Que­bec to pro­hibit gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees from wear­ing Mus­lim chador, niqab and burka

Asian Journal - - NATION -

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.

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