National Muslim advocacy group denounces Quebec’s plan to ban religious clothing from public institutions

-For Immediate Release-

(Ottawa – August 21, 2013) A prominent national Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization today deplored the Quebec government’s reported plans to ban religious clothing in the public sector as unconstitutional.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) has consistently called on the Quebec government to honour both the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, both of which guarantee freedom of religion.

News agencies reported yesterday that sources confirmed plans to amend the Quebec charter of rights and freedoms to prevent public servants, health care workers, public school teachers, and public daycare workers, from wearing any type of religious clothing or symbol.

« Constitutional lawyers, as well as prominent thinkers in Quebec, have said these types of bans are unconstitutional and draconian, and have no place in Quebec society, » says Ihsaan Gardee, NCCM’s Executive Director. He points to constitutional lawyer Julius Grey’s comments last summer that such discriminatory laws would be struck down in court.

Quebec public intellectual Charles Taylor called the plan « draconian » in an interview yesterday. Mr. Taylor co-authored a report on Reasonable Accommodation in Quebec which continues to gather dust, despite weeks of community consultations across Quebec, and thousands of taxpayer dollars spent on the 2008 initiative to forge a positive way forward for the province in its treatment of minorities.

« It is deeply troubling that the PQ government insists on traveling a road that undermines our social cohesion for which Canada has been admired around the world. Canadians are proud of their multicultural heritage and have welcomed people of all faiths and backgrounds to build on our nation’s strengths. Such proposed laws only turn back the clock on our collective progress as a pluralistic society, » says Gardee.

NCCM is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit grassroots organization that is a leading voice for Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.

Amira Elghawaby, Human Rights Coordinator, 613.254.9704
Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director, 613.853.4111

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