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Quebec at it again, banning religious symbols


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Quebec reveals religious symbols to be banned from public sector

Quebec’s minority government has laid out a plan to crack down on religious accommodation in the province, including a ban on religious symbols that forbids public servants, with some exceptions, from wearing the Sikh turban, the Muslim hijab, the Jewish kippa or a large Christian crucifix.

The plan drew instant and virulent denunciations from many quarters, ranging from ethnic minorities who stand to be affected by it to provincial and federal politicians.

After weeks of trial balloons and leaks to the media, the outline of the Charter of Quebec Values arrived largely as expected, with the possibility of exemptions for certain institutions like hospitals and a plan to enshrine the principles of government religious neutrality and secularism in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.

The crucifix hanging in Quebec National Assembly would remain, however, if the plan proposed by the Parti Québécois government makes it into law – a steep hurdle given the two main opposition parties have already said they will oppose the plan as presented Tuesday morning.

Bernard Drainville, the minister in charge of the file, says he will create exemptions for municipalities, hospitals and universities and colleges that want to allow their employees to wear religious symbols, such as hijabs or turbans.

The exemptions would not include schools or daycares, in order to ensure children are not influenced by religious symbols, he said.

Mr. Drainville said small jewellery featuring such symbols as a crucifix, crescent or Star of David, would be allowed.

The proposals were roundly criticized by a dominant figure in the debate over religious accommodations. Gérard Bouchard, who co-presided a high-profile commission in 2007 that toured Quebec and produced a study on the issue, said the PQ’s proposals would be highly divisive and would harm the province.

“The project tabled [Tuesday] is a project that will divide us, that will lead us into a battle that will be an unpleasant debate and one in the long term that will hurt us,” he told Radio-Canada.

He said the Marois government did not produce studies to justify its proposals, and is feeding the perception that conflicts over religious accommodations are greater than they really are.

“The government is relying on false perceptions, which it itself helped perpetuate and even amplify,” said Mr. Bouchard, a sociologist who is the brother of former PQ premier Lucien Bouchard.

A group representing Arab women in Montreal, the city where they would have the greatest impact, termed the proposals undemocratic and predicted they would push some people to leave the province.

“This is extremely discriminatory and essentially targets Muslim women. Period,” Khadija Darid, director of Espace féminin arabe, said in an interview. “These women chose Quebec and Canada for its freedoms. Now, everything is being cut. These measures are authoritarian.”

She notes that Quebec encouraged immigration from French-speaking North Africa, and many of the newcomers are practising Muslims.

“A lot of women are telling me they will leave Quebec. It’s unthinkable for someone who wears a headscarf to take it off.”

The head of Montreal’s largest teachers’ union says the debate is misguided. Sylvain Mallette, head of La Fédération autonome de l’enseignement, says the rules about religious attire will impose a burden on school principals. He said they evoke the days when principals went around measuring the length of students’ skirts to ensure they met school rules.

“They will have to make sure: Are these earrings too big? Is that ring too big? This is wasted energy,” Mr. Mallette said. He said the PQ’s proposed policy is “incoherent” because elected officials would continue to be able to wear religious symbols, and the government would continue to subsidize religious schools.

“This policy risks creating more problems than solutions,” Mr. Mallette said.

The proposals are meeting political opposition. Québec Solidaire leader Françoise David said Tuesday they would heavily impact Muslim women, and to be consistent, the government should move the crucifix from above the speaker’s chair and shift it elsewhere in the National Assembly, next to a plaque explaining its history. In Ottawa, the federal Conservatives say the proposals are worrying and must be challenged if they are deemed unconstitutional if they are formally adopted.

The PQ plans a round of consultation before legislation is tabled this fall.

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So what about this?

180px-Fleur_de_lys_du_québec.svg.png

The fleur-de-lis or fleur-de-lys (plural: fleurs-de-lis)[pron 1] is a stylized lily (in French, fleur means flower, and lis means lily) or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. It may be "at one and the same time, religious, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in French heraldry.
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This is beyond ridiculous. What will be accomplished by doing this? Government shouldn't be telling people how to live their personal lives, what to believe in, how to dress, etc.

I may personally believe that the hijab is a (cultural and not religious) form of oppression used against women, but for some women it has much more significance than a simple piece of cloth. Same goes for Sikh men wearing the turban, it's a cultural and religious symbol which has great personal meaning for these men.

As long as these religious symbols are not putting other people at risk, causing harm or enticing hatred, what's the big deal?

The best thing the government can do is educate people, preach tolerance and acceptance by all, and allow their citizens to come to logical conclusions themselves. You cannot force a religious person to give up their faith... that's something that they have to come to on their own through education and washing away the years of indoctrination.

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This is beyond ridiculous. What will be accomplished by doing this? Government shouldn't be telling people how to live their personal lives, what to believe in, how to dress, etc.

I may personally believe that the hijab is a (cultural and not religious) form of oppression used against women, but for some women it has much more significance than a simple piece of cloth. Same goes for Sikh men wearing the turban, it's a cultural and religious symbol which has great personal meaning for these men.

As long as these religious symbols are not putting other people at risk, causing harm or enticing hatred, what's the big deal?

The best thing the government can do is educate people, preach tolerance and acceptance by all, and allow their citizens to come to logical conclusions themselves. You cannot force a religious person to give up their faith... that's something that they have to come to on their own through education and washing away the years of indoctrination.

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It became a "culture" through the aspect of violence in their host countries. It's like a demented form of Stockholm syndrome. Take Saudi Arabia for example. The women there have to not only wear head coverings but have to wear head to toe black while the men can wear white. Imagine wearing head to toe black in that sun but further imagine the punishment a woman would bear for not wearing her "traditional" ball and chain. It's sick and abusive, to protect such brutality under the umbrella of "it's just their culture" is ignorant.

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