Manitoba

Member of Winnipeg's Muslim community reacts to niqab ruling, appeal

Ifrah Zohair does not wear a niqab but she says she feels discriminated against, nonetheless. “For me it’s that the government is prejudice against Muslim women and their beliefs. That’s the message I’m getting from the government,” she told CBC.
Ifrah Zohair, 20, says she's happy the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the government's ban on niqabs at citizenship ceremonies. She says she is disappointed the government plans to appeal the decision if re-elected on Oct 19. (supplied photo)

Ifrah Zohair does not wear a niqab but she says she feels discriminated against, nonetheless.

"For me it's that the government is prejudice against Muslim women and their beliefs. That's the message I'm getting," she told CBC.

The third-year science student at the University of Manitoba describes herself as an "avid volunteer" in Winnipeg's Muslim community. Zohair chooses to wear a hijab, or headscarf.

She says she was happy with the Court's decision on Tuesday. "I strongly believe that people should be allowed to express themselves and if that means expressing their religion, regardless of what their religion is, they should be allowed to do that."

On Wednesday, Conservatives pledged to appeal the Federal Court ruling that allows niqabs or face-coverings at citizenship ceremonies if they are re-elected in October.

"I do not believe that the public declaration of your loyalty to your fellow citizens should be obscured or hidden," said multiculturalism minister and Conservative candidate for Calgary Southeast Jason Kenney, on Wednesday.

"I think it's entirely reasonable to ask, for those 30 seconds, that someone proudly demonstrate their loyalty to Canada." Kenney said.

Asking a person to change who they are to take the citizenship oath undermines Canadian values said Zohair.

"Canada prides itself on being a cultural mosaic not a melting pot," she said, "These kinds of decisions or appeals that the government is making it's challenging that."

Zohair said she worries the message to Muslim Canadians is that they are not welcome in Canada unless we "act a certain way" or "dress a certain way."

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