Quebec to ban public employees from wearing religious symbols

The Big Story


Fights over religion are not exactly new in Quebec the province has a long history of them. In fact, and there's one fight brewing right now that has implications. Well beyond the provincial border and could spark outrage around the world. Depending on who you ask the issue at stake in Quebec right now has either absolutely no need for any legislation at all. Or is an absolutely critical part of the province's democracy. So small stakes right Quebec's majority. Provincial government plans to adopt Bill twenty one before the national assembly breaks for holiday in mid June. If it passes the Bill would ban public workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols. He can imagine how messy that would get. So why is this Bill necessary? What problem would it solve how much public support? Does. It have how do it supporters defended against criticism that it will unfairly target Muslims, and particular, and why is this an international mess. Just waiting to happen. Jordan, heath Rawlings. And this is the big story. Michael Cohen is a columnist and broadcaster and a recent graduate master's program in divinity at Trinity College. His stink tion with distinguished visiting. Shen? I I'm even special within the special. Well, we wanted to talk to you because this is a a religious matter. And because you've written you've written about it a couple of times, can you briefly just start by explaining what Bill Twenty-one in Quebec claims to do with a very well put that question when he claims to do what it's intended to achieve very different the things, but extensively I missed to remove all obviously, religious identification from public administration. So if you work for the state for the government, and that includes all sorts of things and teaches to police officers, and so on a many jobs in Quebec, you won't be allowed to wear things such as and he has become very pertinent Islamic headcovering. If you're a woman, perhaps a very obvious crucify. Fix. If you're a Christian yarmulkes skull Cobb, if you're Jewish and this would include a turban if you're a Sikh. Won't apply to people already in the service bought? It was brought in by a Quebec government that is populous to large degree on one with a safe majority and still have the majority and as I wrote him mcclain's. They certainly have the right to do this. Whether they they have the responsibility to act in such a way, but what is really aimed at quite obviously is Muslim women very few Jewish people where yarmulke some do modern orthodox Jews pretty wouldn't be in the public services much if you wear a crucifix. Well, it's generally underneath share and tuck it in. Yeah. And it's not required. There's no Christian nomination that requires that the Quebec was was clinical. It was a clerical state as was island as well. As to send incense Spain for the longest time, and all of these countries or provinces have reacted to that. And the related secularism. It's not particularly contemporary in Germany in the nineteenth century had what was called the call to come for whether the the Prussian state, which was Protestant. But just secular. Bismarckian wanted to defeat the power of the Catholic church in the south, and you have elements of that in what's going on now. So what happened in Quebec is that the Catholic church has really been expunged from power and on the prince has become fairly prosperous, partly as a result. But it's just I it's a coincidence. But after Catholicism came the the next most visible religion, which was the slim, and you have to throw into this is I'm a phobia, and I think the term is overused. It's one thing to to be very very angry about the what ISIS does and about the extremism that is within Islam, but that's a tiny minority of Muslim people. A most of the victims of that sort of craziness are the Muslims. What is the reasoning behind this from the government's point of view? What argument are they making about why this should happen? Just in state. They say there has to be a tangible division separation between church and state, and I think most Canadians would agree with that. We don't have that in our constitution, the Americans, actually, do we don't but affectively. We do have it. We don't have an established church like in England. And I think there are many people in Quebec because the left two largest into supported this, by the way, I think who would say, yes, we must have that. But another part of it is simply all of the polls of the ball pretty much supposedly being taken of showing. There is more anti-muslim feeling in Quebec than other parts of Canada. Yeah. Quebec is always been fairly raw in those terms. Its relationship with his Jewish minority. Montreal in particular has always been being not a troubled one. But a more vibrant, one, I suppose in some ways if you think of Linda Cohen and Mordecai Richler on on some, but at the same time there are issues there. So that there is the if you let positive church and state separation and the negative which is we don't like these people they have to completely assimilate with suspicious of so both of those elements are involved. What does it look like when it takes effect on the ground who will be impacted? The most was good question. We don't really know. We've already had some young women. Who are the he job who teaches English? They'll resign. They won't teach anymore. The protests all taking place. Teachers unions are very angry. I suspect as with the New Zealand symbolic gesture you would have some non Muslim women when wearing the job as a protest. But here's the problem. It will marginalize people who want to be part of mainstream society. I mean, this was like a birthday present to the radicals though. So because the Muslim radical position it all over the world, not just in case, I know Europe. Well, what they say to to almost as you will never fit in you part of world is lab, you're not part of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, so in a never never think you are now mostly Muslims. So that's not true. I am. You know, I I'm British. I'm french. I'm Jim and what to say to someone you cannot wear the job. Yeah. The radicals. And I've already read some of the propaganda. You see we told you. So they don't like you. They don't want you can only fit in. If you if you lose your slam and and Quebec has. They've said they're trying to defeat radicalism. They've played into his hands are outwardly visible religious symbols. Actually, a problem in any way that the government needs to address do we know of any sort of reasoning behind things that are resulting from this that the government should could could at least extensively be claiming to be fixing with this. I think the the book or the the full covering, which is very it's very isolated. There were very few people who actually have that. I think that is problematic. If you can't really see the person, you're speaking to this body language involved in a court of law, for example, or driving a car, but that's a tiny fringe, and that can be an and they're up most people, I know in the humidity have some issues with that too. But the hijab which is far more common, which you see quite a bit icon think of any problem. I mean, it's a problem for those people who regard it as a problem there. There have been experiments undertaken where people have put on a yarmulke a Jewish prayer cuff. Garing and won't through various areas to find out what the reaction is. Right. And it's not a problem for the person who's wearing it and phenomenal decent people. But the anti Semite for the big. It's a problem. There aren't many of those. I don't see this as being problematic. But I see on the in Toronto all the time young Muslim girls, we're gonna hit job and young girls. Have also races not wearing it. Just locking about being kids together just being normal and Canadian and we haven't seen it before. It's a new generation, but that's been said over and over again that was said when when ours Catholics came that was said when when Jews came the there's always a group who will react badly to a newcomer, but I don't see it as being offensive. I don't see how a teacher wearing a hit job is less able to do her job than a teacher not wearing when it comes to the wearing of the turban, and we dealt with this kind of long ago, you know, when seeks will prepare to late in their lives in huge numbers for the empire, the coming wealth in the second World War. And of course, the first World War people didn't. So I don't have. That you know, the head gear. And so if a Sikh qualms to be a call carry a sidearm and say, I'm gonna enforce law and order, and we said, well, you can't do it. Because of what you're wearing on. You know, we will most sensible than that. So all of these things can be accommodated. But there's some people who don't want to accommodate what has

Coming up next