MONTREAL (The Blaze/AP) -- Canada's immigration minister says new Canadians will have to remove any face-coverings, such as the Islamic niqab or burqa, while they take the oath of citizenship. The controversial ban on these religious garments will begin immediately.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Monday he's received complaints from lawmakers and citizenship judges who say it's difficult to ensure that individuals whose faces are covered are actually reciting the oath.
Kenney says it's also a question of values. He says new Canadians should be taking the oath in view of their fellow citizens. According to CBC News, he said that such a pledge is a "public declaration that you are joining the Canadian family and it must be taken freely and openly." He went on to call it "bizarre" that women were previously allowed to take oaths with face veils. CBC has more:
Kenney said he doesn't accept that it's a religious obligation to wear the veil, explaining that when Muslim women perform the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca required by their faith, they are required not to cover their faces.
"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 said in an interview on CBC News Network.
The location of the announcement was not without symbolism. The French-speaking province of Quebec has had debates over how much should Canada bend to accommodate newcomers.