Quebec passes bill requiring citizens to uncover faces while receiving public services

By Ingrid Peritz
The Globe & Mail | October 18, 2017

Quebec has adopted a law forcing people to show their faces when obtaining services such as taking a city bus, pushing through controversial legislation that is being criticized as discriminatory against Muslim Canadians.

Bill 62, which the province’s Justice Minister describes as a North American first, requires one’s face to be uncovered when giving or receiving public services. The law marks the outcome of a contentious discussion about the place of religious minorities in Quebec.

Details of how the law would apply have yet to be worked out, but critics say they are concerned it will empower civil servants such as front-line hospital workers to refuse service to a woman in a niqab or burka.

. . .

Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said the legislation targets a religious minority already facing a significant spike in hate crimes in Canada, one still recovering from the mass shooting of six worshippers in a Quebec City mosque this year.

“It allows voices to marginalize and vilify the Muslim community even further,” Mr. Gardee said in an interview from Ottawa. “What it does is serve to further target a tiny minority of the population for political gain.”

He added: “It’s not the business of the state to be in the wardrobes of the nation.”

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