The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) has spoken out against Quebec’s passing of Bill 62 – a law that requires individuals in the province who give or receive any public service to uncover their faces.
The law specifically applies to Muslim women who wear the wear a burka or niqab.
“Today’s decision by the Quebec National Assembly, coming as it does in the lead-up to a provincial election campaign, boils down to ugly identity politics,” said NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee in a statement.
“By tabling this discriminatory legislation, the Quebec government is advancing a dangerous political agenda on the backs of minorities, while pandering to bigoted populism instead of practising principled governance.”
Gardee went on to say that the legislation is an “unjustified infringement of religious freedoms.”
The controversial law was passed in the National Assembly on Wednesday by a vote of 66 to 51.
According to the National Assembly of Quebec, Bill 62 aims to “foster adherence to State and religious neutrality, and in particular, to provide a framework for religious accommodation requests in certain bodies.”
The NCCM’s full statement on Bill 62:
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties & advocacy organization, is deeply concerned by the Quebec National Assembly’s passage today of legislation that discriminates against some Muslim women in the province.The legislation, known as Bill 62, effectively bans public servants and those who receive public services from wearing a face covering, including Muslim women who wear the niqab (face veil). The ban will be in force across municipal services, such as public transit.“Today’s decision by the Quebec National Assembly, coming as it does in the lead-up to a provincial election campaign, boils down to ugly identity politics. By tabling this discriminatory legislation, the Quebec government is advancing a dangerous political agenda on the backs of minorities, while pandering to bigoted populism instead of practising principled governance,” says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.“This legislation is an unjustified infringement of religious freedoms and it is contrary to the values enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms,” adds Gardee.“The Constitution requires the state to be neutral towards religion so as to protect fundamental freedom. State neutrality requires an absence of both direct and indirect state coercion. The state is not neutral when it requires a woman to reveal any part of her body against her conscience as a condition to receiving a public service to which she is entitled,” says NCCM Public Affairs Coordinator Eve Torres.“Rather than facilitating inclusion, this legislation excludes citizens from the public sphere, it reinforces the marginalization of Canadian Muslims, and it risks emboldening those seeking to sow division and hatred between Canadians to amplify an ‘us versus them’ narrative,” says Torres.“The NCCM, in partnership with civil society allies, will be looking at all options now including legal avenues to defend the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadian Muslims and, by extension, those of all Canadians,” says Gardee.The NCCM is an independent, non-partisan and non-profit advocacy organization that is a leading voice for Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.