A Muslim group based in Calgary is urging the prime minister to reverse his plans for the government to appeal a court ruling on face coverings.
The Islamic Supreme Council of Canada says the Federal Court’s decision to allow face coverings during citizenship ceremonies is “not an important issue,” but that Stephen Harper is “unnecessarily” making it one.
The council says it’s clear that wearing a niqab, which is worn by some Muslim women in public areas and in front of men who are not relatives, is not a security issue.
It says the identity of someone wearing a niqab during a citizenship ceremony can be verified by the judge before the oath is sworn.
A federal judge ruled in Ottawa that a portion of the law requiring citizenship candidates to remove their face coverings while taking the oath was unlawful.
The council says wearing a niqab is a personal choice just like wearing a very short dress.
“Niqab during citizenship does not undermine any Canadian, Western or Christian values,” the council stated in the news release.
“In fact, if our prime minister respects the Federal Court’s decision, it will show the respect for the law and the respect for the freedom to choose, which is a very important Canadian value.”
Harper said Thursday that he believes most Canadians consider it offensive someone “would hide their identity at the very moment where they are committing to join the Canadian family.”
The case had been brought on by Zunera Ishaq, a Pakistani national who had sued the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration claiming the government’s policy on veils violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.