Face Veils Banned For Citizenship Oaths

December 13, 2011 by staff 

Face Veils Banned For Citizenship Oaths, New Canadians will no longer be able to shield themselves behind a face-covering when taking their oath of citizenship, the federal government announced Monday in a move that’s already stirring controversy.

The rule, effective immediately, means Muslim women will be required to remove their niqabs, burkas and other veils before crossing the final hurdle toward becoming a Canadian citizen. The move follows complaints from citizenship judges, MPs and others who’ve participated in citizenship ceremonies who say it’s hard to tell whether veiled individuals are reciting the oath, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said.

“Requiring that all candidates show their faces while reciting the oath allows judges, and everyone present to share in the ceremony, to ensure all citizenship candidates are taking the oath as required by law,” he said. “This is not simply a practical measure. It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality.”

The government should have consulted experts on Islamic law before enforcing the regulation to understand the correct position of the face veil, the B.C. Muslim Association said in a statement.

“If the purpose of having women remove their face veils at the citizenship oath ceremony is merely to confirm their identity, as well as ensure they are reciting the oath, then … this would not conflict with Islamic values and guidelines, and it would be [permissible] for a Muslim woman to uncover her face for that period of time,” the statement said. “It would be preferable such verifications be conducted by females.”

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