New Quebec religious neutrality law taking shape

New Quebec religious neutrality law taking shape

Quebec City (Quebec) 12 June 2015 – The provincial government is tabling a new law concerning the wearing of religious symbols for government employees. The projected law, Bill 62 would disallow employees of the state to come to work with their face covered either by a niqab or a burqa (burka). The wearing of such a face covering is also prohibited when dealing with identification ceremonies like obtaining a passport, or a driver’s licence etc.

The opposition parties think the law doesn’t go far enough and would prefer to ban any religious symbol, even certain clothing which could be identifiable for one particular religion. Their idea would even include the banning of wearing of a crucifix around one’s neck. If we recall, the Parti Québécois had composed a “Charter of Values” which they tried to sell to the public during the last elections. Their charter was too extreme and was rejected by the majority of the population.

The new law still permits people of the Muslim faith to wear a chador, hijabs, or kippas which are considered signs of their religion and would obviously allow Christians to wear crosses or Virgin Mary symbols. The premier, Philippe Couillard, proclaims the government has no business dictating what kind of clothes people wear underling that some Muslim women wear their symbolic clothing voluntarily even if some feminists find it oppressive or degrading.

Another law Bill 59 is also being discussed at the National Assembly in Quebec City concerning the “hate-crime” trend of using Facebook or Twitter, or even e-mail to threaten or imply racism.

The law would allow peacekeepers to apprehend anyone caught sending such messages through the internet to be arrested and charged.

The laws could be adopted in the fall when the legislature resumes its sessions. In the meantime the population and the provincial MNA’s can spend their summer thinking about the situation.

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