CAIRO - In a new row over religious minorities' freedom in Quebec, a major-public sector union has declared its support for religious symbols in workplaces, denouncing a new government charter that is expected to advocate state secularism and ban of religious symbols, including hijab.
We won't go on a witch hunt to see who wears a hijab, kippa or cross. We will defend the right of our members to work, Sylvain Mallette, president of the FÃ©dÃ©ration autonome de l'enseignement (the independent Federation of Teachers), told the Globe And Mail.
Preventing someone from wearing a hijab or kippa isn't a way to ensure the secular nature of the state and its institutions.
For us, respecting secularism has nothing to do with whether you wear religious symbols or accessories.
Mallette's comments followed media leaks about a new draft of a charter by the Parti QuÃ©bÃ©cois government.
Expected to be released next week, the Charter of Quebec Values suggests protecting state secularism by prohibiting public-sector workers from wearing religious symbols in workplaces such as schools, hospitals and daycares.
The union warned to go to court if a teacher gets sacked due to his religious garb.
Deemed as the second largest public-sector union in Quebec, the FÃ©dÃ©ration autonome de l'enseignement represents around 32,000 teachers in the French-language school system in Montreal, around one third of the district teachers.
Other major Public-sector unions in Quebec didn't release comments on the chart, preferring to wait for the governmental proposals.
However, the Syndicat de la fonction publique du QuÃ©bec, which represents provincial civil servants, has already expressed support for a ban on religious headgear for state employees.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.
In a recent poll, most for the Quebeckers were found not concerned about religious accommodations.
Though it has the second largest Muslim population in Canada, the east-central province of Quebec is one of the most Islamophobic provinces in the country, where Muslims are facing different kinds of discrimination and racism.
Joining debates about the controversial charter, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has criticized Quebec's proposed secular charter.
The diversity, our ethnicity is very important to our province. We are strong because we have a diverse population and for me, Ontario must be inclusive, Wayne, speaking in French, told the Globe & Mail.
Our schools must be inclusive. And our politics must be inclusive of all of our diversity.
It is very important to me that Ontario is a diverse province - that our laws and our policies reflect that diversity, she said.
I believe it is fundamentally one of our strengths, and as we talk about our place, Ontario's place, in the global economy, our diversity is part of that.
Premier of British Columbia Christy Clark has also joined Quebec's charter controversy.
We welcome diversity, Clark told reporters on Wednesday.
We think that diversity from all over the globe, whoever you are, wherever you're from, makes us richer and better.
Clark said British Columbia's goal to lead among provincial economies hinges on believing in and embracing diversity.
If that's different from what they're doing in Quebec, I can say this about British Columbia: We are not about going backward, she said.
Diversity is a strength.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north American country.
A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net