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BILL 62 NIQAB (FAITH) IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE

17 November 2017 No Comment

BILL 62 NIQAB (FAITH) IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE
Imam Dr. Ziyad Delic

Is Bill 62 a toxic discourse? It makes the Muslim community think one more time about the Niqab and Niqabi women’s place in Quebec/Canada from a Canadian human rights perspective and the freedom of religion in Canada.
The Supreme Court ruled that freedom of religion is not dependent on religious rulings or dogma and freedom protects all sincerely held religious beliefs and practices regardless of whether they are sanctioned in jurisprudence or not. The3 exception is when there are security concerns.

The adoption of Bill 62 by Quebec’s National Assembly on October 18th, 2017, is a response to the decade-long controversial debate over the accommodation of religious minorities in the province. The objective of the Bill was to establish religious neutrality; however, it has nothing to do with neutrality. Instead, the Bill denies a wide range of essential services (riding the bus, using the library, going for a medical check-up or meeting with a child’s teacher) to the Niqabi women if they do not uncover their faces while receiving the public services. .
Several Canadian Muslim National organizations issued a statement expressing concern about possible repercussions and suggested that the Bill encourages divisiveness, creates inequality, and violates our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Debates about the Niqab were used by some politicians as a tactic to distract citizens from for the real issues such as the economy. Politicians have to take their responsibilities seriously.
Canada is a pluralistic society and shuns assimilation to respect its multicultural character.
Some compromise is needed as in the case of a Niqabi women being identified by a female officer before a citizenship ceremony or entering a plane. All issues require a mature response. The debate will be toxic, and become even more toxic, if respect for difference is white-washed as a problem for only Niqabi Muslim women. Although there is a really small number of Niqabi women in Quebec and Canada Bill 62 is the nadir of a debate that challenges all Quebeckers and Canadians to think about the privatization of religion, restricting it to the home and the places of worship, hiding it from public view and ultimately declaring that religion has no place in the public square. Religion is the safeguard to the moral integrity of society and it belongs in the public square.

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