Quebec’s ban on facial coverings, widely seen as targeting Muslim women in garb that covers everything but the eyes, is making headlines around the world.
The law – thought to be the first of its kind in North America – is being compared to U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, with others suggesting it will exacerbate Islamophobia.
In the Washington Times, a writer suggested the Quebec law goes further than Trump’s.
“President Donald Trump may be fighting off accusations — unfounded and ridiculous — that his travel ban on terror hotspot tourists is actually a Muslim ban,” wrote Cheryl Chumley, the paper’s online opinion editor.
“But in Quebec, it’s much, much closer to the real thing. Lawmakers there just passed a bill barring those who wear face coverings — yes, like the niqab, like the burqa — from accessing public services. This is a smart, safety-oriented measure. But Muslims will protest, claiming they’re unfairly singled out by government. Ostensibly, clowns wearing face masks won’t be allowed to ride public transportation, either, so it’s not as if the ban will only affect Muslims.”
In Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, Quebec’s law was described as “a legislated expression of Islamophobia.” The opinion piece by Mira Sucharov said Quebec “is threatening the delicate balance between religion and state in Canada, while furthering Islamophobia through what is, effectively, a wide-ranging ban on the niqab and burqa.”
The Independent, in London, published a Reuters story that noted “right-wing extremist groups and some local French-speaking media in recent years have targeted Quebec’s Muslims as part of a broader debate on the accommodation of religious and cultural minorities in the province.
“Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. In January, six people were killed in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque. A French-Canadian university student has been charged as the sole suspect.”
The Guardian, which considered the law important enough to warrant an alert to users of its phone app, reported “widespread confusion as to how the new law would be applied and who it would affect.”
It continued: “The Liberal government has long argued that the legislation — which does not specifically mention the niqab or burqa — addresses public safety, noting that it would also apply to masked protesters…. (but) others – citing a 2016 survey that suggested that just 3% of Muslim women in Canada wear the niqab – have accused the provincial government of targeting Muslim women in order to curry votes in the run-up to next year’s provincial election.”
In its report, BBC noted that “bureaucrats, police officers, teachers, and bus drivers, as well as doctors, midwives, and dentists who work in publicly funded hospitals and health centres, will have to have their face uncovered. The law will also stop provincially subsidised childcare services from offering religious education.
“Quebec’s Bill 62 does not specifically mention the Muslim faith. The government says the bill includes all types of face coverings and is not meant to target Muslims. 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 health care and education.”
The Al Jazeera network reported that, “currently, the bill states that accommodation is possible for a handful of reasons, including as long as it does not compromise the principle of State religious neutrality. But legal experts and mayors across the province have questioned how such an exemption, and the law itself, would be implemented.”
RFI, a French radio network, noted that “a Muslim woman will not be able to board a city bus if her veil only shows her eyes, or to be treated at the public hospital. On the other hand, she will be able to legally walk along public roads.”
France prohibits the complete covering of one’s face in public.
Source: Andy Riga