anti-women” culture.

Defense Minister Jason Kenney, who has spearheaded a successful campaign to win support in immigrant communities for the Conservatives, said people’s faces should be visible when taking the oath in a citizenship ceremony.

“At that one very public moment, of a very public declaration of one’s loyalty to one’s fellow citizens and country, one should do so openly, proudly and publicly, without one’s face hidden,” he told reporters in Calgary.

A Conservative statement on Tuesday said: “Most Canadians find it offensive that someone would hide their identity at the very moment where they are committing to join the Canadian family.”

 

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