---- oh dear.
didn't see this already posted by anyone, so...........
Zunera Ishaq: “I do respect Canadian society as it is.” J.P. Moczulski for National Post/Files
The devout Muslim woman fighting to wear a niqab while taking the citizenship oath told a government lawyer last year she is in favour of separating men and women in some circumstances in her native Pakistan.
But in an interview Tuesday, Zunera Ishaq said she does not advocate such segregation in Canada.
“I’m not seeking any such separation,” she said. “I do respect Canadian society as it is.”
Her comments may add fuel to a national debate between the Conservative government, which says it is trying to uphold Canadian values with the niqab ban, and opposition critics, who say the government is disrespecting religious freedoms.
Ms. Ishaq, of Mississauga, Ont., shared her views on gender segregation during the discovery last April after she filed her legal challenge. A transcript was among the exhibits recently filed by the government in its appeal of last month’s Federal Court ruling overturning the ban on wearing the niqab in citizenship ceremonies.
During cross-examination, Negar Hashemi, the government’s lawyer, asked Ms. Ishaq why she preferred to live in Canada, rather than Pakistan, “a country with Islamic laws that includes your religious views.”
The woman replied she considered Pakistan a Muslim country, but not an Islamic one, because it was “not obeying the laws in, like, whatever Islam has told us to do.”
Males and females, for instance, are not educated in separate classrooms, she said. “They are not following this rule back home … it’s been co-education.”
She added there are “a lot of … fields” in the workplace where there could be a separation of genders, “but there is no separation.”
Asked by Ms. Hashemi whether she would like to see men and women separate during Canada’s citizenship ceremonies, Ms. Ishaq said such a move would “definitely give me something more than I asked” and her main objective was being allowed to keep her face covered while saying the oath.
“But if after that they can do for me some separation, it’s more than — yes, I do appreciate for this, too.”
On Tuesday, she said if the niqab ban were lifted, there would be no need for such an accommodation.
At one point in the cross-examination, Ms. Ishaq acknowledged she unveiled herself to get her driver’s licence photo and the photo was taken in a public space.
Ms. Hashemi suggested she should do the same to become a Canadian citizen.
“I would suggest to you that it does not take much longer [to say the oath] than the time it took to take your picture,” the government lawyer said.
But Ms. Ishaq said the purpose of unveiling for the driver’s licence was for identity and security, which was not the case when taking the citizenship oath. (She has said she has no problem confirming her identity in a private room before the ceremony.)
Ms. Ishaq, the mother of three, was sponsored to Canada by her husband and became a permanent resident in 2008. She was scheduled to attend a citizenship ceremony in January 2014, but postponed that to launch a legal challenge of the niqab ban, which was introduced in late 2011.
In a ruling last month, federal Judge Keith Boswell said the ban violated the government’s regulations because it “interferes with a citizenship judge’s duty to allow candidates for citizenship the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation of the oath.”
This month, the government launched an appeal and asked for a stay of Judge Boswell’s order.
Ms. Ishaq is asking the Federal Court of Appeal to allow her to take the citizenship oath as soon as possible while wearing her niqab.
“I wished to vote in the mayoral election in Toronto, but was unable due to my status as a permanent resident,” she wrote in a recent affidavit.
“I wish to vote in the next federal election.”
Woman fighting citizenship oath niqab ban favours gender segregation â€” but not in Canada