Niqab ban for public servants would be considered: Stephen Harper

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 10:43 GMT, Oct 7, 2015 |

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says his government would consider banning public servants from wearing the niqab, but rejects the suggestion that recent assaults against Muslim women should stifle debate about the issue.

“Look, I don’t think you can use that kind of thing to discredit legitimate political debate,” Harper said in an interview.

“Violence against women is unacceptable, which is why our government has brought forward laws to crack down on such violence.”

The Conservatives’ steps to ban wearing a niqab while taking the citizenship oath, along with the campaign pledge to create a “barbaric cultural practices” tip line, have led some to accuse the party of engaging in identity politics and fuelling anti-Muslim sentiment.

The latest niqab controversy arose after Zunera Ishaq, a Muslim woman, went to court to challenge the government’s ban. On Monday, the Federal Court of Appeal denied the application for a stay of the Federal Court ruling in favour of Ishaq, clearing the way for her to wear a niqab during a citizenship ceremony.