New Canadian citizens must remove any face coverings while they take the oath of citizenship, the country’s immigration minister said Monday.
Jason Kenney said most Canadians find the practice of reciting the oath behind a veil disturbing and said new Canadians should take it in view of their fellow citizens. He said he has received complaints from lawmakers and citizenship judges who say it’s difficult to ensure that individuals whose faces are covered are actually reciting the oath.
The Conservative minister called the issue a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of Canada’s identity and the country’s values of openness and equality. He said women who feel obliged to have their faces covered in public often come from a cultural milieu that treats women as property rather than equal human beings
“I do think that most Canadians find that disquieting to say the least,” Kenney said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
“Most Muslim Canadian women I know find the practice of face covering in our society disturbing, indicative of an approach to women that is not consistent with our democratic values,” Kenney added.