The Canadian government has said it will go to the Supreme Court to argue for banning Muslim women from wearing facials during citizenship ceremonies. A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the veil ban was illegal.
The case was brought by Zunera Ishaq, an immigrant from Pakistan who refused to participate 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 statement.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a Conservative facing a close three-way battle to stay in power, says the niqab, a face veil worn by some Muslims, is rooted in an “anti-women” culture.
Defense Minister Jason Kenney, who has led a successful campaign to win the support of immigrant communities for the Tories, said people’s faces should be visible when swearing in at a citizenship ceremony .
“At this very public moment, of very public declaration of his loyalty to his fellow citizens and to his country, we must do it openly, proudly and publicly, without hiding his face,” he told reporters in Calgary.
New Democrats and opposition Liberals say the ban violates the rights of Canadians and accuse Conservatives of fueling prejudice against Muslims.
“This government (…) pursues the policy of division and even fear, and that is not worthy of a country as diverse and extraordinary as Canada,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau told reporters when asked about the ‘planned call.
A statement from the Conservatives said Tuesday: “Most Canadians find it offensive that someone is hiding their identity the very moment they commit to joining the Canadian family.”