Quebec bans Muslim women from wearing face veils on public transport

Posted October 22, 2017

You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine.

"Supporters of this bill, the Liberal government here in Quebec, say they aim to address this issue of making sure that the state is neutral when it comes to religion", Shingler says.

Asked in the federal parliament whether he would challenge the law, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who represents a Montreal district, said he would continue to ensure all Canadians are protected by the country's charter of rights and freedoms, "while respecting the choices that different legislative assemblies can make". "It's as simple as that".

The Canadian province of Quebec has passed a law banning face coverings which prohibits public workers from wearing the niqab or burqa and bars citizens from wearing a veil when riding public transit or receiving government services. Defending the ban, Philippe Couillard, the premier of Quebec province, told The Guardian, "We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face".

She said the bill would establish the "neutrality of the state". "It's not what is covering the face".

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However, there is a loophole in the law that allows for "religious accommodation requests", but these requests have to be "serious" and will only be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to provincial government departments, the bill also applies to any institution or agency that relies on the province funding, such as school boards and hospitals. "As long as the service is being rendered, the face should be uncovered", said Vallée.

However, Muslim groups and civil rights advocates have denounced the measure, Shingler says.

The rights group's executive director Ihsaan Gardee said: "By tabling this discriminatory legislation, the Quebec government is advancing a unsafe political agenda on the backs of minorities". Under an amendment made in August, however, the ban was extended to municipal services such as trains and buses.

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