As Canadians seek to combat anti-Muslim prejudice, Quebec’s Bill 21 is under scrutiny again
A vehicle attack in London, Ontario earlier this week killed all but a young member of the Afzaal family. This is the third time a Canadian Muslim has been murdered for their faith in the past four years.
Since the alleged anti-Muslim motives were revealed on Monday, collective introspection has been ongoing.
Like the fatal stabbing at the Etobicoke Mosque in 2020 and the shooting of six Muslims in Quebec City in 2017, many people are now trying to determine the source of Islamophobia in the country.
This time, attention quickly turned to Quebec’s Laicity Act, which was passed in 2019, prohibiting public teachers, police and government lawyers, and other civil servants from wearing religious signs at work.
Although the law-commonly referred to as Act No. 21-does not mention any religion, it particularly affects Muslim women wearing hijabs, whose public teaching was once a popular career choice.
At a press conference on Tuesday, three different reporters asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau three times whether he would now oppose Bill 21 more strongly.
In answering one of the questions, Trudeau said: “I have long expressed my disagreement with Bill 21.” “But I also said that Quebecers should challenge and defend their rights in court, and they have been doing this. “
Columnists from the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, and The Globe and Mail believe that to take Islamophobia seriously requires Trudeau and other federal leaders to criticize Act 21 more severely .
Advocate in Ontario Muslim community It also pointed out that Quebec law is one of a series of state-supported measures to stigmatize Muslims.
Mayor of Calgary Nasheed NenschIsmaili Muslims made similar comments on Tuesday, saying: “I can see the connection between Quebec 21 and what we are seeing. [in London].”
However, in Quebec, the criticism of Act 21 was interpreted as an attempt by British Canada to attribute the London attack to a law: a.) democratically passed, b.) not applicable to Ontario.
“These comments illustrate the degree of contempt for Quebecers and Quebec democratic choices in other parts of Canada,” said Paul Saint-Pierre Pramondon, leader of the Quebec Party, whose party voted for Bill 21.
Watch | Québec Group leader Yves-François Blanchett discusses the London attack and Quebec’s Act No. 21
In the nationalist paradigm that currently dominates Quebec politics, people are more sensitive to suggestions that racism prevails in the province. It is believed that the implication of the allegations is that Quebecers are a backward person who will benefit from the moral lessons of good people in other parts of Canada.
This may explain why the attempt to link Act 21 to the London attack angered even the most fierce opponents of the law.
“Take care of your own business,” Manon Masai, the parliamentary leader of Quebec’s left-wing Solidarity, told the rest of Canada at a news conference on Wednesday.
She then went on to criticize Act No. 21 because it discriminated against women and caused fear among minorities.
Act 21 becomes a rallying point
But it was not Act 21 that was singled out for review this week.
Nenshi also stated that he saw a connection between the London attack and the recent changes in the school curriculum in Alberta, calling it “someone else from a European perspective.”
One of the reasons Bill 21 appears in such a company is because laws can communicate social norms; they indicate which behaviors are considered acceptable—and which behaviors are unacceptable.
This was made by Eric Hehman, a psychologist at McGill University, who testified for the British School Board, which was one of several groups that challenged the constitutionality of Act 21 in court last year.
A judge of the Quebec High Court eventually upheld most of the law, but ruled that it could not be applied to the province’s English school board. The ruling quoted a passage from Herman’s testimony.
“[Bill 21 is] It may be considered to convey norms about people wearing religious signs…especially women wearing headscarves,” he said. These groups.”
If a law conveys social norms that are biased against Muslims, as Herman’s proposed Act No. 21 does, it is not surprising that many people will ask if it contributes to Islamophobia.
When his government passed Act No. 21 into law, Premier François Legault promised to end the heated debate about the status of minorities in Quebec society.
On the contrary, this week, it has become a rallying point for those trying to hold governments at all levels responsible for repeated hate-based violence in Canada.