Should Quebec ban all facial coverings, including niqabs?

Screen shot from The National's YouTube video: Quebec debates bill banning face coverings for anyone receiving public service

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The province of Quebec passed the controversial Bill 62 on Wednesday. It passed by a vote of 66 to 51. Bill 62 bans people from covering their faces while working on government jobs and receiving government services. This bill will have the most impact on Muslim women who live in Quebec. That’s because most Muslim women either wear burkas, which cover the whole body and face with a mesh covering over the eyes, or niqabs, which are veils that cover all but a woman’s eyes.

Bill 62 will have an effect on almost all parts of life, including schools, hospitals, and even buses. The government in Quebec says this has nothing to do with religion because it doesn’t specify any particular religious clothing. Rather, this is about improving communication and security. However, due to the possible negative effects this will have on Muslim women, should Quebec have this ban on covering faces?

Those who support the ban feel that it will help empower Muslim women by freeing them from the oppressive clothing demands of their religion. Supporters also feel that the government already controls what can and can’t be worn in public and it’s not fair to make exceptions to the law for one small group of people. Also, many people who support the bill feel that if you come to a country you have to adapt to its laws and culture not the other way around. Finally, it will help with communication, security, and the identification of people.

Those who do not support the ban see this as an attack on Islam itself, and as a violation of Muslim women’s religious freedom. Also, people feel it is not the governments place to regulate clothing. In addition, they see it as being a poorly written law with no clear guidelines to enforce it. For example, if a Muslim woman goes to a hospital and has her face covered should it be up to some random nurse to decide if she should receive care or not? It is unclear who makes these types of decisions in the law and may result in chaos trying to enforce it.

Bill 62 may have been written with the best of intentions, but its passage has caused a great deal of controversy. Many see it as a good thing that will help integrate Muslim women into the community and make things safer. Others see it as an attack on Muslim women’s ability to freely practice their religion.

The National, a CBC News program, posted the video on their YouTube channel. It covers the banning of face coverings according to Bill 62.

The Issue

Was Quebec right to ban people who have their faces covered from receiving government services and being able to work government jobs? Could banning burkas and niqabs be a good step towards integrating Muslim women into the community, or is this ban a blatant attack on Muslim women’s religious rights?

In support of the Quebec ban

People in favor of the ban say that the ban is helping to free Muslim women from religious oppression. They also view the ban as helping to improve security in their province.

In opposition to the Quebec ban

Those opposed to the ban say that this is a bill designed to attack Islam. That this is an attempt to force Muslim women to give up their religious identity against their will.

How do you feel about the Bill 62 ban?

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