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Quebec's Niqab Face-Covering Ban a First in North America

Image: Quebec's Niqab Face-Covering Ban a First in North America

A woman wears a niqab as she walks in Montreal in 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)

By    |   Thursday, 19 October 2017 06:54 AM

Quebec's "niqab" law was being called the first face-covering ban in North America, with some charging that it violates their freedom.

Bill 62 requires a person's face to be uncovered in public, along with giving and receiving public services, The Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday. It was presented as a state religious neutrality law and one lawmaker said it could extend to bandanas and even dark glasses.

The bill initially targeted those receiving services at provincial bodies and institutions, but was amended to extend to municipalities and transit authorities, the newspaper noted. The law's reach would extend to schools, health institutions, and daycares.

"We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face," Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard told reporters in support of the law, CBC News reported.

"We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. It's as simple as that," Couillard continued.

Critics, though, charged that the law singled out Muslim women wearing a niqab or burqa. Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who had long spoken out about the bill, charged that the provincial government overstepped its jurisdiction and ignored the city's multicultural character, CBC News noted.

Ihassan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, charged in a statement that the law violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Quebec's Charter of Human Rights and Freedom.

"Today's decision by the Quebec National Assembly, coming as it does in the lead-up to a provincial election campaign, boils down to ugly identity politics," Gardee said in the statement. "By tabling this discriminatory legislation, the Quebec government is advancing a dangerous political agenda on the backs of minorities, while pandering to bigoted populism instead of practicing principled governance."

Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée said Monday that the law, which does not mention niqab or burka in the legislation, would also apply to masked protesters for example, CBC News reported.

"We're talking about having the face uncovered," Vallée said, per CBC News. "It's not what is covering the face."

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Quebec's "niqab" law was being called the first face-covering ban in North America, with some charging that it violates their freedom.
quebec, niqab, ban
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2017-54-19
Thursday, 19 October 2017 06:54 AM
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