The Canadian government has announced it will bar all women from wearing face coverings from taking part in citizenship ceremonies in a move that appeared largely aimed at Muslim fundamentalists.
"To segregate one group of Canadians or allow them to hide their faces, to hide their identity from us, precisely when they are joining our community, is contrary to Canada's proud commitment," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said. "You should be willing to show who you are in that public act of witness. I think it's very straightforward."
Kenney said he had received complaints from citizenship judges and parliamentarians about veiled women taking the oath to formally become Canadian.
The announcement might well trigger a court challenge from those who say the restriction violates freedom of religion provisions under Canada's constitution.
"That would be very uncomfortable," Wahida Valiante, vice president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, told Reuters in Toronto, "because they have not made that choice themselves and also this is their religious duty."
Some European countries, including France and Belgium, ban the wearing of full-face Islamic veils, also known as the burqa or niqab, in public.
compiled from agency reports