Zunera Ishaq, a former high school teacher from Pakistan, fought for her right to wear her niqab during her citizenship ceremony in Canada.
Wearing the veil that covers her face is a part of her Muslim faith. Ishaq’s desire to wear the niqab touched off a firestorm as there is currently a law that forbids wearing anything that covers the face during the ceremony, with no exemption made for religion. Despite a ruling in ’s favor earlier this month, the federal ruling that denounces the policy is being challenged by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
A Matter Of Faith
Despite accusations to the contrary, Zunera Ishaq says that nobody is forcing her to wear her niqab. She wears it as a means of asserting her identity and exerting her faith as a Muslim. This symbol of empowerment is meant to show that she is not an oppressed individual, and she is willing to continue fighting for her right to wear the niqab.
Ishaq has said that she is willing to unveil herself for confirmation at the site of the ceremony, but that she will fight for the right to wear it during the actual ceremony. For the time being, she has postponed her citizenship ceremony in hopes that the federal judge ruling would be upheld and Harper’s attempt to deny niqab coverings would be denied.
— CBC Radio (@cbcradio) February 22, 2015
Zunera Ishaq continued to say that she believes that it is her right as a Canadian to wear her veil, and that it is not the place of the Prime Minister to decide which cultural practices are the only acceptable ones. In short, she said “This is the beautiful part of Canada — every person here is free to live in a way in which he or she feels it is right or not.”
Not Everyone Agrees
Prime Minister Stephen Harper does not agree with being able to wear any type of facial covering during a citizenship ceremony. He insists that it is offensive to hide one’s face at the moment that they are proclaiming that they are a citizen of Canada. His beliefs form an interesting take on religious freedom in Canada, a nation renowned for welcoming individuals of all faiths. While the western nation welcomes religions, it also demands that certain expectations are made in consideration of the state.
Social analysts have said that people in the west tend to rely on using your facial emotions to discover your feelings or intents, and that may play a part in the desire to not allow niqabs to be used in public places. Still, with only the challenge from Harper stopping her, Zunera Ishaq is hoping to be able to confirm her Canadian citizenship in the near future while wearing her niqab.