The Federal Court of Appeal in Canada has ruled that Muslim women will not be banned from wearing a face-covering veil (or “niqab”) when they take their citizenship oath. The case started when Zunera Ishaq, a Pakistani woman who has been a permanent resident of Canada since 2008 refused to take off her niqab to take her citizenship oath, arguing it would violate her religious beliefs. A federal court ruled the policy was “unlawful” in February and, on Tuesday, the appeals court confirmed that ruling almost immediately – making sure Ishaq could take her oath in time to vote in next month’s federal election. While her lawyers said they were “extremely pleased” with the decision, the ruling Conservative Party expressed its disappointment in a statement, announcing it would explore “all legal options”. The statement read: “We believe that citizenship candidates should take the Oath of Citizenship publicly with their face uncovered, which is consistent with Canadian values of openness, social cohesion, and equality.”
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