Magazine article The Christian Century

Canadian Court Rules in Favor of Woman Wearing Niqab in Citizenship Ritual

Magazine article The Christian Century

Canadian Court Rules in Favor of Woman Wearing Niqab in Citizenship Ritual

Article excerpt

A Canadian court has cleared the way for a Muslim woman to wear her face veil, or niqab, while taking the oath of citizenship.

The Federal Court of Appeal in October refused to suspend its previous ruling that the government may not bar Zunera Ishaq from covering her face when becoming a Canadian citizen.

The judge said she found that the government had not demonstrated that refusing the stay "would result in irreparable harm to the public interest."

The ruling is the third legal defeat for Canada's Conservative government on the niqab, which was a hot-button issue in the October 19 federal election.

In his campaign, Prime Minister Stephen Harper supported the niqab ban. The issue whipped up much debate about identity politics and the targeting of Muslims. Harper lost to the candidate of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

Ottawa's policy dates to 2011, when then-immigration minister Jason Kenney announced a ban on face coverings during citizenship ceremonies to ensure that new citizens were reciting the oath and because saying the oath is a "quintessentially public act." But documents have shown that Kenney proceeded with the ban despite advice from his own department that religious beliefs should be accommodated in cases where "no security reasons exist. …

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