Women refusing to remove niqab in Canada will be charged

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TORONTO - After the landmark niqab ban in French-speaking Quebec province last week, Canadian police now say they will charge anyone refusing to remove face-coverings, including niqab, when being booked after arrest.

Under Canadian laws, police always take mug shots of the offenders after their arrest.

Though no Muslim woman with a niqab has been arrested in the country yet, police said Tuesday that anyone refusing to remove face-coverings for a mug shot will face charges.

Outraged over the new developments, Wahida Valiante of the Canadian Islamic Congress told the Canadian Press, \”This is getting absurd, really.There are only, in the entire Quebec province, 25 women who wear the niqab so they can\’t be in the highest number of criminals expected to be arrested.\’\’

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) - the country\’s national police force - the Identification of Criminals Act allows them to use \’reasonable force\’ to remove face-coverings if someone doesn\’t comply with their orders.

The niqab issue hot up in Canada after an Egyptian immigrant woman refused to remove her niqab during her French language classes in a Montreal college. The college said it tried to accommodate the Muslim woman by giving her the front seat so that she didn\’t face male students and allowing her to make presentations from the back of the class.

However, the woman was thrown out after she refused to sit with other students around a U-table for classes in French conversation. After the incident, the Quebec government outlawed the niqab, denying government services to anyone with the veil.

The police in Montreal, where the controversy started, said if someone refuses to remove face-coverings \”the law has consequences for the person.\’\’

Four in five Canadians have backed the ban on the niqab which still has no restriction in the rest of the country. Currently, there are about a million Muslims in Canada\’s population of 34 million, and their numbers will triple in two decades, says Statistics Canada.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at

Filed under: Immigration

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