Montreal

Françoise David appeals for calm in debate over niqab

A Québec Solidaire MNA is appealing for calm in the debate around whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear niqabs during citizenship ceremonies.

Québec Solidaire MNA's motion against Islamophobia passes in Quebec's National Assembly

The Québec solidaire spokeswoman joins immigration minster Kathleen Weil at a news conference. 2:02

A Québec Solidaire MNA is appealing for calm in the debate around whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear niqabs during citizenship ceremonies.

Françoise David tabled a motion against Islamophobia which passed today at Quebec's National Assembly.

David told Radio-Canada she has seen language that is "hateful, aggressive and intolerant" with regard to the Muslim community.

The motion denounces Islamophobia, hate speech and violence against all Quebecers. David tabled it one day after young people ripped a Montreal Muslim woman's head scarf off.

"I can't just sit in my home and say, 'Oh, there's no problem here.' It's impossible for me, and I would say and act the same way if people from other communities...experience that kind of attack," she said.

In the motion, David called on her colleagues to voice their concern over the increased Islamophobic and racist videos or statements on social media. 

Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil joined David in denouncing Islamophobia. 

In a rare bipartisan news conference after the motion passed, Weil said the vote sends a strong message.

""I think this was a gesture of responsibility...and it's a gesture to reassure people, not only Quebecers, but reassure newcomers and people who perhaps came a few generations ago," Weil said.

Niqab debate

David said Islamophobia has been inflamed by the federal election and the continued debate among leaders over the niqab. She said she hopes her motion brings some calm to a divided province. 

The wearing of the niqab during the citizenship oath has become a hot topic in the federal campaign. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May oppose the ban, while Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe support it.

While David said she's personally opposed to the niqab, she said the federal election should "not be a referendum on the niqab, but rather a referendum on nine years of Conservative rule" that she said have been detrimental to the environment, workers and women's rights.

"The issue of the niqab will be resolved in the Supreme Court, but the question of relations between the majority in Quebec and its minorities, including the Muslim minority, must be settled in Quebec outside an election campaign," she said. 

Since the Conservative government implemented a policy in 2011 stating that candidates for citizenship must remove any kind of face covering when taking the public citizenship oath, only two women have decided to not go through with the ceremony.

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