Quebec is rumored to be proprosing legislation that would ban state workers from wearing religious garb, such as the hijab.
The Canadian media is suggesting that in the fall Quebec’s government will introduce new legislation to ban those who work with the public from wearing clothing that represents their religion. The Canadian Civil Liberties Organization recently spoke out against religious symbols being prohibited in Quebec. Some of the types of clothes said to be included in the ban are yarmulkes, turbans and hijabs.
Bernard Drainville, the Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions and Active Citizenship is overseeing the proposal and explained it in this video, saying “We therefore propose to establish a duty of religious neutrality and reserve among state personnel… This duty would mean that state employees could not wear conspicuous religious symbols while they work.”
The proposed “Charter of Quebec Values” would also forbid workers from wearing a crucifix while they are on the job. Religious officials are not speaking publicly about this possible ban. However, the details of this proposed bill are already being leaked to the community and citizens have openly spoken out against the idea of banning religious garb from the workplace. They feel that if this legislation is passed it will be a violation of their right to express their religion in public. Members of the Canadian Civil Liberties Organization will supposedly be fighting government officials on this matter. It is likely they will challenge Canadian law after members of the organization affected by the proposed ban.
Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard strongly opposes the proposal, saying the only way it will become law is “over my dead body.”
“There is some element of hope in that the government of Quebec is so overreaching in this that a lot of people with a secular mindset think that this is just going overboard,” said Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom
Politicians are joining religious leaders in the battle against allowing this law to be passed. This could lead to a backlash against those who are in favor of this ruling. The leader of Canada’s Federal Liberal group has stated that if this law is passed people will be forced to choose between their religion and their job, which is an unfair choice for anyone to have to make.
However, not every member of the community is against the legislation. Egyptian-born Muslim Yolande Geadah, says the ban would not infringe on personal rights.
“I think there is a lot of confusion between the idea of religious liberty and wearing a symbol. A symbol remains a symbol. It has nothing to do with your beliefs.”
Less than three months before this ban was proposed, there was controversy surrounding the banning of turbans on Quebec’s soccer fields. Quebec’s Soccer Federation tried to ban players from wearing religious symbols on their uniforms. This set the stage for talk of freedom of religion violations.