Quebec bans Muslim women full-face veils

Quebec bans Muslim women full-face veils

A new law proposed by the local government would ban any form of face covering for people offering and receiving public services in the province.

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

"This legislation is basically attacking the Muslim women and further marginalizing them", said Farheen Khan, a Toronto activist and consultant in the non-profit sector.

"You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine", he said. In August, however, the legislation was extended to apply to municipalities, school boards, public health services and transit authorities, raising the possibility that woman wearing a niqab, which covers the woman's entire face except the area around the eyes, or a burqa, which covers the woman's entire face and has a mesh over the eyes, in Quebec, would not be able to take the metro or ride the city bus.

The law, which would be the first of its kind in North America, has received criticism over both the vagueness of its implementation, and its perceived targeting of Muslim women.

"We're talking about having the face uncovered".

"The state is not neutral when it requires a woman to reveal any part of her body against her conscience as a condition to receiving a public service to which she is entitled", added Eve Torres, NCCM Public Affairs Coordinator. Forcing someone to uncover, or forcing someone to cover: "for me that's not neutrality", she said. Civil rights advocates said the law discriminates against religious minorities.

Singh's predecessor, Tom Mulcair, acknowledged that the NDP's support for a women's right to wear a niqab contributed significantly to the party's crashing fortunes in Quebec during the 2015 election, where a large number of voters backed the Conservative Party's pledge to ban face coverings at citizenship ceremonies.

"It seems like a made-up solution to an invented problem", Ihsaan Gardee of the National Council of Canadian Muslims told the Guardian.

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. France and Belgium banned full face veils in 2011, Bulgaria and the Netherlands in 2016, and Austria in 2017, while Denmark is now gearing up to follow suit.

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