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Muslim group challenges Islamophobic law in Canada

As promised during their 2018 election campaign, the CAQ (Coalition Avenir Québec) government tabled Bill 21 on March 28, 2019, entitled "An Act respecting the laicity of the State". The bill, since made law, bans public workers in positions of "authority" from wearing religious symbols, specifically while they are on duty. Canada is usually viewed as an accepting and welcoming country where restrictions on religious freedom almost never happen. The preposterous bill has received severe criticism from around the world and several legal appeals have been made in Quebec to overturn it.

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The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) filed on Friday a challenge to Quebec’s controversial religious symbols law with Canada’s top court.

As promised during their 2018 election campaign, the CAQ (Coalition Avenir Québec) government tabled Bill 21 on March 28, 2019, entitled “An Act respecting the laicity of the State”. The bill, since made law, bans public workers in positions of “authority” from wearing religious symbols, specifically while they are on duty.

Also joining in the challenge were the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and plaintiff Ichrak Nourel Hak.

The Quebec law bans most civil servants, including nurses, teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols such as turbans, hijabs, crosses and kippahs while on the job.

The law, passed in June, applies to new hires and proponents say, guarantees the religious neutrality of the state

Hak is a University of Montreal student studying to become a teacher but because she wears a hijab, she cannot teach in a Quebec public school.

It is important to note that since the bill has passed there has been a drastic surge in hate crimes against Muslim women in Quebec.

Since it was passed, new hires among public workers in positions of coercive authority have been banned from wearing religious symbols. It also mandates having one’s face uncovered to give or receive specific public services.

Critics argue that the law is a thinly-veiled attack centered on Muslim women who wear the headgear and it forces people to choose between their religion and their job.

The law, passed in June, applies to new hires and proponents say, guarantees the religious neutrality of the state.

The Quebec Superior Court ruled in September that while the law is causing harm to Quebecers who wear religious symbols, it could not overturn a law that was duly passed by elected representatives.

Read more: Ban on hijabs, turbans and kippahs: Canada’s secular law under fire

That moved the appeal to the highest court.

In Canada, it is necessary to ask permission from the Supreme Court of Canada and that is what the three parties did on Friday. It is considered in this instance to be a formality and the case will likely be heard in October.

Canada is usually viewed as an accepting and welcoming country where restrictions on religious freedom almost never happen. The preposterous bill has received severe criticism from around the world and several legal appeals have been made in Quebec to overturn it.

Anadolu with additional input from GVS New Desk (Rai Mustafa Bhatti)

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