Quebec assembly to debate bill banning face coverings in public service

Quebec lawmakers pursue ‘burqa ban’ for 3rd time in 10yrs

Reuters

THE National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) on Wednesday said that is deeply concerned by the Quebec National Assembly's passage of legislation that discriminates against some Muslim women in the province.

The legislation bans public workers - including doctors, teachers and daycare workers - as well as those receiving a service from the government, from wearing the niqab, burka or any other face covering.

She said the ban was needed for "communication reasons, identification reasons and security reasons".

The challenge should not necessarily come from the federal government, but if an organization launches the process, "the government will have to decide as well", she said.

The law was introduced by the province's Liberal government to address the issue of state neutrality.

Following the adoption of the bill, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said that in a "free and democratic society, public services should be given and received with an open face".

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The legislation does no provides for an exemption for all those who provide spiritual care or religious instruction, as well as those who are forced to cover their faces due to nature of their working conditions or occupational hazards. "This is a bill about le vivre ensemble (living together in harmony)".

According to Al- Jazeera, the bill on banning face veil is expected to be voted on next week.

Vallee has not yet clarified how the face-covering ban would be enforced when it comes to people using municipal services.

"By tabling this discriminatory legislation, the Quebec government is advancing a risky political agenda on the backs of minorities, while pandering to bigoted populism instead of practising principled governance", said NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee. "We don't have a big issue right now with hordes of Muslim women in niqab trying to work in the public service or accessing public services with difficulty". "The state is not neutral when it requires a woman to reveal any part of her body against her conscience as a condition to receiving a public service to which she is entitled".

The government has said individuals will be able to apply for an exemption based on religious accommodation.

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