Thursday, 12 March 2015

Facial Coverings

In the wake of the Quebec student protests of 2012 a law was passed that enabled the police to preemptively arrest protesters if they wore facial coverings.  At the time I felt this was going a bit too far, but by the same token, if you support a certain cause why cover your face in the first place?  The only reason a person would cover themselves was if they were planning to cause some sort of trouble and didn't want to be easily identified.  Criminals often wear masks when committing crimes, after all.

Now we have a case of a Muslim woman who wants to become a Canadian citizen but refuses to remove her face-covering niqab for the citizenship oath.  She called it "mandatory" for her faith and "integral to the modesty that a Muslim woman must show."  Well I know several Muslim women who wear just a hijab and they feel perfectly at ease with that, so the niqab hardly seems "mandatory".

In 2011 there was a niqab ban put in place which caused a huge controversy, and the then-immigration minister said: "This (the citizenship oath) is an act of public witness, you are standing up in front of your fellow citizens making a solemn commitment to be loyal to the country... I do not know how you can do that from behind a kind of a mask."

Several days ago, that ban was struck down by a federal judge.  The Prime Minister's office is appealing the decision.

My opinion on the matter is this: in Canada we need to have our faces uncovered when having photos taken for an official ID like a medical card, driver's licence, or passport.  It's only fair to have one's face uncovered when taking the citizenship oath.  Allow the woman to take the oath in a separate room and/or with a female officiant present but the niqab should be removed for such.  Religion has nothing to do with it.

If you won't uncover your face for such an important step, sorry, you don't qualify.


  1. More and more of the way we were and what made us great countries (US and Canada) are being etched away. Soon we won't remember who we were. All rules, laws, etc were not made and stood for such a long time just to be simply overturned.

  2. Very interesting problem, and good solution about taking it off for only a female present for the oath. Won't do good for the driver's license and/or Passport problem though, and they would be useless as ID without her face. On the other hand...not every citizen has a passport or license, so maybe she just wasn't planning on getting those.

    1. Granted, not everyone drives a vehicle but a passport is a good thing to have as an alternate form of ID if one doesn't have a driver's license.