Canada's top court ruled Thursday that Muslim women wearing the niqab can be forced to remove their veils when testifying, but only if absolutely necessary and after any objections have been considered.

The case, considering a rape victim's request to wear the veil at trial, pitted religious freedoms set out in the constitution against a defendant's right to face an accuser in court, which is deeply entrenched in Canadian law.

"An extreme approach that would always require the witness to remove her niqab while testifying, or one that would never do so, is untenable," the Supreme Court said in its decision.

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