Canada has imposed a new ban on wearing traditional Islamic veils, such as the niqab or face-shielding burqa, under specific circumstances.
The veil ban will be imposed on women aspiring for Canadian citizenship, thwarting females from covering their face while they take an oath during Canadian citizenship ceremonies.
The country’s immigration minister, Jason Kenney, said that people hoping to become Canadians should take the oath of citizenship in view of their fellow citizens and argued that most Canadians are uncomfortable with Islamic veils.
“I do think that most Canadians find that disquieting to say the least,” Kenney told AP.
“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,” he added.
Kenney questioned the sincerity of a female taking the citizenship oath with their face veiled at a Quebec press conference saying “you should be willing to show who you are” and arguing that Muslim women are not required to wear a veil when making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The ban has spurred debate among Muslims in the country, which make up around 2.8 percent of the population.
Ihsaan Gardee, acting director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, told Metro News that he opposed the ban, arguing that Mr. Kenney opened up a “slippery slope” that could lead to more oppressive bans on the country's Muslim minority.
“The idea that he should call into question somebody’s sincerity when they’re taking the citizenship oath, and not the sincerity of others, is very problematic,” Gardee said.
However, the Muslim Canadian Congress has welcomed the new regulation and has even urged the Canadian government to impose a full burqa ban similar to the ban imposed in France.