You Cannot Wear A Face Veil During Your Canadian Citizenship Oath

Face coverings during Canadian Citizenship oath banned

On Monday, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said that effective immediately, face coverings are not allowed when people take the Canadian Citizenship oath.

What this really means is that Muslim women will not be allowed to wear burkas, niqabs or anything that covers their faces – and most importantly, mouths, because Kenney said his reasoning is that when people cover their mouths they may only be “pretending” to take the Canadian Citizenship oath.

Many people who aren’t of the Muslim faith are sometimes confused about what the reasoning is behind women covering their bodies and faces. The reasons Muslim women wear these coverings are as diverse as the individual women themselves: yes, a small majority come from oppressive countries and are made to wear them (by their misogynistic governments, not their religion) over there, but most others choose to wear them as a symbol of their faith, just as a Christian may wear a crucifix necklace and Hasidic women wear scarves to cover their hair. The belief that all Muslim women are forced to wear these coverings by men in their culture is false.

Banning religious garb during Canadian Citizenship oath is un-Canadian

This banning of the face coverings in Canada effectively removes the element of choice for these women and ironically forces them to dress against their wishes while ignoring their religious preferences, which is decidedly un-Canadian.

“It’s a cultural tradition, which I think reflects a certain view about women that we don’t accept in Canada. We want women to be full and equal members of Canadian society and certainly when they’re taking the citizenship oath, that’s the right place to start,” Kenney told CBC News Network.

But isn’t a major part of Canada our diverse society, our multiculturalism and our freedom of religion? The majority of these women, to become full and equal members of Canadian society, should be entitled to wear their choice of clothing just as anyone else is free to choose to not wear a face covering as a part of their religion or non-religion. Banning the veil is, in actuality, an easy way to make these women feel unwanted and uncomfortable in Canada.

The Canadian Citizenship oath is an important part of becoming Canadian. But singling out those who have their faces covered is pointless – anyone could be mouthing the words, or not saying the oath, etc. because it is done in unison as a large group. If it is so unclear, how about having new Canadians say the oath individually so they can each be heard, loud and proud?

What are your thoughts? Should Muslim women be forced to remove their face coverings when taking the Canadian Citizenship oath?

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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