Government has tarnished views of Muslims, says woman at heart of niqab debate

Zunera Ishaq talks to reporters outside the Federal Court of Appeal after her case was heard on whether she can wear a niqab while taking her citizenship oath, in Ottawa on Tuesday, September 15, 2015. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

TORONTO – The woman whose fight to wear a niqab during her Canadian citizenship ceremony has unexpectedly become a dominant election issue fears the raging debate has tarnished Canadians’ views of her fellow Muslims.

Zunera Ishaq said much of the discussion swirling around the issue in recent weeks has been based on misconceptions about Islam, the niqab and the women who embrace both.

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She attributed much of that misinformation to the Conservative government, accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper of turning her personal choice into a national vote-getting strategy.

She added she fears the tactic may be working.

A spokesman for Harper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Ishaq said the Canadian public is not being well-informed.