I read an article yesterday on CBC. Now, I am not Muslim, I am just an ordinary citizen of Canada, and Mr. Prime Minister I disagree with you. For a minute, I invite you to look at this from the perspective of the devout Muslim woman whom you are asking to give up a fundamental right.
This woman has come to Canada with her family, broken ties with her native land for better opportunities for her children. It is likely she comes from a country where she is being persecuted for her religious beliefs. She has read about Canada, a great and free land, which promises in its Charter of Rights, fundamental freedoms which she doesn’t have in her country, including freedom of conscience and religion.
Becoming a Canadian citizen for most is a moment of pride, of achievement, of belonging and acceptance. So imagine the mental torture inflicted on this woman when at this moment she is asked to either subvert her conscience and her religion or forego Canadian Citizenship, a goal she and her family have sacrificed for. You must remember that this woman has probably worn the niqab for most of her adult life, never taking it off in front of strangers, specially men. Your direction for her to remove this piece of clothing is akin to asking her to disrobe.
I don’t understand Mr. Prime Minister why you think that most Canadians would want to see this woman remove her Niqab? If she believes she is following her religion then most Canadians would want to defend her Charter Rights because that means they are defending their own rights as well. Why would they want to allow you, your ministers or any other member of government to decide what constitutes their religious beliefs.
If this was only a matter of identifying this woman, to make sure it is indeed the same person who is mentioned in the documents, this can be done in private with a female official from CIC and then the woman in question can continue to the ceremony keeping her dignity and religious beliefs intact and go on to be a law abiding Canadian citizen.
I urge you to reconsider your decision to appeal this ruling as you are wasting tax payer money to impose your will upon Canadian citizens and affect their Charter Right to freedom of conscience and religion.
To my fellow Canadians I will say this, today these ministers, instead of upholding the law and protecting our Charter of Rights, are creating division based on their personal bias and views. Tomorrow, they may not like something another group of us does and they will apply that same baton to that group. This is not just about a Muslim woman and her Niqab, this is about upholding our Charter of Rights, so please let these politicians know that we will not tolerate this.