A group of Montrealers is launching a campaign against the province’s contentious religious neutrality law, calling on all Quebecers to protest against what it describes as a “discriminatory” piece of legislation.
“We want people to visibly show they are against the law,” said campaign co-ordinator Ehab Lotayef. “I am Muslim but I will choose to wear a Jewish kippah.”
The Non à la loi 21 campaign, which was launched on Thursday, is distributing buttons against the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s Bill 21. As part of the plan, organizers want participants to wear the buttons and a religious symbol in protest of the law.
Bill 21 prohibits civil servants in positions of authority — including teachers, police officers and judges — from wearing religious symbols at work. While it has been widely criticized, the Legault government maintains it has support from the majority of Quebecers.
Those behind the campaign disagree. They argue citizens’ fundamental rights are being crippled by the province’s secularism law, saying it limits employment opportunities for those who wear religious symbols.
Michael Whitman, a rabbi in Hampstead and professor at McGill University, says the law is immoral and he doesn’t like the new reality he sees for future generations. Aside from infringing on freedom of religion, he worries it will give people the license to be mean to those who wear religious symbols.
“This law must be fought in every moral and legal method available,” he said.
Lotayef likened the campaign to stone drops in a lake, saying “the ripples will propagate outwards” and reach others who are in doubt and change their minds.
The group hopes to have 50,000 of its pins in distribution by the end of September.
Aside from the buttons, there was will also be a public day of action across the province on Oct. 6.
WATCH (Aug. 29, 2019): School boards reluctantly decide to implement Bill 21
— With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines