Quebec government forced woman from classroom for refusing to remove face covering

Quebec government forced woman from classroom for refusing to remove face covering

By Jonathan Montpetit, The Canadian Press

MONTREAL - After months of balancing a woman’s religious beliefs with her desire to learn French, the Quebec government stepped into her classroom to offer an ultimatum: take off the niqab or drop the course.

The woman opted to keep her Islamic face-covering and has filed a human-rights complaint against the government.

In a province where the government frequently faces accusations of doing too much to accommodate minorities, these actions have prompted a fair bit of praise.

The woman began taking a French course designed for immigrants at a Montreal college in February but she refused to remove her niqab while men were present.

The college was initially willing to accommodate her, but eventually balked as her demands escalated.

According to a report in a Montreal newspaper, she was allowed to give an oral with her back to the class and asked men to move so they wouldn’t face each other.

The breaking point occurred when the woman again refused to take off the niqab, though teachers had stressed it was essential they see her face to correct her enunciation and facial expressions.

In what appears to be a highly unusual move, provincial Immigration Minister Yolande James intervened. Officials from her department, acting with the minister’s knowledge, met with the woman to discuss her options.

“The government has specific pedagogical objectives in its French courses,” said James’s spokesman, Luc Fortin.

“We couldn’t accept that these objectives, or the learning environment in the class, be compromised.”

Several groups, including several teachers’ unions, applauded the government for drawing a line in the sand. So did moderate Muslim groups.

“When people come to Canada we’re not coming to the Islamic Republic of Canada,” said Raheel Raza, a Muslim women’s-rights activist who has argued for a public ban on religious face coverings.

“We are coming here because we want that freedom, we want the separation of church and state.”

But one Muslim group disagreed.

The Canadian Muslim Forum, which claimed the woman was intimidated by other members of her class, said the move amounts to a misreading of the situation.

“In Quebec people have the right to wear what they want,” said spokeswoman Kathy Malas.

“It’s not a question of reasonable accommodation at all. She was complaining about how she was being treated by other males in the class.”

The woman’s name is being withheld for privacy reasons.

The question of whether to accommodate religious or ethnic minorities, and if so how much, has simmered beneath the surface of Quebec politics for several years.

When tensions erupted in 2007 over a series of highly publicized controversies, the government commissioned a $5-million study to quell the matter.

But in recent weeks the so-called reasonable-accommodation debate has vaulted back into the headlines, much to the dismay of those who helped prepare the commission’s report.

Since its release in 2008, they note, the Liberal government has failed to implement most of its recommendations.

In fact, critics have accused the Charest government of altogether avoiding any discussion of awkward, identity-based issues.

“The government is paying the price for its passivity,” said Jocelyn Maclure, a philosophy professor at the Universite de Laval who served as a consultant on the Bouchard-Taylor commission.

The commission’s suggestions included creating a public body to provide training on accommodations, and better informing immigrant women about Quebec cultural norms.

But others warned of the danger of reading too much into what is essentially an isolated case.

“It’s not like behind this woman there are 2,000 other niqab-wearing women who are about to make similar kinds of demands,” said Daniel Weinstock, who, like Maclure, was a consultant to Bouchard-Taylor.

“These cases don’t reflect the reality of what’s going on out there. For every one case like this, which is problematic, there are a hundred that are dealt with in a very reasonable manner.”

ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100302/national/que_school_niqab?printer=1
Copyright © 2010 Canadian Press

Wise decision: Be compliant or Begone!
You will not be missed.

Is any given country governed by its own Laws?

If so, does this apply to the true north, strong and free?

[quote="anglicanmale, post:3, topic:189193"]
Is any given country governed by its own Laws?

If so, does this apply to the true north, strong and free?

[/quote]

Why come to Canada if you don't want to be free?

Make her a deal. Whenever the country she immigrated comes from relaxes its own intolerant religious imposed restrictions on women (i.e. a visiting Canadian woman can walk down the street with a bare head and not be so much as hassled for it), then she can wear her religious head garb in a mixed classroom. Until then be thankful our culture is SO MUCH more accomodating than the one you came from.

[quote="manualman, post:5, topic:189193"]
Make her a deal. Whenever the country she immigrated comes from relaxes its own intolerant religious imposed restrictions on women (i.e. a visiting Canadian woman can walk down the street with a bare head and not be so much as hassled for it), then she can wear her religious head garb in a mixed classroom. Until then be thankful our culture is SO MUCH more accomodating than the one you came from.

[/quote]

You know, to be honest, I do not really care what any of them wear. As the cliche goes, we are a free country. But when what a woman wears makes her start insisting on certain demands as this women did, then it has gone too far. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts she gets ruled in favour of by our far too liberal courts.

[quote="manualman, post:5, topic:189193"]
Make her a deal. Whenever the country she immigrated comes from relaxes its own intolerant religious imposed restrictions on women (i.e. a visiting Canadian woman can walk down the street with a bare head and not be so much as hassled for it), then she can wear her religious head garb in a mixed classroom. Until then be thankful our culture is SO MUCH more accomodating than the one you came from.

[/quote]

well, I'm certainly impressed, and a little surprised we were able to put our Canadian beliefs first. We are on the right track. These accommodations cannot be made. Don't come here if you are afraid of freedom and equality.

you reap what you sow Quebec. Human rights complaints is what Quebec lives on - time to defend your own bigotry after pointing the finger for generations on end

We, as Canadians, welcome immigrants with open arms, but we seem to be expected by immigrants to accept and integrate all of their cultural practices into our way of life. My answer is no. There are some cultural practices that the majority of Canadians are simply uncomfortable with. The face covering garments make us, the host, uncomfortable because we see it as an insult to women by identifying them as the property of another or others. We need to do these immigrants a favour and show them the many muslim women in Canada who keep their muslim faith without sacrificing their independence.

[quote="SBH, post:4, topic:189193"]
Why come to Canada if you don't want to be free?

[/quote]

Why are you insinuating that she isn't? How do you know that she isn't doing it freely on here own or even (GASP) out of religious devotion? We obviously think it's not needed and over the line, but if she thinks it's required I'm not about to tell her that she doesn't have religious freedom.

I think in this case the best option would have been for her to take the classes privately from a women (I'm not an expert on Islam, but I believe this would be allowed). If she couldn't do that then she probably shouldn't be taking classes.

And just for the heck of it I'm also going to blame Quebec's archaic and Charter-violating (they are currently using the notwithstanding clause to get around it) language laws for forcing her to learn french in the first place.

[quote="SBH, post:2, topic:189193"]
Wise decision: Be compliant or Begone!
You will not be missed.

[/quote]

And that's American-style melting pot policies. I'm still glad that Canada is a multicultural society.

I’d just like to make the point here that many in the United States were “uncomfortable” with Catholicism, and wanted to “liberate” those poor benighted Irish Catholics from the “slavery” that their popes and bishops held them in. Its a dangerous road to go down.

I think it is wrong when the government says that women have to take off their face-coverings. I can see saying, no, you are not the teacher and you cannot dictate what the other students do, and not letting her say that the men in the class had to not face each other (what’s up with that?) but forcing her to take off her face covering? I do not think that is right.

wow! I hit a button and the next thing I knew, I’d posted!

Anyway, her standards of modesty are that she wears a headcovering. If a school required my daughter to wear a mini-skirt or a very low-cut blouse, I wouldn’t like that at all.

And I don’t like hearing that people are not permitted to wear items of (usually Christian) religious jewelry at their jobs, etc.

Really, we are going too far. If she won’t take off her headcovering for correction of facial expression (what’s up with that?) and enunciation, then she gets a lower grade, that’s all. The price we have to pay sometimes for upholding our faith.

What needs to be done is do like France is doing and that is out law those darn things. if those people do not like the law then they are free to go to a country that allows that farce! Why should our ways be changed to accommodate their ways that we do not believe in!

There would be no Catholics in New York City or Boston if the United States had adopted this principle.

Uhmmm, this has what to do with the USA???

Well, you know Americans! Not able to appreciate there is a whole world outside of their borders. No matter what the issue, and no matter where it is, Americans will automatically try to turn it into an American issue. Not the most cosmopolitan bulbs in the package, our American friends:-)

[quote="SBH, post:17, topic:189193"]
Well, you know Americans! Not able to appreciate there is a whole world outside of their borders. No matter what the issue, and no matter where it is, Americans will automatically try to turn it into an American issue. Not the most cosmopolitan bulbs in the package, our American friends:-)

[/quote]

:):):):):):):)

These head coverings go against my sense of Canadian culture for sure. It is not too much to expect that people give us the repect of seeing their faces, if they choose to deal with us.
These facial covering are extremely insulting.

I think while the woman has a right to wear her religious clothing, it is a little ridiculous to insist that the class should be segregated because her “religion” tells her she cannot talk to males, or that her mouth should be covered. How is anyone to be expected to be employable in Canada without speaking to the other sex?

But given she enrolled in the class, I think there is a certain onus on her to comply with the educational requirements. It’s like someone who takes welding class who refuses to participate in the normal exercises required to qualify as a welder. If she cannot show the teacher her mouth when pronouncing words she is not fulfilling a educational requirement of the class. No one compelled her to take the class. Sadly she is almost guaranteeing her isolation in Quebec society.

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