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Secularization in Quebec

Autor:   •  April 15, 2018  •  Essay  •  1,541 Words (7 Pages)  •  134 Views

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With globalization at its peak, many nations are experiencing unprecedented immigration and governments are adapting their laws and policies to manage these cultural and societal changes. On October 18, 2017 Quebec passed Bill 62, legislation stating that on must uncover their face when giving or receiving a public service. The initial legislation was aimed primarily at public services, but was widened to municipal services. This would entail that facial coverings could not be worn in places such as public transit or in subsidized housing offices. The topic of the removal of religious symbols in the public sphere has been a very controversial topic to discuss and even more so now that it is occurring in Canada which is deemed to be the most multicultural country in the world. Many Muslims in Quebec, particularly women, fear that they will be discriminated against even more after the passage of Bill 62 and question whether or not it is constitutional to enforce such laws. It is evident that with no clear guidelines on enforcing this law and its unconstitutional nature that Bill 62 should be challenged and a different approach towards religious symbols in the public sphere should be sought.

Religious Symbols

To begin analysing the nature of Bill 62, we have to look at the history of Quebec and its ties with religion as well as the specific religious symbols that can potentially be removed from the public. The most prominent religious symbols that would be affected by Bill 62 is the niqab, a headscarf worn by mostly Muslim women. It is draped over their head and covers their hair, face, ears and neck. A burqa would also be affected by the legislation as it covers most of the face as well as the body. These garments are integral parts of teachings in the Quran and are deeply ingrained in their culture. Other religious symbols such as the turban, kirpan, yarmulke and crucifix are all strongly tied to their respective religion and would all be at risk of removal following legislation similar to Bill 62.

History of Secularization in Quebec

Secularization in Quebec can be traced back to the mid-19th century, around the time when the Quiet Revolution occurred. This was a time where there was a strong change in socio-political and cultural change in Quebec, characterized by a transformation to a secular government as well as major economic reforms. Shortly after this period, there were several occurrences of young students being thrown out of school because of their religious symbols. When the commission of Quebec was asked to provide a statement on these events, they stated that this was clearly a violation of freedom of religion and right to an education and that schools must seek reasonable accommodations for Muslim students. In 2013, the PQ party proposed legislation similar to Bill 62 which would limit the


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