A camel, goes the saying, is a horse designed by a committee. That's an apt metaphor for the Supreme Court of Canada's decision last month on whether a woman should be allowed to hide her face behind a niqab while testifying in a courtroom.

The court was split, and the four-member majority finally reached a compromise – but what's a compromise that is unworkable and that will achieve nothing but a further muddling of the issue?

Incredibly, lower court judges will be required to determine the strength of the religious belief of the witness before deciding whether the witness can keep her niqab on. Why should judges be invited to probe into a person's deepest convictions on matters that have nothing to do with the trial over which they're presiding? In itself, this is an intolerable intrusion into private life.

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