Skip to main content

Zunera Ishaq’s case has proved a polarizing issue during the election — one she says has tarnished Canadians’ views of her fellow Muslims.Chris Young/The Canadian Press

The woman who won the legal right to wear a niqab during her citizenship oath has officially become Canadian.

Zunera Ishaq, 29, was granted citizenship Friday afternoon in a private ceremony in Mississauga, west of Toronto, said her lawyer Lorne Waldman.

"It was a very emotional ceremony," he said.

Before the oath, "she was taken into a room and identified herself and took off her veil in front of a female officer," he said.

"After that, we went into the office of the judge and performed the full ceremony," Waldman said.

"The judge made a very moving statement about what it means to be a Canadian...and then she was given her certificate, she signed her oath card, which every Canadian has to do, and then after that we all sang O Canada."

Media photos show Ishaq taking the oath wearing a floral-patterned niqab. She had previously said she wished to obtain citizenship in time to vote in the federal election on Oct. 19.

Her case has proved a polarizing issue during the election — one she says has tarnished Canadians' views of her fellow Muslims.

The controversy stems from a 2011 Conservative government policy banning new Canadians from wearing face coverings while taking their citizenship oaths.

Ishaq refused to do so on religious grounds, and her efforts to challenge the new rules ended up before the courts.

The Federal Court of Canada found the policy unlawful in February, and the Federal Court of Appeal recently upheld the ruling.

The government has refused to back down, however, saying the issue will now be taken to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has consistently argued that showing one's face at the moment of becoming a Canadian citizen is consistent with Canada's values and a necessary measure to ensure national security.

Waldman said Ishaq did not request a private ceremony.