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Quebec Law Could Force Women Who Wear Hijabs Out of Jobs

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Hijabs may soon be forbidden for some workers in Quebec, Canada.

The incoming government of the province, led by the federalist Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) party, recently announced plans to outlaw the wearing of religious garb by certain employees of the state – including teachers, reports the Guardian.

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“It’s part of who I am,” Maha Kassef, an elementary school teacher in Quebec, told the Guardian. “If they tell me to remove it, I guess they’ll have to manage that many more little crazy people in the classroom on their own. The school system is already stressed. Do you think this will help kids have a quality education?”

The new government, which will be sworn in on Oct. 18, insists that “secularism law is necessary to preserve Quebec’s culture and historic church-state divide,” noted the report.

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While there will be a period of transition to allow employees to adjust, ultimately anyone who refuses to remove religious articles “will have made the choice to no longer have a job if they wish to continue wearing a religious symbol,” said CAQ elected representative Geneviève Guilbault in an interview with the Guardian.

While CAQ leader François Legault did speak to the new law during the recent election campaign, he mostly highlighted plans on reducing the number of immigrants Quebec would take in by 20% — a commitment that supporters maintain is meant to preserve the French-speaking Québécois culture.

Bill 62 is commonly called the “religious neutrality law” and does not specifically mention niqabs or burqas, noted Global News. But those opposed to the new measure say the law unfairly targets Muslim women.

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To wit, the party has stated it has no plans to remove a gold crucifix from Quebec’s National Assembly, installed in 1936 to represent the connection between the state and the then-dominant Catholic church.

“I don’t see it as [the crucifix] a religious sign,” said Legault. “I see that as part of history, being part of our values.”

UPDATED Oct. 18 1:30 p.m. — This article was edited to clarify information regarding Bill 62 and the CAQ party.