Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday March 13, 2015
Niqab debate important for Canadians, religious freedoms, ambassador says
Canada’s ambassador for religious freedoms says he thinks it’s important that Canadians are having a debate about the place of the niqab in society.
Andrew Bennett says his office doesn’t get involved in domestic political issues; its mandate is to advocate for religious freedoms abroad.
But Bennett says he’s aware how fraught the issue of the niqab can be and that it’s important for Canadians to have a say.
The Conservative government’s decision to appeal a Federal Court ruling allowing a woman to have her face covered by a niqab while reciting the oath of citizenship has sparked a heated debate about religious rights in Canada.
The government argues Canadian values are at stake while the opposition says to ban the niqab goes against those very same values.
Bennett says he thinks the fact that Parliament is having what he calls a robust debate on the subject is wonderful and proof Canadian institutions are functioning.
Bennett spoke to The Canadian Press on Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference on religious freedoms in Ottawa. That same day, federal Conservatives were scrambling to clarify that their aversion to Muslim women wearing the niqab applies strictly to citizenship ceremonies.
But they struggled to explain why wearing the face-covering veil is no big deal in other spheres of life, including the federal public service, if — as Prime Minister Stephen Harper maintains — it’s contrary to Canadian values and “rooted in a culture that is anti-women.”
“That is what the prime minister said and that is a point of view that one can hold,” said Treasury Board President Tony Clement, who is responsible for federal civil service. (Source: Globe & Mail)
Posted (with much negative reaction) at Yahoo News Canada.
Canadians debate the place of the niqab in western society #cdnpoli #niqab http://t.co/xalFrBxaLm pic.twitter.com/OFWlFgQEXa
— Graeme MacKay (@mackaycartoons) March 12, 2015