[JURIST] Canada’s Minister of Justice and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship issued a joint statement [text] on Monday announcing that the government will withdraw an appeal that sought to require removal of the niqab for citizenship ceremonies. A niqab is a veil worn by some Muslim women that covers part of the face. The case was originally brought by Zunera Ishaq against the Canadian government after she refused [JURIST report] to take the oath of citizenship if she had to remove her niqab. A lower court ruled that this requirement was unlawful and an appeals court upheld that decision. The ministers said they respect the decision of the courts and added: “Canada’s diversity is among its greatest strengths, and today we have ensured that successful citizenship candidates continue to be included in the Canadian family. We are a strong and united country because of, not in spite of, our differences.”
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. Australia’s Parliament House lifted a ban [JURIST report] on face veils including burqas and niqabs in October 2014. In July 2014 the European Court of Human Rights ruled [JURIST report] that France’s face covering ban is permissible under European law. 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.