A new ad by the Bloc Québécois targeting the niqab "drives a wedge" between Muslims and other Quebecers and insinuates that Muslim citizens are foreigners in the country, a spokeswoman for a group of Muslim women says.
The ad released on Friday shows a drop of oil morphing into a niqab and attacks the New Democratic Party's position on allowing niqabs during citizenship ceremonies.
"I was disgusted," Samaa Elibyari of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women said. "Doesn't [Bloc Leader Gilles] Duceppe offer something more substantial in his program?"
The ad, which aims to win back support from the NDP, received swift criticism online, with NDP spokesperson Karl Bélanger comparing it to the rhetoric used by France's far-right Front National party.
Elibyari doesn't wear a niqab herself, but believes Muslim women should be allowed to make that choice on an individual basis, depending on their beliefs and their own interpretation of Islam.
"Very few women wear the niqab, but the ad chooses to take the niqab as a symbol for Muslims and identify them as something foreign," Elibyari said.
She said the province has changed since she first moved here, and the Bloc's ad is a sign of the growing fear and intolerance towards Muslims.
"I came to a Quebec that welcomed me with opened arms. I came to a Quebec that was curious about my culture and my religion," she said. "Whereas now I see a kind of exclusion, an aggressiveness being used as a political tool."