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Groups say Quebec bill on religious symbols violates minority rights

A Quebec bill is proposing a religious symbols can for public sector workers.
A Quebec bill is proposing a religious symbols can for public sector workers. Getty Images

Groups defending the rights of minorities and women have come together to denounce Quebec’s new legislation restricting the wearing of religious symbols.

Seven groups including Amnesty International and the province’s main women’s federation attacked the secularism bill as discriminatory at a news conference today.

READ MORE: Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante slams Quebec government’s secularism bill

France-Isabelle Langlois, Amnesty International’s director for French-speaking Canada said the Coalition Avenir Quebec bill contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

WATCH: Jagmeet Singh reacts to Quebec secularism bill, says, ‘I remember what it’s like to feel I don’t fit in’

Jagmeet Singh reacts to Quebec secularism bill: ‘I remember what it’s like to feel I don’t fit in’
Jagmeet Singh reacts to Quebec secularism bill: ‘I remember what it’s like to feel I don’t fit in’

The legislation tabled Thursday would prohibit public servants in positions of authority –including teachers, police officers, Crown prosecutors and prison guards– from wearing religious symbols.

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People currently in those jobs would be protected by a grandfather clause.

Idil Issa, vice-president of the Fondation Parole de femmes, which represents women from visible minorities, said Muslim women wearing the hijab will bear the brunt of the law’s impact.

She said she fears they will be stigmatized and subjected to violence in everyday life.

READ MORE: Quebec is proposing a religious symbols ban. Law experts say it violates charter rights

The groups are asking that the bill be withdrawn, but they acknowledge the battle will be difficult because the government has invoked the notwithstanding clause to block possible court challenges.

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