Canadian court declares hijab ban legal for civil servants


TRENTON, Canada

A Canadian judge on Tuesday upheld the province of Quebec’s ban on wearing religious symbols for officials such as police officers and teachers.

But there is a derogation from the law.

The judge ruled that the Quebec government cannot apply Bill 21 in English schools because it violates minority language education rights.

Quebec has two school systems – French and English, and French is the official language of the province.

Judge Marc-André Blanchard said in his 240-page ruling that the Quebec government could restrict religious symbols like the Muslim hijab, the Sikh turban, the Jewish kippah and the Christian cross if they are worn by officials while ‘they serve the public.

It affects jobs such as teachers, nurses, bus drivers, prison guards and the police.

He also ruled that elected representatives of the National Assembly of Quebec do not have to remove face coverings like the niqab.

Bill 21 became law in 2019 and has been challenged in court by Muslim and civil liberty groups and Muslim women who have argued that it targets Muslim women who must choose between religion and their vocations.

The Quebec government has said the law is necessary to maintain the secularism of the province – a separate separation between state and religion.

The judge said that parts of the bill “violate section 23 of the Canadian Charter, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada, which provides guarantees for public educational institutions for linguistic minorities.”

In other words, the ban was lifted for minority English-language schools, but not for majority French-language schools.

The English Montreal School Board said in a statement it was satisfied with the decision because it supported diversity for staff and students.

“This legislation goes against what we teach and the culture of respect for individual rights and religious freedom in English-language schools,” he said.

Most legal experts expect the decision to be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, according to a CTV News report.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims tweeted that it was reviewing the decision.

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