Canada court lets women wear veil for citizenship oath

Court also throws out policy that required new citizens to have their faces uncovered as they recite citizenship oath


Afp September 16, 2015
PHOTO: AFP

OTTAWA: New Canadian citizens can wear face veils at their citizenship ceremonies, a Canadian court ruled Tuesday, overturning a ban the ruling party had trumpeted as a policy accomplishment on the eve of elections.

The Federal Court of Appeals also threw out a policy that had required new citizens to have their faces uncovered as they recite the citizenship oath.

It upheld a lower court's ruling that the niqab, which covers all of the wearer's face except the eyes, can be worn at the ceremony.

Read: Iran police to confiscate cars of 'poorly veiled' women

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper had called that earlier decision, issued in February in the case of Toronto-area resident Zunera Ishaq, "unacceptable" and had appealed to defend his law.

The lower court had held that the ban violated Ishaq's religious freedoms under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a position the appeals court upheld.

"The appeal was dismissed with compensation," a court spokesman told AFP, noting the three judges had cited the urgency of deciding the case quickly so Ishaq can take the citizenship oath in time to vote in the October 19 parliamentary elections.

Originally from Pakistan, Ishaq arrived in Canada in 2008 and passed her citizenship test in 2013.

Read: Hate crimes against Muslims in London ‘up by 70%’

But Ishaq refused to participate in the oath-reciting ceremony because she did not want to do it with her face uncovered, as required under a 2011 law.

The Conservative government had not yet responded to the ruling Tuesday, but the decision can still be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The ban notwithstanding, Canada sees itself as a pioneer in multiculturalism for policies including allowing mounted police who are Sikh to wear their traditional turban and dagger while in uniform.

COMMENTS (4)

Ali Ad-Dajjal | 6 years ago | Reply @Stan Squires: Muslim is not a race, it's a religion. And it's no victory. If she wanted to keep wearing the niqab, maybe she should have stayed in Pakistan!
Stan Squires | 6 years ago | Reply I wanted to say that the court made the right decision in overturning the ban on wearing the Hijab and Naqab. The Canadian gov't is racist toward Muslim People and this should be condemned by all Canadians. This is a victory for all muslim women.The Canadian gov't should be condemned for its racist attitude toward muslim women.Hopefully the Canadian gov'ts attempt to appeal this decision will be turned down.Most people in Canada support the muslim women's right to wear the Hijab and the Naqab.
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