Muslim women wearing face coverings can keep them on to vote in Canadian by-elections

Muslim women who wear veils covering their face will not have to take them off to vote in by-elections later this month in a French-speaking Canadian province where the issue of the traditional hijab has been heatedly contested. Instead, women who wear niqabs – which cover the entire face except for the eyes – or a burqa, an all-covering body veil, can bring a photo ID or another document proving their identity when they vote in the Quebec elections, said Elections Canada spokesman John Enright. But those unable to sufficiently prove their identity must show their faces, he said. The decision comes after the province’s chief election officer required Muslim women to show their faces in order to be allowed to vote in last March’s election. The decision was condemned by Muslim groups who said it forced the women in question to decide whether to adhere to their religious beliefs or violate their faith and vote.