The woman who fought for the right to wear a niqab during her Canadian citizenship oath took part in the ceremony Friday — wearing a white and pink niqab.
Zunera Ishaq had hoped to be able to take the oath in time to vote in the Oct. 19 federal election.
Ishaq was unexpectedly thrust in the spotlight earlier in the campaign when the Federal Court of Appeal upheld a ruling saying she could wear a niqab during her citizenship oath.
The niqab, a veil worn by some Muslim women which covers part of the face, has since become a heated — and highly divisive — debate among political leaders.
Recently Global News spoke with the Mississauga, Ont., woman, who said she doesn’t believe the niqab should be an election issue.
“There are so many other issues in the campaign right now, they should be focusing on them,” Ishaq said.
Ishaq came to Canada from Pakistan in 2008. The 29-year-old mother of four is university educated and spends time volunteering at women’s shelters. She never imaged she would become the veiled face of a political hot potato.
Back in March, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said in the House of Commons that the wearing of a niqab is a practice “rooted in a culture that is anti-women” and that it was “offensive” for someone to cover their face during a citizenship ceremony.
The Liberal and NDP leaders have made it clear they do not agree.
Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau has urged Harper to drop the niqab issue, while NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has accused him of using the niqab as a “weapon of mass distraction.”
On Tuesday Harper made headlines again when he said he would consider banning all public servants from wearing a niqab; the Public Service Alliance of Canada quickly shot back at Harper, saying the ban would violate its collective agreement.
The union also said it was not aware of any members actually wearing a niqab.
Ishaq has said the niqab debate has made some Muslims feel targeted. “Maybe they’re not intentionally doing this but they have done this,” she said.