Muslim women in Quebec facing more attacks since charter proposal: group
A Quebec woman’s coalition says there has been an increase in the number of reported attacks against veiled Muslim women since the introduction of the province's proposed Charter of Quebec Values.
The plan, if passed, would restrict public employees from donning overt religious articles such as hijabs, niqabs, turbans and kippas in the workplace.
Members of the Regroupement des centres de femmes du Quebec say they are concerned after an increase in the number of reported physical and verbal attacks against veiled Muslim women.
"Women's centers are open to all women: they welcome women from all backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, political ideologies, all income," said the group's president, Angela Laroche, in a statement. “But since the early debates of the proposed charter, women's safety is compromised."
"They get condescending looks, insults, (and) they get spat on on the streets,” Valerie Letourneau, the group’s spokesperson, told CTV Montreal. “It’s causing fear. We cannot live with this intolerance."
Expected to be tabled later this fall by the minority Parti Quebecois government, the contentious values charter has opened up an emotional and divisive debate in Quebec.
On Tuesday, a topless protest linked to the charter erupted inside the Quebec legislature during the daily question period. While Quebec Premier Pauline Marois was answering a question, a group of protestors began disrobing and shouting slogans directed against the crucifix in the lower chamber.
"Crucifix, get the hell out of here," the protestors chanted.
Security guards later removed the protestors, warning them they could be charged with disturbing the peace and gross indecency.
Recent polls suggest the plan has considerable support in Quebec, but there has also been vocal opposition against it.
Former Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau said in a column earlier this week that he thinks the charter goes too far. A long-time backer of Quebec’s sovereignty movement, Parizeau wrote in the Journal de Montreal that the province is already a secular society.
"Most of the classical colleges were purchased and turned into CEGEPs while universities gave up their pontifical charger…. The prayer in the National Assembly was replaced with a 'moment' of reflection."
Critics of the proposed charter say the recent surge in reported violence against veiled Muslim women is a result of the ongoing debate.
"I think it’s a direct consequence to this proposal of charter of values," said Maryse Gaudreault, the Liberal critic for the status of women.
"I think we should all be against this kind of discrimination."
With files from CTV Montreal