Quebec Passes Law Banning Facial Coverings

Quebec Passes Law Banning Facial Coverings

Quebec Passes Law Banning Facial Coverings

Quebec has passed a sweeping ban on face coverings - barring public workers and citizens from wearing the niqab or burqa, when seeking government services or riding public transit.

The National Assembly of Quebec voted Wednesday to ban burqas, the full-face Islamic coverings, for all public servants and those receiving public services.

"By tabling this discriminatory legislation, the Quebec government is advancing a unsafe political agenda on the backs of minorities, while pandering to bigoted populism instead of practicing principled governance", Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), said in a statement.

Jagmeet Singh, leader of Canada's New Democratic Party, told the Huffington Post in August that Bill 62 "contravenes individuals freedoms" and would "disproportionately impact Muslims".

"Forcing people to show their faces when they ride the bus or banning women from wearing a niqab when they pick up a book from the library will only divide us", Premier Kathleen Wynne said.

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.

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Under the law, which will take effect by July 1, 2018, anyone providing or receiving public services must do so with their face uncovered, unless a cover is needed because of "working conditions or task-related requirements". "We are not legislating on clothing", she added.

But Canadian Muslim groups have long complained that the legislation, which languished for years before it was passed, 66-51, on Wednesday, would penalise Muslims, particularly in a province where few women wear face coverings.

Ali Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council for Muslim Women, said she was dismayed to see such a political move at a time when Canada is striving to be a role model in respecting human rights.

The niqab and burka are not mentioned in the legislation, according to CBC.

Reuters Two women wearing niqabs. 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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