Canada court rules for niqab wearer in citizenship ceremonies
With only two weeks left before October 19 legislative elections, a woman's right to wear the niqab has become a hot-button issue
With only two weeks left before October 19 legislative elections, a woman's right to wear the veil, which covers all of her face except the eyes, has become a hot-button issue.
The Canadian Federal Court of Appeals, weighing in on an issue that has proved pivotal in the campaign for the Oct. 19 election, ruled on Monday in favour of a Muslim woman who has sought to take the oath of citizenship with her face veiled.
The court rejected the Conservative government's request for a stay of its Sept. 15 decision also in favour of the woman, Zunera Ishaq, who insisted on wearing the niqab at the citizenship ceremony.
The government is appealing the decision to the Supreme Court and had asked that it be put on hold.
The niqab issue has become a volatile one in the election campaign, particularly in the province of Quebec, where the vast majority of the population supports a ban on niqabs at citizenship ceremonies.
It has badly eroded the support in Quebec of the opposition New Democratic Party, which has declined to back the ban, and this has hurt the NDP's national polling numbers.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, and said that, if re-elected, his Tories would make it the law.
"When we join the Canadian family we should not hide our identity and that's the reason we believe that new citizens should recite the oath with their face uncovered," he said.