WOMEN PARTICIPATING IN CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES WILL HAVE TO REMOVE THEIR NIQABS OR ANY OTHER FACE-COVERINGS SUCH AS BURKAS, UNDER NEW REGULATIONS.
Credits: (Michael Buholzer/REUTERS File)
If you want to become a Canadian, you’ll have to show your face.
Under sweeping regulations that take effect Monday, Muslim women will have to remove their niqabs or any other face-coverings such as burkas before reciting the oath of citizenship to become Canadian, QMI Agency has learned.
Those participating in citizenship ceremonies – the final step in the process to officially become a Canadian – will be given two warnings to unveil themselves.
The first would be upon arrival, when a department official will explain the requirement. If the person refuses, a citizenship judge will ask the individual to show her face before reading the oath.
If the person refuses the second request, the judge will ask them to leave, putting their citizenship in jeopardy. But they will be given other opportunities at future citizenship ceremonies if they change their mind.
If they don’t, they will remain permanent residents and give up their right to vote, run for office and hold certain jobs. Permanent residents can be deported for serious crimes.
The new rule requires the citizenship judge to see the person’s face as the oath is being spoken. Once the oath is completed and the national anthem sung, the individual can cover her face and begin a new life in Canada as a citizen.
The new rule is part of a wider package of reforms Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has implemented throughout the department.
Last week he announced a crackdown on immigration fraudsters.
On the citizenship front, Kenney has toughened rules since the Conservatives took office, including introducing language tests to ensure would-be Canadians are proficient in one of the two official languages.
Immigrants are also required to know more about Canada and its history than previously as part of the citizenship process.
The latest change is sure to stir a backlash in some quarters as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government puts its stamp on citizenship and immigration.
Last week, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on a case that pits the right of religious freedom against the rights of the accused to a fair trial.
An unidentified Muslim woman wants to wear a niqab in court when she testifies against two relatives she accuses of sexually assaulting her when she was a child. The accused argue they should be able to see their accuser’s face.
France enacted legislation this year that bans niqabs from being worn in public places and other face-covering veils, including masks, balaclavas and helmets. Violators face fines.