Quebec bans niqab for public services with neutrality law

Quebec bans niqab for public services with neutrality law”

Vallee said that the proposed legislation "establishes the neutrality of the Quebec government and its institutions" with the objectives of ensuring effective communication, necessary identification and security.

But the new legislation would affect Muslim women who wear face veils when it comes to accessing government services, whether taking the bus or using the library, or getting healthcare and education.

"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".

While Quebec Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee has said that the proposed rules are about religious neutrality and the notion of "le vivre ensemble", or living together in harmony, critics say the bill unfairly targets Muslim women.

It applies to provincial and municipal employees - including doctors, nurses, teachers and daycare workers - and public transit workers. Rights group have criticised this proposed legislation that would prohibit people wearing face coverings in Quebec, while they are to receive 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. It's a bill that is respectful of civil rights.

Opposition parties voted against the hotly debated Bill 62, saying it doesn't go far enough and should extend to authority figures like judges and police officers.

The law, if passed, would ban clothing covering the face, such as the muslim niqab, or burka, although it doesn't actually mention those items. The government is expected to form a committee and release its guidelines by July.

The government has said individuals will be able to apply for an exemption based on religious accommodation.

Premier Philippe Couillard said he expects the law will be challenged in court since it is at the limit of what is permitted under the Canadian constitution.

But legal experts and mayors across the province have questioned how such an exemption, and the law itself, would be implemented.

Quebec resident Zayneb Binruchd, 21, says she would rather stay home than be forced to take off her niqab to ride a bus.

Bill 62 could go to a vote as early as Tuesday.

"And if the driver says you can come in, will we have citizens who take the law into their own hands?"

"People are scared because the debate is extremely violent", he told Al Jazeera.

"You can not remove fundamental rights if the reasons are not real and urgent and it's impossible to explain that the problem we're trying to solve is either".

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