Controversy is brewing over the government’s recent announcement that all new immigrants will be required to show their faces while taking their oaths at citizenship ceremonies.
The legislation, which goes into effect immediately, is directed specifically at Muslim women wearing niqabs, burkas and other types of veils. The government says that such a move was deemed necessary after officials at ceremonies complained of difficulty in determining if all participants were reciting the oath.
“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,” said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. “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.”
Across the country people are speaking out strongly both in favour of and against the regulation. NDP Immigration critic Don Davies says that the government should have held more consultations with other political parties as well as experts in Muslim policy.
The B.C. Muslim Association, however, says that the move is understandable at the practical level if officials cannot tell when someone is reciting the oath. At the same time, they do caution against possible negative interpretations of the move.
“[…] Muslim women should not be given the message that it is only by removing their veils that they will be deemed as “full members of the community” or that wearing the veil in general is not culturally acceptable in Canada, nor should anyone practising their religious beliefs be made to feel marginalized,” the organization said in a statement.
Source: Vancouver Sun