25 September 2023

CANADA: PS dress code to affect Muslims

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The new Government of the Canadian Province of Quebec is planning to ban female Muslim Public Servants from wearing the chador, a shawl-like piece of clothing that covers the head and body, and the niqab, which also covers the face.

Premier of Quebec, François Legault has already made clear his intention to prohibit those who hold positions of authority, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols, such as the hijab, a Muslim headscarf.

The ban on the chador and niqab would extend to all employees in the public sector.

A Government representative couldn’t say how many people such a ban would affect.

Minister for Immigration, Simon Jolin-Barrette (pictured), put in charge of ensuring the secularism of the State, said he would move quickly to introduce relevant legislation.

“It was always our position to prohibit the chador in the Public Service,” Mr Jolin-Barrette said.

He said it was too early to provide details on exactly how and when the law would be implemented.

Lawyer Shahad Salman, who wears a hijab, said she was discouraged the new Government and the media seemed to be focused on identity issues “rather than talking about real issues”.

“It’s so surreal that we’re talking about this again, honestly,” Ms Salman said.

“Such debates are counterproductive if politicians want minorities to become more integrated into Quebec society.”

The proposed ban on religious symbols has also been criticised by civil rights advocates, who contend the policy will further marginalise vulnerable minorities.

Author of a 2008 report on the accommodation of religious minorities in the Province, Charles Taylor called the proposal “either very ignorant or very intellectually dishonest”.

Quebec City, 26 October 2018

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