Quebec: Bill to ban Religious Symbols introduced

The Canadian state of Quebec has introduced a new bill that seeks to ban wearing of religious symbols by various public sector employees during their working hours. The move has been criticised for being directed against Muslim women who wear their hijabs to office. The bill will also be applicable to crucifixes and yarmulkes.

The law has put right-inclined Coalition Avenir Quebec government in direct juxtaposition with the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who is a supporter of religious freedom especially in an election year. Quebec is a tough and vital battleground in federal elections. PM Trudeau in a reaction to the above told media in Halifax that, “It is unthinkable to me that in a free society we would legitimise discrimination against citizens based on their religion”.

It is expected that the legislation will pass and it will cover all the public workers in authoritative positions, which also includes teachers, judges and even police officers. It, however, waives off the same to the current government employees and other civil servants in the French-speaking province. The bill states that secularity “should be affirmed in a manner that ensures a balance between the collective rights of the Quebec nation and human rights and freedoms”.

Successive governments in Quebec have been trying hard for many years to put a tab on civil servants from wearing of religious symbols like head-scarves, turbans and even skullcaps which are Jewish at all places of work in an attempt to foster a secular society. Quebec had previously also imposed a ban on full-face covering for anyone who is either giving or taking public services in 2017. Latter was however suspended by a Canadian judge and the same of the same still lies in limbo.

The government of Quebec had been voted to power by the public last year on it promises that it will restrict immigration and also start a secular charter. The bill has received widespread condemnation with a Jewish group coming forward to state that it is a clear assault on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of Quebec. The National Council of Canadian Muslims also said that the bill will ultimately reduce Muslims and other minorities in the state to the status of second-class citizens. The bill will largely affect Muslim women.

The Mayor of Montreal Valerie Plante has raised serious concerns about the message that the bill sends to minorities about the state of their fundamental rights in Quebec.

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