A photo from the Facebook page called Any mummers 'lowed to vote.
The woman at heart of niqab debate finally becomes a Canadian citizen.
Zunera Ishaq delayed her citizenship ceremony because she felt it was her right to wear the head covering, which is symbolic of her religious beliefs, while taking the oath. Our charter guarantees freedom of religion, but the law required women to remove head and face coverings to take the citizenship oath
The Federal Court of Canada found the ban on head coverings unlawful in February.
Zunera Ishaq – the woman at the centre of the niqab controversy – finally became a Canadian citizen Friday. In a ceremony Ishaq, 29, took the citizenship oath while wearing her niqab – a right she fought for and won after a lengthy legal battle.
Ishaq, a Mississauga resident, mother of four and a former English literature teacher, has been wearing the niqab since she was 15. She sees it as a symbol of her faith, and felt it was her right to wear it while taking the citizenship oath.
In December 2011 the then-minister of immigration, Jason Kenney had banned the wearing of a niqab while taking the oath of citizenship. He brought in the ban in an operational manual that outlined a series of measures he said were designed to strengthen the integrity of Canadian citizenship. ( a good cover for a racist )
Ishaq was to become a citizen in 2012, but didn’t want to take off her veil to say the oath of citizenship and the legal battle began. She put her citizenship ceremony on hold until her case was heard. She fought hard and spoke out about the religious freedoms granted to other cultures in Canada. Why should she be an exception in a democracy, where the right of religious freedom is quite clear in the charter of rights? The Federal Court of Canada found the ban unlawful in February....Good call! (The 'Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms' guarantees Freedom of religion in Canada is a constitutionally protected right, allowing believers the freedom to assemble and worship without limitation or interference.) ( Get it? No interference. )
Ishaq’s fight to wear the niqab has become part of a political firestorm unleashed by the Conservatives. The courts have rejected the Harper government's attempt to force Ishaq to unveil her face during a citizenship ceremony and reinstate the ban.
Earlier this week, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said his party plans to ban federal civil servants from wearing niqabs. And he says that the party is examining Quebec’s Bill 94, which requires Muslim women or others who wear face coverings to remove them if they want to work in the public sector or do business with government officials.
Harper’s statements come on the heels of the Conservative government failure to overturn the Federal Court of Appeal decision in Ishaq’s case. That court ruled the government policy banning the wearing of a niqab – which covers a woman’s face and hair leaving only her eyes visible while taking the oath of citizenship – is illegal. Ottawa had tried to get that ruling stayed, but the courts rejected the move, leaving the door open for Ishaq to take her citizenship oath Friday and become a Canadian citizen.
In an interview with the Star Thursday, Ishaq talked about the importance of wearing the niqab and her rights and the rights of all Canadians to choose. The niqab “is part of my faith. I feel I can’t go without this piece of cloth anywhere in public . . . This is a religious practice for me.”
She says she believes “the government is trying to divert the attention of people from real issues of the political campaign by using the issue of the niqab.”
Who was that masked voter? That seems to be the refrain around the country as face coverings of all kinds appear to be a growing trend in the Canadian election.Over the Thanksgiving long weekend, various people in Newfoundland, Quebec and Alberta were photographed in garb ranging from clown costumes to horses heads casting their ballot in advance polls.
It seems the purpose for doing so is to mock Stephen Harper’s focus on the niqab and using it as a political ploy. Then there are voters on the other side of the coin, taking the stand that niqabs have no place in the business of the nation. And they are also showing up at the polls in masks.
In fact, a Quebec woman launched the Facebook group “Le 19 octobre, on vote à visage couvert!” encouraging people to cover their faces when they vote. Just prior to the advance polls over the Thanksgiving long weekend, Catherine Leclerc said she had more than 9,000 people pledging to do so.
Leclerc said she created the call to cover up because she has been frustrated by the inability of governments to ban religious garb. She emphasizes that her action isn’t against any particular group but just a demand for secularism in the democratic process. Members of the group are now posting pictures of themselves at the advance polls wearing all kinds of bizarre outfits from pirate gear to a horse head to fancy Venetian masks. One man who dressed in his own version of a niqab using what looked like a checkered tablecloth. Many others simply wrapped their heads with the Quebec flag.
In Dorval, a man voted while clad in a clown’s costume while another man in Gatineau, just across the river from Ottawa, voted in a ghost costume and a woman wearing a potato sack on her head cast her ballot .
Quebec comedian Adib Alkhalidey took to his Facebook page to mock those who felt the need to make a statement about the niqab, urging those who did so to wear a penis on their head the next time they make love to ensure the humanity of future generations.
Though he got more than 8,000 likes, Alkhalidey also attracted a lot of negative reaction, with some urging him to return to his country. Alkhalidey says he can’t do that since he’s lived in Quebec all his life.
According to Elections Canada rules, citizens are allowed to vote with a face covering.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of covering it is. It can be a mask or a niqab but there is nothing to stop electors from showing up with a covering. They are all welcome, in any kind of costume,” Dugald Maudsley of Elections Canada said.
“When they do have [a face covering] they are offered a choice: show their face or take an oath attesting to their eligibility to vote and provide two pieces of identification, one of which has to have a current address.” As long as they show up to vote Maudsley is happy.“Clearly people are going to show up a variety of costumes in this election.”
Maudsley says he doesn’t know of any circumstance yet in which a voter has been turned away simply because he/she has a face covering. Maudsley also noted that Canadians can vote by mail and in that case, aren’t required to provide a photo ID.
It’s not just a Quebec trend. St. John’s, N.L., businessman Jon Keefe decided he had enough of the niqab debate, which he felt detracted from real issues. He called out to his fellow Newfoundlanders on Facebook to show up as mummers.
The province has a Christmas tradition of mummering in which people dress up in strange costumes and go from house to house to dance and to drink.
Keefe showed up at a poll on Saturday in a floral dress, florescent yellow pantyhose and an elaborate face mask.
“There’s a mistaken belief that covering your face is somehow against Canadian values,” he told The Telegram newspaper.
The idea is taking hold and spreading across the country. People in Alberta are voting in ski masks and cowboy hats with kerchiefs over their faces.
Gale Throne of Calgary posted a video saying she voted in a full ski mask to prove that she could have been anyone. Throne railed against what she sees as bending over for “political correctness.”
“All they did was pull out a little green book and said, ‘Are you such-and-such a person?’ I said ‘yes’ and that was it. And off I went to vote. Wow.”People are starting to have fun with this and trying to top each other's costumes. It is turning into a big street party. And this is just the 'advance polls'. It will be amusing to see what turns up at the polls on election day...Crazy Canadians. Well, why not? It's almost Halloween.