NCCM WELCOMES NEWS THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL INTERVENE IN THE LEGAL CHALLENGE AGAINST QUEBEC’S BILL 21 IF IT REACHES THE SUPREME COURT
(Montréal – May 25, 2022)
In 2019, the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), with the lead plaintiff Ichrak Nourel Hak, began a court challenge against the Quebec Act respecting the laicity of the State, better known as Bill 21. Bill 21 bars certain civil servants—including prosecutors, police officers, and teachers —from wearing religious symbols (like hijabs, turbans, kippahs, and more) at work in Quebec.
Bill 21 is a discriminatory piece of legislation that targets marginalized communities by facilitating second class citizenship. NCCM has been against it from the very start and has long called for it to be repealed in a province that has witnessed an alarming level of Islamophobia.
Amidst this troubling climate, Bill 21 stands out as a clear example of systemic discrimination that flies in the face of Canada’s commitment to religious freedom and free expression. Last year, for example, elementary school teacher Fatemeh Anvari was forced to leave her posting in Chelsea, Quebec because she, a Muslim, wears the hijab. Sadly, her situation is one of many.
We have urged all parties to commit to taking action on Bill 21. We are pleased to see that the Liberal government has committed itself to intervening against the law should our challenge reach the Supreme Court.
“We have worked on this file for a long time, and today is a historic juncture in the fight against systemic discrimination in Quebec’s history,” says NCCM CEO Mustafa Farooq. “Quebecers have led this fight from day 1 to simply want to do their jobs without being harassed by a law that clearly discriminates against minority communities. We have called on the federal government to show its solidarity with diverse Quebecers by standing with them in the civil liberties battle of our generation. We are therefore pleased to see Minister Lametti’s announcement today”.
The legal challenge against Bill 21 is currently in front of the Quebec Court of Appeal.