Canadian Province Outlaws Face-Covering Garments in Public

All Americans passionately believe in the freedom of religion. However other cultures can to view religion in a slightly different perspective. For instance, in France during the year of 2011, the niqab which is what the facial covering that Muslims where is called was outlawed in public places. Those unfamiliar with this garment might recognize them as being the cloth that covers everything except the immediate area that surrounds the eyes. This French law bans these covers anywhere that is considered a public place, which means they can be worn in only allowing places of worship and cars. This was the first band of its kind inside of Europe.

Europe and France Established the Precedence

Many people in France considered this a liberating law for women. This was because these women were free from wearing such a garment. In 2014, the “burqa ban” of France was upheld by the high courts in Europe. Of course, laws like this have their limits. Another court in France suspended such a ban that was put in place within seaside communities on the so-called “burkini’s. This was the result of several fierce protests, which was sparked by a situation where policeman in the city of Nice had forced a Muslim woman to take off a bit of her clothing while at the beach. However, in spite of this brief setback, several countries have actually followed the lead that France set for them.

These facial coverings are forbidden on public transportation in the Netherlands, but they are fine to use in public places, as long as it doesn’t jeopardize public security. And last year, Austria implemented a facial covering ban in schools and courts. And also in the United States, there was a similar bill proposed by the legislature in Georgia only to be withdrawn later.

No More Public Facial Covers

Now it seems that the Canadians are looking to what countries have done in Europe. Québec has taken steps to ban the burqa, niqab, as well as other facial coverings within places that government services are rendered. Specifically, this pertains to public transportation, hospitals, schools, and even municipal buildings. Furthermore, doctors, nurses, teachers and especially daycare workers will be forbidden barred from wearing any garment that covers the face.  

The bill is known as “Bill 62”, and had been set aside only two years ago, but had been brought up again. It easily passed through the National Assembly of Québec last week. So the question now is how is it going to be enforced?

Quebec’s Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée has said, “As long as the service is being rendered, the face should be uncovered.” This is effectively maintaining a neutral stance in all religious matters and also helps facilitate communication, pointed out. It will also aid in security because of quicker identifications. However, critics are whining because they feel it takes on Muslim women unnecessarily which will only increase intolerance and derision within their society.

However, the great Premier of Quebec Philippe Couillard has fiercely defended this law. “We are in a free and democratic society,” he reminded everyone . “You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. It’s as simple as that.” Even his party of liberals approved this law. And they are currently enjoying the majority within in the National Assembly of the province.

There is an exception written into the law. One may make a “serious request” on religious grounds for an exemption. But these are not very well defined, critics argue. Few if any procedural points have been elucidated. Examples given are providing religious instruction or care, say in a hospital setting. Those wearing masks for occupational reasons such as working with hazardous materials, will still be allowed to use them.