Many think that the case of the hijab-wearing teacher in Chelsea was preparatory work to embarrass Quebec and pressure Ottawa to act.

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A hijab-wearing teacher was hired by an English public school in Chelsea, western Quebec, despite the law prohibiting teachers from wearing religious symbols at work. Unsurprisingly, the school board had no choice but to apply the law. But why did they hire her in the first place?


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Many think it was preparatory work to embarrass Quebec and pressure Ottawa to act.

The prevailing view in English Canada, shared by some Francophones, is that it is racist, or at least discriminatory, to ask government employees in positions of authority to remove religious symbols at work in the name of secularism or secularism, even if this rule applies. to followers of all religions, including Catholicism.

Many also believe that Bill 21 targets Muslim women.

Incorrect. According to the 2011 census, there are approximately 243,000 Muslims in Quebec, 85,000 Jews and 9,200 Sikhs. These numbers, along with employment patterns, ensure that the center of attention falls disproportionately on Muslim teachers.

It seems that belittling Quebec’s secularism, the separation of church and state, is Canada’s new national sport.


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Laïcité is a social philosophy born in France with the French Revolution and institutionalized by the 1905 law on the Separation of Churches and State. Under laïcité, a state can ban a scarf, but not a religion. The first sentence of the law states that the republic protects freedom of conscience. When church and state cannot dictate each other, neutrality arises.

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France embraced secularism to wrest education from the Catholic Church, which controlled the classroom until 1886, when secularization began. Priests and nuns were ordered to remove religious clothing. The same thing happened in Quebec in the 1960s. Everyone obeyed. The cassocks and cornets disappeared.

Employees of the French state, 5.63 million of them, cannot to this day wear hijabs, turbans, crosses and kippah at work. It has nothing to do with racism. Thousands upon thousands of French Muslim women have no problem working in government positions without covering their heads.


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Why is it such a big problem in Canada?

I can hear some say “because it is discriminatory”. But Quebecers seriously fear a revival of religion and the chaos it would create. A few years ago, I announced to a religious group that I wanted a faith-based Quebec youth protection agency. This would have been a step backwards.

English Canadians, like Americans, adopted the Anglo-Saxon philosophy of freedom, which places a strong emphasis on personal freedom. It is a cultural trait.

French culture is different. It will accommodate decisions that restrict personal freedom if they significantly benefit the nation. Francophone Quebecers have a difficult relationship with France, but they appreciate its culture. It is our birthright.


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Canada loves multiculturalism and sees no problem with people living largely within their own cultural or religious communities if they so choose. Quebecers prefer interculturality and want an egalitarian and fully integrated society.

In 2016, a developer wanted to build up to 80 houses on Montreal’s south shore specifically aimed at Muslims. He had even specified that women should dress modestly when leaving home. Pressure from all sides, even from the local magnet, quickly put an end to that. A separate religious neighborhood would be heretical for Quebecers.

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But in English Canada, it seems, most people don’t seem to have a problem. when public schools close their cafeterias to pray , with the sexes segregated and the girls relegated to the back of the room. I cannot understand why such nonsense is tolerated.

As a citizen of Canada, I respect what Canadians accept, but as a Quebecer, it makes my hair stand on end.

Wouldn’t it be nice if English Canada offered the vast majority of Quebecers, including some secular Muslims, who support Bill 21 the same openness to Quebec’s way of seeing the world?

We are culturally different. Not superior, just different. Why is it so difficult to respect the obvious?

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