Quebec law banning hijabs, kippas and turbans is unfair, critics say

Story by CBC Kids News • 2019-03-29 19:27

Supporters say the law will make all Quebecers equal

If the Quebec government gets its way, there will be fewer people wearing hijabs, kippas and turbans while at work.

The government in that province introduced a new law on Thursday that would make it illegal for teachers, police officers and other people in positions of authority to wear religious symbols while on the job.

Several groups have attacked the proposed law, saying that it’s discriminatory and treats certain people unfairly based on their religion.

Others have said it’s a way to bring Quebecers together.

A woman wearing a headscarf.

Substitute teacher Chahira Battou says it makes for a more inclusive school if teachers are allowed to wear religious symbols such as a hijab. (Dave St-Amant/CBC)

Montreal teacher Chahira Battou said she’d rather move to another province than remove her hijab at work.

"How can I work with another colleague who has more rights than me?" Battou said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also voiced his concerns.

"It's unthinkable to me that in a free society we would legitimize discrimination against citizens based on their religion."

André Lamoureux disagrees.

The law would make everyone in Quebec “equal citizens,” said the spokesperson for the Rassemblement pour la laïcité, which is a group that promotes removing the influence of religion on society.

Religious symbols only serve to highlight our differences, he said, and removing them will help bring harmony to the province.

A wooden crucifix hangs on a wall.

In keeping with the new law, the Quebec government has promised to remove the crucifix that has hung in the National Assembly — where the provincial politicians do their work — since 1936. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

While some are calling on the Quebec government to scrap the law, that’s going to be hard to do.

The government is using a special legal tool — called the notwithstanding clause of Canada’s Constitution — to block people from challenging the proposed law in court.

Previous Quebec governments have tried to put similar laws in place and failed.

The government’s plan is to get the law approved by June 15.

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