Thursday, December 15, 2011

PoliticsCanada: Swearing Oaths: Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kennedy negates niqabs and burkas at naturalization-citizenship ceremonies


Cardus Blog (December 15, 2k11)
Veiled Interference in Freedom of Religion
by Ray Pennings
Intro material reposted here by Politicarp

For the record, I think Minister Jason Kenney is right in insisting that when taking the oath of citizenship, new Canadians are required to show their faces. He is quoted as saying, “The citizenship oath is a quintessentially public act. It is a public declaration that you are joining the Canadian family and it must be taken freely and openly.”
The issue is controversial, of course, due to the practice of certain Muslim women of wearing a niqab or burka in public. While Minister Kenney’s edict sounds reasonable, as Peter Stockland noted in this space yesterday, the response of outrage to the announcement also sounds reasonable. Recognizing that freedom of religion is a greatly attacked freedom these days, I am usually inclined to bend over backwards to protect it, but here—in matters as basic to our citizenship as swearing public oaths, establishing identity, or witnessing at a trial—I think the state has a more reasonable argument, to ensure it functions properly. These essential processes in the state’s functioning are part and parcel of the very package of freedoms that allow for the freedom of religion, which in my mind does allow for the wearing of religious head coverings on other occasions.

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