It looks like the Parti Québécois is serious about trying to ban all religious symbols from publicly funded workplaces.
What a dumb idea.
I'm all for secular workplaces. I fully support the notion that government should have nothing at all to do with religion. But trying to ban all religious symbols is just plain stupid. It reeks of racism and xenophobia. Those most affected by this law are those whose cultures, which are commonly intertwined with non-Christian religions, require the most "drastic" deviations from "traditional" Québécois attire. For Christians who will have to put their crucifix necklaces inside their shirts instead of outside, it's hardly an onerous law. But for Sikhs and Muslims, who feel they are required by religion to wear certain clothes, they will be forced to choose between employment and their beliefs. What possible public good results from Sikh doctors not wearing a turban? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt, that the turban is clean enough to be hospital wear. If that is the case, then why should anyone care if they wear a turban?
What happens if a major religion now adopts a new symbol? Jews, no longer able to wear kippas, are told by their rabbis to wear a plain gold ring on their left hand. Would the Québec courts find that now nobody can wear a wedding ring? How far does this madness go?
Well, let's be honest. We know how far the madness goes. It extends to scary turbans and hijabs and naqibs and skullcaps. Because this law isn't really about promoting secular values. It's about racism. Make it uncomfortable for foreigners to work in the public sector, thus preserving jobs for pure Québécois people.
One of the things Canada has that makes me most proud to be Canadian is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This amazing, visionary law is what ensures that all Canadians are treated equally and respectfully. I don't believe in the religious beliefs that lead people to insist on wearing funny hats all the time. I can imagine a situation where such hats might be completely inappropriate: if a person's religion calls for them to wear loose, baggy clothing, and this is a danger for work in a factory, or a safety law requires a person to wear a helmet. In situations with clear problems related to certain kinds of clothes, it would make sense to restrict what kinds of clothes are allowable. Otherwise, if there is no clear problem being solved by restricting what people can wear, people should be free to express their beliefs. Even if those beliefs are silly, or scary.
The PQ is creating a law that is solely about crushing cultural traditions that are centuries old for no good reason. Its stated purpose is to create unity, but the only unity I can see is the unity of racists against the Others.
Thanks for posting this and highlighting this issue.
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