Quebec passes bill banning niqab, burka while receiving public services

By Graeme Hamilton
National Post | October 18, 2017

MONTREAL – Niqab-wearing Quebec women who want to ride the bus, visit the library, go for a medical check-up or meet with their child’s teacher are now legally required to uncover their faces while receiving provincial and municipal government services.

Quebec’s National Assembly adopted Bill 62 Wednesday morning, a controversial law that is the Liberal government’s answer to a decade-long debate over the accommodation of religious minorities in the province.

The bill passed despite opposition from the Parti Québécois and Coalition Avenir Québec, which argued the legislation does not go far enough in restricting the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols.

. . .

Eve Torres, Quebec representative of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said the law infringes on religious freedom and will almost certainly be challenged in court.

“After the January attack (in which six worshippers were killed in a Quebec City mosque), in a context with the growth of the extreme right, I think the government has a responsibility to protect this minority and not marginalize people who already face discrimination, who already have trouble finding jobs and housing,” Torres said. “It creates a climate where people are again excluded.”

An Environics Institute survey last year found that three per cent of Canadian Muslim women wear the niqab. One Quebec researcher has estimated that fewer than 100 Quebec women wear the garment, which covers the face except for the eyes.

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