Monday 17 January 2022
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Hijab rejection by Quebec troubles ‘liberals’ in Canada

The removal of a teacher from a school in Canada, which is ruled by Justin Trudeau, who typifies a woke leader, for wearing a hijab in the classroom has sparked widespread condemnation by self-styled liberals of the egalitarian law in the province of Quebec. Muslims and ‘liberal’ apologists of Islam who accommodate only Islamic concerns say the law unfairly targets ethnic minorities under the pretext of secularism.

Fatemeh Anvari, a third-grade teacher in the town of Chelsea in the Quebec province, was told earlier this December that she would no longer be permitted to continue in the role because her headwear ran afoul of Bill 21, a law passed in 2019.

By the rule, public servants in “positions of authority”, including police officers, lawyers, judges and teachers, are debarred from wearing religious symbols such as a turban — despite a heavy presence of Sikhs in Canada — a kippah and a hijab.

The law has a visible impact on Muslim women and in schools in the province, where 74.5% of teachers are women.

“This is not about my article of clothing. This is a bigger issue… I don’t want this to be a personal thing because that won’t do any good to anyone,” Anvari told CTV News. “I want this to be something in which we all think about how big decisions affect other lives.”

The end of the Muslim teacher’s privilege has prompted protests at her school, where students and staff put up green ribbons and posters in support of her.

The decision to move Anvari from the classroom to reassign her to a literacy project on diversity and inclusion, has also led to frustration from federal politicians.

On 13 December, Prime Minister Trudeau said no one should lose their because of their religion but refused to intervene, saying he did not want to create a fight between Quebec and the federal government.

Trudeau said it was important “to ensure that it is Quebecers themselves who deeply disagree with the fact that someone can lose their because of their religion”.

New Democratic party leader Jagmeet Singh said Anvari’s abilities as a teacher were never in doubt, but “because of the way she looked and they way she dressed, she’s no longer able to teach these kids. That is everything that is wrong with this bill”.

Conservative MP Kyle Seeback described the end of the special treatment for the Muslim teacher as “an absolute disgrace”.

While Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said he disagrees with the law, he said he respected provincial jurisdiction and believed Bill 21 was “an issue that is best left for Quebecers to decide”.

Federal leaders have been wary of angering voters in Quebec by taking too strong a stand against the law.

In Quebec, where the measure has popular support, political leaders defended Bill 21.

“The reason this teacher does not have a is that she did not respect the law,” said the Parti Québécois’s critic on secularism, Pascal Bérubé, who added, “The law is for everyone. She tried to make a statement wearing a hijab.”

Premier François Legault called Bill 21 “a reasonable law”. He said that the Muslim teacher should not have been hired in the first place.

Employees recruited before March 2019 are still permitted to wear religious symbols at work. But as Anvari became a substitute teacher last spring and signed a new contract in October, she was not allowed to wear a hijab in the classroom.

Trudeau has said federal intervention would be unlikely to have much effect, given Quebec’s ability to invoke a constitutional override power known as the “notwithstanding clause” which protects the province from claims that it violates rights protected by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

English-language schools in Quebec have fought the law and recently lost a court challenge preventing the bill from going into effect.

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