Court dismisses appeal over niqab at citizenship ceremonies - Macleans.ca

Court dismisses appeal over niqab at citizenship ceremonies

Harper government’s rule banning face coverings at citizenship ceremonies had earlier been found unlawful

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Zunera Ishaq. (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

Zunera Ishaq. (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

OTTAWA – A Federal Court of Appeal panel has dismissed a government appeal over a ban on face coverings at citizenship ceremonies.

The three justices ruled from the bench, saying they wanted to proceed quickly so that Zunera Ishaq, the woman who initially challenged the ban, can obtain her citizenship in time to vote in the Oct. 19 federal election.

Ishaq, a 29-year-old woman with devout Muslim beliefs who came to Ontario from Pakistan in 2008, refused to take part in a citizenship ceremony because she would have to show her face.

The Harper government’s rule banning face coverings at such ceremonies was earlier found unlawful by the Federal Court.

Justice Department lawyer Peter Southey argued unsuccessfully that the lower court justice made errors in his original decision to overturn the ban.

Appeal Justice Mary Gleason said the court say no reason to interfere with earlier ruling

The ban on face coverings sparked a bitter debate in the House of Commons when it was first announced.

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