Late Sunday evening, the Quebec National Assembly passed the controversial Bill 21 into law, formally forbidding many public servants, including police officers and teachers, from wearing religious symbols like the hijab or yarmulke while performing their duties.
The passage of the law was met with widespread condemnation throughout Canada. In Montreal, opposition to Bill 21, which is often labelled racist and Islamophobic, has taken to the streets.Several rallies have sprouted in the city since the measure became law.
Now, a group of Montrealers are organizing daily hunger strikes outside the Montreal office of premier François Legault to demonstrate their resistance to the ban. "As long as there is injustice, there will be no social peace," one participant told MTLBlog.
The "rotating hunger strike" allows protestors to fast for 24-hour periods. Others will commit to 5 consecutive days without food. "I might not have a lot to give, but I will put my body on the line to prevent this bill," another participant made clear.
MTLBlog visited the scene of the strike and spoke with protestors this afternoon. Watch that video below:
"This is our message to the government: you may have an electoral majority, but you have no moral standing in terms of commitment to human rights and equality."
Vague language in the new bill has also raised concerns of possible surveillance and punitive measures for civil servants who disobey the ban on religious symbols, according to Global News.
A last-minute amendment to the bill allows for "corrective measures, including oversight and support measures" to force Quebec workers to comply, according to La Presse and the text of the amendment.
Concerningly to some critics, these measures are not specified, allowing for potentially wide interpretation and application.
Members of the opposition has called this measure an attempt to establish a "secularism police."
The current hunger strike in downtown Montreal will last until June 22nd.
Stay tuned for more news on the opposition to Bill 21.