Jump to content

Turbans OK at security checks, but not niqabs at citizenship oath: Tim Uppal


Recommended Posts



Minister of Multiculturalism Tim Uppal says Sikhs should not be asked to remove their turbans for airport security checks, but that Muslim women wearing the niqab — a veil over the face — must remove it for citizenship oaths.


Uppal, an observant Sikh and Edmonton MP who wears the full beard and turban required by his religion, is often seen behind Prime Minister Stephen Harper in TV shots of question period.

As Parliament rose Friday for the summer, he introduced a last-minute bill banning the niqab at citizenship ceremonies.

The government previously tried to enforce the ban by regulation, only to be rebuffed by the Federal Court. The court said that regulation, ordered in 2011 by then immigration minister Jason Kenney, was "unlawful" because the law requires citizenship judges to allow the greatest possible freedom in "religious solemnization" of the oath.

The new bill seeks to ban the niqab by legislation, rather than by ministerial order.

Some observant Muslims see the public removal of the niqab as a violation of their religion. Uppal was asked on CBC's Power & Politics, "How would you feel, as an observant Sikh, if you were told, sorry, you can't do this unless you remove your turban?"

In reply, Uppal said, "Well there's a difference between covering your head and, of course, in this way, there is no concern with that if you're wearing a turban, a hijab or some type of scarf that covers your head. This is really about not having your face covered at the very moment that you're making this very important commitment to the country."

'What this party's about'

By contrast, Uppal said he agreed with a recent decision by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt to waive a requirement that turbans be inspected by airline security. But he insisted it was "different" if the government required that niqabs be removed in public. 

"In that case, everybody was going through the same security process and CATSA [the federal airline security service] was having anybody with any kind of head covering go through a secondary screening process, and she [Raitt] said that wasn't fair."

Uppal argues that the niqab case is about equality before the law. Asked why the same principle should not apply at airline security checks, he said, "What we're saying here is that the importance of the citizenship oath itself requires that you not have your face covered."

Asked why Muslim women could not swear the oath in front of female officials, where removing the niqab is no problem, Uppal said, "this is a commitment that should be made in community ... we really shouldn't be making all these exceptions to have men-only ceremonies or women-only ceremonies."

"This bill ... will show Canadians what this party's about and what they will get come the fall after we are re-elected."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

God lord, i cannot even begin to imagine how miserably this going to back fire against tim uppal singh and whole sikh community in Canada..this is going to have negative public opinion on sikhs as we be seen an self entitled/self absorbed obnoxious group of people. All in one difficult wrong decision understand position of tim uppal:

-Tim uppal should know his leader- stephen harper pm of canada is on record voting against turban in RCMP when he was not in power.

- Tim uppal should know this going an effect negatively on sikhs.

- I hope tim uppal realize how he is been used by stephen harper to push his xenophobic/right wing agenda through him..as what better way to break down the news against niqab in form of legislature than its coming from minority so pm does not look racist.

With that being said, i hate to be in his position from political point of view disagreeing with his leader of his party is political suicide not only that strategically quitting over this- sikh principle stance over this also might be short sighted in terms to seeing bigger broader wider mission of sikh voice in all parties of canada.

I think WSO- world sikh organization of canada should step away from tim uppal decision, take more liberal, sikh eccentric approach to this...make a public statement condemning tim uppal decision.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

..this is going to have negative public opinion on sikhs as we be seen an self entitled/self absorbed obnoxious group of people

That description is spot on for many of us....               <sadly>

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quoting from CBC


Uppal would be wise to remember Niemoller's words about cowardice: 

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Socialist. 
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Trade Unionist. 
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— 
Because I was not a Jew. 
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If people feel they are being persecuted because of niqab ban during ceremony or take it as freedom of expression or religion then we should defend their rights as our guru's have done. I think our Guru's fought was against oppression first with actions along with Guru's mission to raise consciousness of common folk around that time from karam kaand-empty ritual/pakhand to higher reality with words. I don't think Guru maharaj were in favour of banning niqab if it turned out to be someone emotion attached to it who just wanted to practise freedom of religion or rituals without harming anymore with that being said if islamic radicals are pushing niqab on woman oppressing them then Guru maharaj would be against it and its our hakum to remove oppression. So its very subtle point niqab isn't a issue if its seen or practiced harmless ritual/shariat but if that pointer-niqab becomes oppressing tool then our dharam condemns it and fight for others, fight against -niqab for everyone hostile take over.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to throw this is in the mix:


I can't ever see sullay fighting for any of our rights. What we maybe should do is leave them too it, they have enough people to fight their own battles. But the Uppal fudhu jumping in on the topic is dumb. 

Normally over here, sullay just keep quiet about other people's issues. It's worth exploring whether this is a strategy we ourselves should employ as a community?

Edited by dalsingh101
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sullay, regardless of country, do not give a damn about other peoples issues. They do not care; you will only see them at protests against Israel, in solidarity with Rohingya Muslims but never against ISIS, in support of Yezidis, not even the so called moderates.

We should adopt a similar strategy. Daan for our own first. Raising awareness about our own issues first. Other things come later. Our people are more inclined to give to Nepal, Haiti than Shaheedi Parivaars and the 8 million non Punjabi Sikhs living under the poverty line. They're more inclined to share posts about Gaza on their facebook than things happening in Punjab right now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...