Quebec votes against burqas

Do women expressing their cultural sense of membership with a distinct way of dressing threaten social cohesion in Canada? It seems that Stéphanie Vallée, Quebec’s minister of justice, would be inclined to agree.

On Wednesday, the provincial legislative in Quebec, Canada, passed a law that bans from wearing face-covering garments if receiving or providing public services. The long-discussed law constitutes the first so-called burqa ban in North America.

According to its proponents, the law aims at improving social cohesion and public security, and it does not target any specific religious group. But, in reality, this line of explanation fails to convince many, provided the implications of the ban will actually affect one group of the society in particular. After the law comes into effect, Muslim women wearing burqas of niqab will not be allowed to receive health care service or ride a bus, which calls into question how exactly is the law promoting social inclusion.

“Rather than helping to facilitate inclusion, as its proponents claim, it excludes citizens in the public sphere and reinforces the marginalization and stigmatization of Canadian Muslims,” commented Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

He also pointed to the wave of discrimination against the Muslim community in Canada. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of hate crimes against Canadian Muslims has increased by 253%, Gardee stated.

Read more on the legislation here.

Photo by Flood G.

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