Toronto: According to Canada's immigration minister, new Canadian citizens must remove any face coverings, such as the Islamic niqab or burqa, while they take the oath of citizenship.
Jason Kenney said most Canadians have misgivings about Islamic face coverings and said new Canadians should take the oath in view of their fellow citizens. He said he has received complaints from lawmakers and judges who say it’s difficult to ensure that individuals whose faces are covered are actually reciting the oath.
The Conservative minister called the issue a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of Canada’s identity and the country’s values of openness and equality. He said women who feel obliged to have their faces covered in public often come from a cultural milieu that treats women as property rather than human beings.
“I do think that most Canadians find that disquieting to say the least,’’ Kenney said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “Most Muslim Canadian women I know find the practice of face covering in our society disturbing, indicative of an approach to women that is not consistent with our democratic values,’’ Kenney added.
Kenney made the announcement in the French-speaking province of Quebec, which has experienced heated debates over how much Canada should bend to accommodate newcomers.
Kenney said his government would not go further by drafting laws to ban women from wearing veils that cover their faces in public. The new Canadian rule takes effect immediately.