02 April 2019 - New bill may introduce ban on religious symbols in Quebec
Quebec's religious symbol ban targets minorities in the name of secularism
Martin Patriquin (The Guardian, 31/03/2019)
The government of Quebec, Canada’s second-most populous province, wishes to assure everyone that its newly proposed religious symbol ban doesn’t target hijabs, kippa, kirpans and the like. Rather, by outlawing the wearing of such accoutrements by certain government workers, it is ensuring that those who police streets, judge defendants, guard prisoners and teach children do not betray even a modicum of faith to those in their care – “a concrete affirmation that the Quebec state is secular”, as Quebec’s immigration minister, Simon Jolin-Barrette, put it recently.
It is an almost laughable conceit. In reality, the proposed law, which the government tacitly admits contravenes Quebec’s own charter of rights and freedoms, is the fruit of over a decade of institutionalized animus directed towards Quebec’s religious minorities on the part of its political class. As such, it will disproportionately affect these religious minorities, who already face discrimination and outsized unemployment rates compared to their white, largely lapsed Catholic brethren.
CAQ's secularism bill elicits mixed responses in multicultural Montreal
René Bruemmer (Montreal Gazette, 29/03/2019)
On the multicultural streets of Park Extension, where turbans and hijabs have abounded for decades, the Legault government’s proposed law was met with derision, and the fear that it would stoke violence where before there has always been acceptance.
“I am brown and you are white, and we are all God’s creations, we are all human beings,” said Qurban Ali, a Pakistani Muslim who has lived in the neighbourhood for 34 years. “We are all the same, and we should just let people be. Why do you need to bother with people’s religion?”
Canada’s template of allowing people to exhibit their beliefs in a respectful manner works, Ali said. In Pakistan, there are the few who grow long beards and spout religious dogma and cause dissension. “We don’t like them. They are fanatics. And what this government is trying to do speaks of fanaticism.”
Ban on wearing religious symbols is 'moderate', says Quebec premier
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press (National Post, 31/03/2019)
The Quebec government is taking a moderate approach to secularism that does not violate freedom of religion, Premier Francois Legault said Sunday as he defended his government’s controversial bill to ban the wearing of religious symbols for some public sector employees.
Legault also defended his government’s use of the notwithstanding clause to block court challenges, calling it a “legitimate tool” that has been used by other Quebec premiers.
In a three-minute video released to his social media channels, Legault said Bill 21 provides a much-needed framework around an ongoing social debate.
McGill philosopher adds voice to chorus of criticism against Quebec’s secularism bill
Ingrid Peritz (The Globe and Mail, 29/03/2019)
The co-author of a seminal report on religious accommodations in Quebec says the government’s new secularism bill is an “awful, deplorable” piece of legislation that will “poison the atmosphere” in the province.
Charles Taylor, a philosopher at McGill University in Montreal, joined his voice to a chorus of criticism against the proposed law, which would bar authority figures from wearing hijabs, skullcaps, turbans and other displays of faith.
While the legislation appears to have popular support, opposition is already fierce. Among those staking positions against it are Amnesty International, women’s groups, teachers’ unions, Muslim organizations, the mayor of Montreal, civil liberties associations and interfaith coalitions.