The withdrawal of a teacher from her class in the Outaouais because she is wearing the hijab continues to arouse outrage. Dozens of people expressed support for Fatemeh Anvari, who has been reassigned to other tasks, and their opposition to State Secularism Act 21 on Wednesday night in Montreal.
The rally was organized by the Non à la loi 21 group which invited participants to wear a green ribbon. They gathered at the intersection of Sainte-Catherine and Jeanne-Mance streets, near Place des Arts, to “say no” to the law they deem “discriminatory” hitting “head-on” the Charter of Rights. and freedoms of the person of Quebec.
Graduating from the baccalaureate in teaching, Amal Sassi wears the veil and felt a “strong sadness” and an “injustice” in front of the reassignment of Ms. Anvari because she violated the law 21 by refusing to remove her veil.
“For me, the scarf is a garment that covers my body. […] If I was forced to work without my veil, I would be able to teach in the same way, but I would feel oppressed because I was forced to take off a piece of clothing that I choose to wear to cover my body. It’s part of my identity, ”she told The Canadian Press.
Rana Lemousawi, an elementary school teacher since 2000, also wearing the veil, finds “unfortunate” what is happening and never expected to see such a situation in Canada. She has the impression of being in a “second class” since the entry into force of Law 21.
“We are now not like the others. […] Why am I being forced to remove it? It is something that I have chosen. No one is forcing me, ”said Ms. Lemousawi, lamenting that she has to remove her veil if she changes posts or school service centers.
The demonstrators called on the Caquista government to “reverse” and “overturn” the law on secularism which prohibits the wearing of religious symbols to people in positions of authority.
The president of the organization Communication for openness and intercultural rapprochement, Samira Laouni, called on Prime Minister François Legault to reflect and have “a little more compassion”.
“Yes to the secularism of the State, but no to the secularism of individuals,” she told the crowd. People are free to be whatever they want. “
According to the founder of the Non à la loi 21 group, Ehab Lotayef, the legislation on secularism has already claimed many “victims” over the past two years.
“There are people who couldn’t find a job and had to leave the province. There are people who have had to choose between their livelihood and what they believe. There are people who have not been able to obtain a promotion even if they were protected by the acquired rights clause of the law, ”he maintained.
People in office before the adoption of the law on the secularism of the state in March 2019 may retain the right to wear a religious symbol. This acquired right (“grandfather clause”) applies as long as the person occupies the same position and works for the same organization.
In Ms. Anvari’s case, she had been hired this year as a substitute for the Western Quebec school board and had been teaching since the fall in an English-language elementary school in Chelsea, north of Gatineau, several media reported.
The teacher’s plight has dismayed many across the country and rekindled the debate surrounding Bill 21, which is currently being challenged in the courts.
Reactions flared to Ottawa where several elected federal officials condemned the law. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau notably reiterated his disagreement with this provincial piece of legislation.
In Quebec, Premier François Legault again defended the law arguing that it had been adopted democratically.
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