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Religious symbols ban for teachers and police sparks outcry

Sat 30 Mar 2019
By Alex Williams

A move to ban teachers, judges and police officers from wearing religious symbols to work has prompted fierce opposition in one Canadian province.

The government of Quebec has introduced legislation to ban certain public sector staff in positions of "authority" from displaying items such as a Christian crucifix, Muslim hijab, Jewish kippah or Sikh turban.

Notes accompanying the bill - entitled 'An Act respecting the laicity of the State' - said: "The purpose of this bill is to affirm the laicity of the State and to set out the requirements that follow from it.


"The bill proposes to prohibit certain persons from wearing religious symbols while exercising their functions.

"However, the prohibition does not apply to certain persons holding positions at the time the bill is introduced, subject to the conditions specified by the bill."

Yoavlemmer/Wikimedia Commons


The proposed law is expected to win enough support from politicians to become law.

Provincial governments in Quebec have sought in previous years to clampdown on religious symbols, in order to promote their vision of secular society.


The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said it was joining forces with the National Council of Canadian Muslims to challenge "by every means available" the bill.

Canada's prime minister also expressed his resistance. Justin Trudeau was quoted by Reuters as saying: "It is unthinkable to me that in a free society we would legitimize discrimination against citizens based on their religion".

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