Posted on September 11, 2013

Religious Minorities Face Fight-or-Flight Choice as Quebec Values Charter Released

Nelson Wyatt and Peter Rakobowchuk, Yahoo! News, September 11, 2013

The choices for Quebec’s observant religious minorities now seem to boil down to fight or flight with the release of details of Quebec’s proposed charter of values.

It bans religious symbols from the public service and would forbid employees from wearing such garments as the hijab, turban and kippa.

Compliance is another option, but not for Diaa Quarmauch, a Muslim woman who came to Canada from Morocco. Forget about asking her to remove her hijab.

“I will never change,” the 34-year-old said Tuesday. “I will never take it off. I think the Muslims will leave Canada before they take off their veils.”

Although religious minorities are open to debating the charter, the tone was more defiant on Tuesday.

Demonstrations are slated for later this week and a Muslim leader said his group is ready to go to court if necessary.

“I promise you, if this becomes law, we will help anyone to challenge this law all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to,” said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal.

The so-called “values charter” announced by the government would impose broad restrictions, unique in North America, on religious clothing for employees in all public sector institutions including schools, hospitals and courts.

While the cross above Montreal’s Mount Royal and the crucifix in the legislature are OK because they are considered part of the province’s heritage, government employees wearing a crucifix would have to conceal it. Religious headgear such as hijabs, burkas, kippas, veils and turbans would also be forbidden.