'It's their choice': 3 Muslim women weigh in on Que. face-covering law

On Wednesday, a law that says people must uncover their faces to receive or give public services was passed in Quebec's National Assembly. Three Muslim women in Saskatchewan weighed in on the controversial bill.

Bill 62 requires anyone giving and receiving public services to do so with their face uncovered

When Dorreya El Sebaee lived in Saudi Arabia, she wore a full covering where it was the law but in other regions she did not. (Trevor Bothorel/CBC)

Some Saskatchewan residents are concerned how fellow Muslim women in Quebec will be viewed and treated after the passing of a controversial face-covering law.

On Wednesday, a law that mandates people receive and give public services with their faces uncovered was passed in Quebec's National Assembly. 

It's been called a religious neutrality law, and it prohibits public sector employees, including dentists, doctors, teachers, midwives and daycare employees, from covering their faces.

I don't know how I would be able to go out in public without my hijab. It's just so important to me.- Rinad Ramadan

The law does not specifically mention the niqab or burka — traditional face-covering garments worn by some Muslim women — but with the law women will have to remove their niqab or burka to take public transit or work in the public sector. 

"I think it's really unfair," Rinad Ramadan said, noting she wears a hijab because it's her choice.

In her experience, people seem to think Muslim women are "oppressed or forced" into wearing a niqab, hijab or burka, but she said that's not the case. 

"It's their choice, too," she said. "They would think it's oppressive for the government to not give them their right to wear what they want."

Riand Ramadan said Quebec's Bill 62 will further oppress women. (Omayra Issa/CBC)

Ramadan said Bill 62 is actually what will oppress women. She said it might be hard for people to imagine why women would choose to wear a face or head covering, but encouraged people to put themselves in the women's shoes. 

"For me, I don't know how I would be able to go out in public without my hijab. It's just so important to me."

​Anam Jamhaed is divided on the issue. 

At one point, Jamhaed lived in Pakistan and covered her face, but in Canada she chooses to just cover her hair. 

"On one side, I think it's fair that when you are in public and you are dealing with public that you have face uncovered," she said.

Jamhaed said that might be reasonable because of the increasing level of threats and terrorist attacks around the globe. 

Anam Jamhaed said the issues brought up by Bill 62 are complicated, but she's able to see where the opposing sides are coming from. (Omayra Issa/CBC)

"On the other hand, everyone should have the freedom to dress however they want."

Jamhaed thinks the law will marginalize women. 

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it wasn't up to the federal government to challenge the legislation, but that he would "always defend" people's rights under the charter.

The law has been difficult for Dorreya El Sebaee to hear about. She has lived in Saskatoon for about two months and previously lived in Egypt. 

"I think it's a shame because Canada is an open-minded culture and they have diversity of peoples," she said.

El Sebaee said the Canadians should accept each other, regardless of what one wears. 

She said people should be treated like people rather than a piece of cloth. 

With files from SRC's Omayra Issa