Quebec to prohibit government employees from wearing Muslim chador, niqab and burka
Quebec’s new Coalition Avenir Quebec government says it will go a step further in restricting religious symbols, prohibiting all public servants from wearing the chador, niqab or burka.
The ban on the garments is expected to be part of legislation that will also forbid state employees in positions of authority, including teachers, from wearing visible religious symbols.
The chador, which is worn primarily by Muslim women from Iran, is a cloak that covers the head and upper body but leaves the face visible. The burka covers the entire face with mesh over the eyes, while the niqab leaves a slit for the eyes.
Justice Minister Sonia Lebel said the government will move forward with the measure despite questions about its legality.
“There are always (legal) opinions that can lead in every direction, but what is important is for the government to give direction,” she said.
Premier Francois Legault has said in the past that he is prepared to invoke the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause to ensure his religious-symbol legislation does not fall to a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Legault said Wednesday his party’s policy on the chador, burka and niqab is nothing new.
“Our position is still the same,” he said. “We do not want any state employees, not just people in positions of authority, to be able to wear symbols like the niqab or the chador.”
Although Legault said the chador ban is not a priority, Simon Jolin-barrette, the Minister of Diversity, Immigration and Inclusion, said he hopes to introduce legislation quickly. He could not say whether it will be tabled before the end of the year.