The Canadian government has announced that it will go to the Supreme Court to argue in favor of banning face coverings for Muslim women during citizenship ceremonies. A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the headscarf 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 had 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 Tory facing a tight three-way fight to stay in power, says the niqab, a face-covering veil worn by some Muslims, is rooted in an “anti-woman” culture.
Defense Minister Jason Kenney, who has led a successful campaign to win support from immigrant communities for the Tories, says people’s faces should be visible when taking the oath at a citizenship ceremony .
“At this very public moment, of a very public declaration of loyalty to one’s fellow citizens and one’s country, one should do so openly, proudly and publicly, without hiding one’s face,” he told reporters in Calgary.
Opposition New Democrats and Liberals say the ban violates the rights of Canadians and accuse the Conservatives of stoking prejudice against Muslims.
“This government (…) continues its policy of division and even fear, and it is not worthy of a country as diverse and extraordinary as Canada,” Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau told reporters when asked about the scheduled call.
A Conservative statement on Tuesday said: ‘Most Canadians find it offensive that someone hides their identity just when they are making a commitment to join the Canadian family.’