Quebec prohibits face veils in public services

Lucie Lamarche

"There is always in every piece of legislation a risk of it being contested by those that don't agree with it".

The government insisted that the law applies to all face coverings and does not target Muslim women.

While a first for North America, across the Atlantic a number of countries and regions have prohibited face veils to various degrees.

The National Assembly of Quebec voted Wednesday to ban burqas, the full-face Islamic coverings, for all public servants and those receiving public services.

"The message they're sending to those women is that you stay home and don't come out of your house because they are choosing to cover their faces and they can not board a bus or use any public transportation or receive any services", she added.

"I should see your face, and you should see mine", Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said of Bill 62.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada's New Democratic Party, told the Huffington Post in August that Bill 62 "contravenes individuals freedoms" and would "disproportionately impact Muslims". "You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine.it's as simple as that".

Some social media users said that the law is unworkable, because in theory it would prevent people from wearing balaclavas or scarves over their faces in cold weather.

Doctors, midwives and dentists paid by the government are only allowed to cover their faces for occupational requirements.

"I think friends can disagree", Naqvi said.

The bill does not specifically mention the niqab or burqa, but would affect those Muslim women who choose to wear the traditional garments.

The two main opposition parties, the Parti Québécois and Coalition Avenir Québec, have argued the legislation doesn't go far enough, while civil rights advocates and Muslim groups argue it discriminates against religious minorities. It "boils down to ugly identity politics" before the 2018 provincial election, the councl's executive director Ihsaan Gardee said.

In the U.S., a Georgia legislator withdrew a bill past year, which would have banned women from wearing burqas or veils whilst driving, or when their driver's license photos were taken.

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