[JURIST] A Canadian court on Tuesday ruled that women may be allowed to wear face-covering veils during swearing the oath of citizenship. The case, heard by a Federal Court of Appeal [official website], was brought by Zunera Ishaq against the Canadian government after she arrived from Pakistan in 2008 and would not take part in the swearing of the oath because she was required to remove her niqab. Ishaq, 29, is a devout Muslim currently living in Ontario. A lower Federal Court [official website] had ruled that the government’s ban on face coverings was unlawful. Justice Mary Gleason stated [AP report] that the appeals court saw no reason to interfere with the previous ruling. The lawyer for the Department of Justice [official website] unsuccessfully argued that the lower court erred in its decision. The appeals court hurried their decision so that Ishaq could participate in the elections coming up on October 19.
Face veils and other symbols of Islam have been a controversial subject around the world. In July after suicide bombings in Fotokol by two women wearing burkas, Northern Cameroon banned [JURIST report] women from wearing burkas and face-covering veils. The suicide bombers smuggled the bombs into public areas by hiding them under their veils. In July 2014 the European Court of Human Rights ruled [JURIST report] that France’s face covering ban is permissible under European law. In SAS v. France the court ruled 15-2 that the ban, which became effective in 2011, complies with all articles of the Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and, as a result, does not violate the respondent’s freedom of religion. In February 2013 the Spanish Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a city ban on wearing veils over the face in municipal buildings, finding that the law infringes on religious freedom.