Quebec Seeks to Lift the Face Veil

March 23, 2010

Author: Joan Delaney

Source: The Epoch Times

Women who wear the niqab—full face-veil—must uncover their faces when applying for a medicare card in Quebec in order to ascertain their identity, the province’s human rights commission has said.

Niqab-wearing women also do not have the right to insist on being served by a female employee, the commission said in an opinion last week.

Asking a woman to uncover her face “in a neutral and administrative framework in a short period of time” does not infringe on the freedom of religion guaranteed in Quebec’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, said the ruling.

The decision comes as the Quebec government is preparing new guidelines on the wearing of religious symbols for those using public services after a woman wearing a niqab was expelled from two separate government-funded language classes in Montreal.

Naema Ahmed, a 29-year-old Egyptian pharmacist, was accepted into a French course while wearing the niqab—a style of headwear that leaves only the eyes exposed. When Ahmed, who sat in the front row, was asked to make an oral presentation facing the class, she refused because there were male students in the classroom.