If you've been following Quebec provincial politics lately you know that the Coalition Avenir du Quebec, led by François Legault, has tabled a bill that would ban all religious symbols for people considered as "public servants" in positions of authority.
The Bill 21 would require people in these work positions to abandon any indication of their faith, including turbans, hijabs, kippahs and more.
While Legault continues to affirm that this is what "the vast majority of Quebecers want," the responses below show that many people are more than a little unhappy with this direction.
TL;DR While Legault insists most of Quebec is onside with Bill 21's objective to ban religious symbols for people who work as "public servants," many people are speaking out about the implications of such a ban.
We have pretty much eliminated teaching, healthcare and policing from the career opportunities available to Muslim women. As if we can afford, as a society to not have the beat available people in those jobs.— Sickofwinter65 (@ramaswife) March 29, 2019
#Quebec is set to ban public servants—teachers, police officers, judges, etc.—from wearing religious symbols including hijabs, crosses, turbans, and yarmulkes. So much for tolerance.— Captain (@TooHalal4You) March 29, 2019
The tweets above highlight two important issues. The first is that we are likely to lose many current public servants that aren't able to adhere to the new laws because of their faith.
The ban does have a clause of "grandfathering" - wherein staff who are currently employed in these positions and actively wear religious symbols will be able to continue doing so, as long as they don't change positions.
I have no desire to wear a religious symbol. But the test of my commitment to religious freedom is whether I am willing to defend the rights of other religious people to wear religious symbols. I am willing. This is an infringement on religious freedom. It must be opposed. https://t.co/7GJD1DN6Oj— Anna Robbins (@Annabubba) March 29, 2019
Which is presumably just what the Coalition Avenir Québec wants: a Québec that is mono religious, monochrome, mono ethnic, and monolingual.— Gavin Moodie (@GavinMoodie) March 29, 2019
Other criticisms include the hypocrisy of banning the symbols of religious minorities, when the symbol for Christianity is seen in public places all across the city, and the province at large.
While Legault is quick to justify those crosses as part of the province's "history," it is hard to appreciate his devotion to secularism while these bastions of Christian faith are seen so abundantly in public spaces.
No, I mean I disagree with the hypocrisy of banning some displays of religious symbols by public officials but maintaining other displays of religious symbols by public officials.— Gavin Moodie (@GavinMoodie) March 29, 2019
The first stage, ‘Classification’, the government divides the people into ‘us’ and ‘them’. The third stage ‘Discrimination’ where the law denies the right of the ‘Other’ groups*. According to this, we are already in Stage 1. /7— Glaser-Hille Ildikó (@GHIldiko) March 29, 2019
*https://t.co/hPya5ZQ3XU Retrieved Mar 29 2019
The mayor of Cote Saint-Luc spoke with the CBC in February saying he would not be enforcing this ban. In his tweet below, published yesterday, he reconfirms this sentiment.
Brownstein actually went so far as to say his city council would "vigorously oppose" the adoption of this bill, or any bill that would "ban provincial civil servants in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols."
Another Montreal mayor, Beny Masella of Montreal West, also stated that he would not enforce this kind of rule in his town.
We adopted a resolution against Bill 21 in February. https://t.co/8RnAHNbqGB— Mitchell Brownstein (@mbrownsteincsl) March 31, 2019
Well, Saturday and Sunday observance are religious symbols, so got to ban those. Wednesday & Friday are pagan religious symbols, so ban those. Men wear trousers for religious reasons, so ban those. Beards for some are religious symbols so ban those.— Captain Blood (@Captain93260035) March 29, 2019
While the tweet above is clearly bordering on satire, it makes a good point. We don't realize how much of our regular day-to-day life is impacted by the religion of those who came before us.
Where is the line between history and religion in a province that was built by religious leaders and nuns?
yesh, i just peeped the ban on religious symbols. i can’t say i’m surprised but it is disgusting nonetheless.— IAMNOTMYHISTORY (@IAMNOTMYHISTORY) March 29, 2019
Those who want a ban on public employees wearing religious symbols in Quebec are those whose racism lets them assume:— Alirio (@alirio) March 29, 2019
1-Religious people will treat them unfairly if they’re of a different faith.
2-Religious people stop being religious when they take off their hijabs or turbans.
And of course, there is an apparent undercurrent of racism that is difficult to ignore.
As seen in the tweets above, there seems to be an unavoidable sense of "othering" going on, when the religious symbols getting the most attention are those of religions that would be considered "religious minorities" in Quebec.