Woman at heart of niqab debate granted citizenship in private ceremony

MISSISSAUGA, Ont,Canada.€” The woman who won the legal right to wear a niqab during her citizenship oath has officially become Canadian.

Zunera Ishaq’s lawyer Lorne Waldman says the 29-year-old was granted citizenship today in a private ceremony in Mississauga, west of Toronto.

Media photos show her taking the oath wearing a floral-patterned niqab. She had previously said she wished to obtain citizenship in time to vote in the federal election on Oct. 19.

Ishaq’s case has proved a polarizing issue during the election – one she says has tarnished Canadians’ views of her fellow Muslims.

The controversy stems from a 2011 government policy banning new Canadians from wearing face coverings while taking their citizenship oaths.

Ishaq refused to do so on religious grounds, and her efforts to challenge the new rules ended up before the courts.

The Federal Court of Canada found the policy unlawful in February, and the Federal Court of Appeal recently upheld the ruling.

The government has refused to back down, however, saying the issue will now be heard before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has consistently argued that showing one’s face at the moment of becoming a Canadian citizen is consistent with Canada’s values and a necessary measure to ensure national security.