FMW Statement on Niqab Ban‏

FORMAL STATEMENT

THE FEDERATION OF MUSLIM WOMEN APPLAUDS THE RECENT SUPREME COURT DECISION DECLARING NIQAB REMOVAL AT OATH CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

The Federation of Muslim Women (FMW) applauds the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision declaring the ban on the wearing of the face-covering veil (the ‘niqab’) during the citizenship ceremony as unconstitutional. This decision upholds the values and freedom of religion that all citizens of Canada cherish. The FMW supports this decision and congratulates Zunera Ishaq and her legal team, Naseem Mithoowani and Lorne Waldman, for taking the policy to court and successfully having it overturned. The said policy was found to be in breach of Charter and constitutional rights, and failed to accommodate her religious beliefs and dress code. Zunera Ishaq is a
a member of ICNA Canada Sisters and a local past-president.

Since 2011, the FMW campaigned against the unilateral and arbitrary decision to prohibit Muslim women from wearing the niqab during the Oath of Citizenship ceremony, introduced by the then-Immigration Minister, the Hon. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturism. The Minister justified the ban on the grounds that the Muslim face veil, the “niqab” interfered with the requirement of making an “open” and “public” declaration of citizenship.

The FMW had countered that the justification is irrational and is devoid of any reasonable explanation. The Charter guarantees every citizen of Canada the fundamental freedom to choose and practice his or her religion without discrimination. Therefore, all persons have the right to wear any clothing that signifies his or her religious or non-religious beliefs. The ban ignores this very basic right and violates a person’s right to choose and practice his or her religion without discrimination and/or reprisal.

The recent decision, by Justice Keith M. Boswell, found that the ban mandated by the Minister violated the government’s own immigration laws. The policy interfered with the citizenship judge’s duty to allow candidates for citizenship the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation of the oath and was thus found to be unlawful.

NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Federation of Muslim Women/La Fédération des Femmes Musulmanes (FMW) is a registered not-for-profit organization established in 1997 formed primarily to address issues faced by Muslim women in Canada. FMW is a volunteer driven organization.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT RABIA KHEDR, FMW Spokesperson, ON (905) 270-9679.