Canadian Federal Court rejects government appeal to remove Muslim woman niqab

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Ottawa, (IINA) – The Canadian Federal Court of Appeal rejected on Monday the governmental Ottawa’s office request to hold a ruling in favor of a Muslim woman who wants to wear her niqab at the Canadian citizenship ceremony, while it seeks a hearing in the Supreme Court of Canada, The Canadian Press reported.
The 29-year old Zunera Ishaq, who came to Ontario from Pakistan in 2008, refused to take part in a citizenship ceremony because she would have to show her face, due to a policy rule issued on December 2011 requiring candidates who wear full or partial face coverings to remove them, during recitation of the oath.
The Court found the new policy rule unlawful in February and the Court of Appeal recently upheld the decision. A three-judge panel ruled from the bench immediately after a hearing, saying they wanted Ishaq to obtain citizenship in time to vote in the elections.

On Monday, Federal Judge Johanne Trudel said she could not agree to the federal request for a stay of the appeal court’s mid-September ruling.
“I find that the appellant has not demonstrated that refusing his application for stay would result in irreparable harm to the public interest,” Trudel wrote. “This suffices to dispose of the appellant’s motion for stay”.
In a statement released on Monday night, Ishaq said she was pleased that the courts have reaffirmed her right to citizenship and to vote.
Ishaq also said she was disappointed with the government’s focus on her case “when there is so much more that merits the attention of Canadians at this time”.
She added: “I wish to confirm that I will be identified without my veil for the purposes of the ceremony. This has nothing to do with identity and everything to do with my right”.

The issue of face coverings at citizenship ceremonies has become a highly divisive one on the federal election trail, the Conservatives argue that it is essential and consistent with national values to show one’s face at the very moment of becoming a Canadian citizen, while the NDP and Liberals have accused the government of using the issue, which affects only a small number of women, as a means of distracting voters from more important issues like the economy.
AG/IINA

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