Burqa ban: Canada prohibits Muslim veil in citizenship ceremonies (VIDEO)
Canada's ban follows those of France, Tunisia, Turkey, and Syria, and is meant to ensure that those taking the oath of citizenship are actually reciting the oath.
Canada, a country that prides itself on having one of the world’s most liberal systems for immigration, just banned women from wearing veils while taking the oath of citizenship.Skip to next paragraph
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Limited to citizenship ceremonies, Canada’s new rules make it the second nation after France to ban face-covering garments in public, although there are a number of countries in Europe that have begun to target Islamic fashion and religious observance in the past few years.
France’s conservative government passed a veil ban in October 2010, a law that went into force in April 2011. The Netherlands also indicated in September that it would impose a ban on veils because the “wearing of clothing that completely or almost entirely covers the face is fundamentally at odds with public life.” In August 2009, Switzerland outlawed the construction of new minarets at Swiss mosques.
Canada’s minister of citizenship and immigration, Jason Kenney, told reporters that he found it “bizarre” that Canada’s rules had once allowed women to wear face-concealing garments during their citizenship ceremonies.
"Frankly, I found it bizarre that the rules allowed people to take the oath with a veil on,” Mr. Kenney was quoted by the Guardian newspaper as saying. "It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality."
It might not be immediately apparent why three secular nations with long-liberal policies of immigration would suddenly want to take on the question of what Muslim citizens wear in public. But these bans come at a time of severe economic distress, when the influx of outsiders – and particularly those distinguished by their clothing – from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia have become points of domestic tension. When conservatives warning of “creeping sharia law” in Western society meet up with liberals worried about the supposed “dehumanizing” effects of Muslim dress on women, such bans can become popular.
But popularity aside, critics warn that bans on veils can also alienate Muslims who are attempting to integrate into Western society, and undermine the very notions of tolerance that Western societies once treasured.