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Quebec Proposal to Ban Religious Symbols Sparks Public Outcry

The Parti Québécois government plans to ban workers in the public sector from wearing religious symbols of any kind

By: Daniel Koren
Published: August 22nd, 2013 in News » World
Religious Symbols

The Parti Québécois government has implied that they plan to ban employees working within the public sector from wearing religious symbols or dress of any kind.

Naturally, the suggestion has sparked a public outcry in Quebec and beyond, with many Quebec residents saying they would leave the province before defying their religious beliefs.

According to CBC News, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau met with Premier Pauline Marois on Wednesday to discuss the issue, warning that such a decision would result in a "very strong backlash here in Quebec."

"To force people ... to decide between their job and their religion or decide whether or not they are Quebecers first or Muslim first — for me, that's not a question we should be asking people to think about, as Canadians or as Quebecers," he said.

Thus far, the Parti Québécois government has yet to confirm if such a law will actually be put into practice, following details that were leaked to the Journal de Montréal Tuesday stating that all public employees will be subjected to following a 'Charter of Quebec Values', prohibiting them from wearing Star of Davids, Christian Crosses, and traditional Jewish, Sikh and Muslim headwear while in the workplace.

"I know there will be a lot of people who will be strongly expressing their very real concerns with the direction this government wants to take this province," Trudeau added.

But not everyone in Quebec seems to share Trudeau's sentiments.

CBC reports that Michel Lincourt of the Mouvement laïque québécois, a group that encourages secularism throughout Quebec, argues that religious symbols are merely propaganda, and have no place in the public sector.

"The school is where you create citizens with the same feeling, the same awareness of their civic duties, their civic responsibilities and their civic rights," he said.

"If they want to integrate themselves, they should accept the laws of the community," he added.

The issue has already begun to divide Quebec's various religious communities, with individuals on all sides afraid for being ostracized if they refuse to comply if such a law comes to practice.

Jason Kenney, Federal Minister of Multiculturalism, put many of those worries to rest by taking to Twitter, saying "Freedom of religion is a universal principle. A child is no less Canadian because he or she wears a kippa, turban, cross or hijab to school."

Related articles: PQ, Religious Symbols, Quebec, Religion, Jewish News
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