Quebec Bans Burkas For People Using Public Services

Although Canada is often considered a beacon of progressivism, when it comes to something as pervasive as Islamophobia, even Canada isnít immune to these prejudices.

On Wednesday morning, legislatures in Quebec passed a law banning people from wearing veils†over their faces while obtaining public services. The definition of ďpublic servicesĒ is extremely expansive, too – Quebecois will have to remain uncovered to receive hospital care, attend public universities and even ride on public transportation.

Sign the petition imploring Quebec’s National Assembly to repeal this law

In everyday life, there arenít a lot of Canadians wearing masks on the bus. As such, the law seems to specifically target women in the Muslim community who adhere to Islamic dress codes and cover their faces while in public.

According to proponents of Bill 62, the law doesnít discriminate against a particular religion since the law applies to all people wearing a face covering. It just so happens that, in practicality, it only impacts women in burkas.

Under the law, government employees who administer services will also be forbidden from wearing burkas. Itís not yet clear how the law will be enforced, but the government intends to roll out guidelines in the near future.

Quebecois legislators have discussed passing a law like this one for several years. On this occasion, the bill passed with a 65-51 vote. Discouragingly, many of the votes against the law came from far right individuals who didnít think the law was extreme enough in coming down on people who cover their faces in public.

Not all of Quebecís politicians are in favor of the ban, however. ď[Itís] a solution to a problem that doesnít exist, except in principle,Ē said Maxime Pedneault-Jobin, the mayor of Gatineau, Quebec.

Indeed, itís not as if Quebec has faced a rash of bus robberies by masked figures or instances of identify fraud by women sporting veils at universities. The idea that people could use face-coverings to obscure their identity and cause trouble is just an excuse to make life more difficult for Muslim women.

The repercussions of the ban couldnít make women who adhere to Islamic traditions feel any less welcome. Wearing a veil, they canít receive medical care, canít attend school and heck, they canít even go anywhere if theyíre not allowed on a bus. The inherent message is, ďWe donít want to see you out in public.Ē

Sadly, Quebec is not the first to go down this road. Vice has a timeline of European countries (France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, etc.) imposing similar bans to show their displeasure for Muslim women.

Itís pretty much inevitable that Quebecís law will wind up in court for being discriminatory, but maybe the negative attention can convince the legislature it made a bad decision and should repeal the law before even having to go down that road. Sign this petition urging Quebecís National Assembly to reconsider this unnecessary law.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

112 comments

Marie W
Marie W6 months ago

Thank you

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson6 months ago

Why should this be an issue?

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John W
John W7 months ago

Yawn

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Jerome S
Jerome S9 months ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S9 months ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven9 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Jim V
Jim Ven9 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Lesa D
Lesa D9 months ago

thank you Kevin...

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Thomas S
Thomas S11 months ago

".......the law seems to specifically target women in the Muslim community who adhere to Islamic dress codes and cover their faces while in public." Ah, so you've noticed that it's only Muslim women that are forced to cover their faces, and the men can walk around dressed any way they want. What does that tell you about Islam?

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I11 months ago

Noted! Thanks

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