Montreal march hits gov’t plan to ban religious symbols

By Beverly Bernardo
October 29, 2018
Militant/Brigitte Grouix

MONTREAL — Several thousand people marched through the downtown streets here Oct. 7 protesting plans announced by the newly elected Coalition for the Future of Quebec (CAQ) to follow through on a campaign promise to ban the wearing of religious symbols. The move would bar civil servants in positions of authority, including teachers, judges and police officers, from wearing things like the Christian cross, Jewish kippahs or Muslim head scarves. If they refuse, they will have to transfer to other jobs or leave the civil services, Geneviève Guilbault, a CAQ member of the National Assembly and spokesperson for their transition to government, told reporters Oct. 3.

Sign on right says, “Not only am I going to keep my veil Mr. Legault; I am going to put on my cowboy hat to fight for my rights.” Many Muslim women wearing the hijab or niqab joined the protest. “Mr. Legault change your attitude, my niqab stays,” read a sign carried by one woman marching with her husband and children. It referred to Premier-elect Francois Legault.

“Pauline Marois with her Quebec Charter of Values tried this in 2013, and she didn’t succeed. It’s not going to happen now either,” Naima El, a child care worker originally from Morocco, told the Militant. “Many Muslim women work in child care centers. They can’t fire all of us.”

One group of men wearing the kippah carried placards with the photographs and names of six Muslim men killed in the January 2017 massacre at a mosque near Quebec City.