Muslims Debate Canada Ban

December 13, 2011 by staff 

Muslims Debate Canada Ban, On Dec. 12, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that Muslim women in Canada must remove face coverings like the niqab or the burka before they can recite the oath of citizenship to become Canadians.

Meanwhile, an Ontario woman who wears the niqab is the subject of a case currently before the Supreme Court of Canada. Known only as “N.S.,” the woman is the complainant in a sexual assault case and wants to testify in court while wearing the face veil. Her defendants counter that for the purpose of cross-examination, they should be able to see her facial expressions.

In Quebec, the issue of Muslim headdress is at the centre of the “reasonable accommodation” debate. In the summer of 2011, Quebec’s Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association barred Sarah Benkirane, a referee, from the league because she wears a hijab.

In March of 2010, a woman born in Egypt complained to the Quebec Human Rights Commission after she was kicked out of a language class for new immigrants at the CEGEP St-Laurent for refusing to take off her niqab in class. A month later, a 25-year-old permanent resident from India known only as Aisha was removed, for the same reason, from a language class at the Centre d’intégration multi-services de l’Ouest de l’Ile in the Montreal suburb of Pointe-Claire.

In 2010, the Quebec government tabled Bill 94, which would prohibit women in front-line government agency jobs from wearing religious face coverings. The bill has not been passed.

In France, where secularity is enshrined in the constitution, religious apparel has been a point of contention for some time. The country introduced a ban on Muslim headscarves and other overt religious symbols at state schools in 2004, and in 2010, approved a bill that bans the wearing of the burka — or the full veil — in government offices, public transport, hospitals and schools.

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