Quebec says no face veil or no public service

According to Canada’s national newspaper The Globe and Mail, see story here, a young Muslim woman whose face was hidden by a religious covering was pulled out of her government French class near Montreal and told to unveil or leave the course. This is the second such case to come to light in Quebec. The first case led to landmark provincial legislation against religious face veils. Whatever egalitarian sentiments there might be behind the Quebec legislation, it’s clear that those who are hurt by the legislation are women. The law would deny veiled women government services including consulting a doctor in a hospital and having access to education. Quebec Premier Jean Charest and his cabinet introduced the sweeping legislation that effectively bars Muslim women from receiving or delivering public services while wearing a niqab.

11 thoughts on “Quebec says no face veil or no public service

  1. That’s ludicrous, and unfair. I may be dating myself here, but does anyone remember back in the late 80s/early 90s when the big issue was Sikh Mounties wanted to wear their turbans?

    How come they were allowed, and the women aren’t? And what’s the purpose of excluding veiled women anyway?

  2. It may not survive a charter challenge. See Quebec has reaffirmed the right to wear other religious symbols, such as crosses, skullcaps or headscarves, which was met by some as evidence of hypocrisy and discrimination. The legislation, Bill 94, demands a face in plain view, for reasons of identification, security and communication. The claim is that it’s not about religious symbolism.

  3. Agreed on both counts, Jender.

    I wonder if we could collate some of our images of power into one post, or perhaps do an occasional rerun of some sub-set. There have been other amazing ones.

  4. I took this one from the facebook group “Quebec’s Niqab Ban Makes Me Want To Wear Niqab Even More.” I tried putting a credit under it but it’s not showing up.

  5. this just doesn’t make any sense. one assumes that, if there is a reason to take issue with the niqab (and, i needn’t even have an opinion on that matter to make this point), it’s something along the lines of its disempowering the women who are under social pressure to wear it…so, we solve women’s disempowerment by…taking educational and medical services away from the very women about whom we are concerned? total nonsense.

  6. I really don’t understand the logic behind this at all. I think that not being allowed to go topless as a woman is problematic, but I don’t think the problem would be solved by a law *requiring* me to go topless.

  7. Hello,

    I’m from Quebec and I’m appalled at this bill. I also think it will be struck down by the courts, but it still sends a terrible message to minorities, especially to Muslim women.

    Quebec often gets bad press in the rest of the country, and outside the country, on language issues, and in particular the promotion of French over English. I’m an English-speaker, and I think a lot of that criticism is unfair.

    But in this case, I really am ashamed of what we’re doing.

  8. Hi I. Hall,

    I agree with you that Quebec often gets bad press about the language issues in a way that is unfair. Of course Quebec should promote French. The rest of the country promotes English, and French is on much more tenuous ground (not the dominant language, so needs to take extra steps to stay live).

    But I think that some of the way Quebec has been treating its Muslim population lately is shameful as you say. The last thing we heard about was the double-standard around “showing your face” to vote (when others can vote by mail-in-ballot, therefore not required to show their face). Now this. Not to say that the Anglos in Canada are doing better, but Quebec is sending pretty loud messages to its minority populations these days.

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