TORONTO (RNS) Canada’s prime minister is vowing to appeal a court ruling that struck down his government’s ban on wearing face veils during ceremonies that confer citizenship.
Earlier this month, Canada’s Federal Court ruled that a portion of the law requiring citizenship candidates to remove their face coverings while taking the oath of citizenship was unconstitutional.
The court found that the ban, introduced in 2011, violated the government’s own regulations, which required citizenship judges to “allow the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization” of the oath.
The case was brought forward by a Muslim woman from the Toronto area who wears a niqab when in public and wanted to take the oath of citizenship while veiled.
Zunera Ishaq, a 29-year-old former high school teacher from Pakistan who came to Canada in 2008, told reporters she saw Ottawa’s policy as “a personal attack on me and Muslim women like me.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking in Quebec a few days after the court made its ruling public, said his Conservative government will appeal the decision.
“I believe, and I think most Canadians believe, that it is offensive that someone would hide their identity at the very moment where they are committing to join the Canadian family,” he told reporters. “This is a society that is transparent, open, and where people are equal.”