New Quebec Proposal to Restrict Religion is a Farce
by Oren Safdie
The Premier of Quebec, Pauline Marois, recently put forward a charter of values plan that she intends to bring to the Parliament floor for a vote. The initiative will make it illegal for any provincial employee to wear a Hijab, kipa, etc… on the job. Furthermore, large crucifixes will not be tolerated, but smaller religious symbols will.
The absurdity lies in how the execution of such a law might be enforced – most likely in the same way the Quebec Government presently enforces its language laws, penalizing Quebec merchants and businesses if they dare make an English sign, or a sign in any other language, larger than the French one. Brightness and color count too, although for some reason, all Chinese restaurants seem to have been let off the hook – perhaps the calligraphy is mistaken for artwork?
In addition to the Language Police (who often are armed on the Streets of Montreal with nothing more than a ruler, a pen, and paper to dole out fines) – it is now conceivable that there will be some kind of Religion Police, who will police Quebec teachers and daycare workers to make sure that no Jesus figure or Magen David is any bigger than the law permits. (Note to the government: Perhaps you can combine these two police forces into one and save money!)
Immediately, the initiative raises numerous technical issues that will have to be resolved. For instance, what if a large Star of David is imbedded in a plush mound of male chest hair and is only intermittently visible? On a related note, how will the Jewish “H’ai” symbol be classified? This can potentially violate both the religious symbol law and the language law if it is not accompanied with a French translation: “La Vie.”
These examples are just the tip of what kinds of problems the government might run up against in trying to enforce this law. What do they intend to do on Ash Wednesday? Can’t get much more symbolic than having a Catholic nurse staring down at you with a big grey cross painted on her forehead as she’s about to give you an injection. And what about large crucifixes tattooed on upper chests or yarmulkes on religious men who are fortunate enough to be bald. Will they face prosecution?
Also, will those black fedoras that the Jewish Orthodox men wear be considered a religious symbol or a fashion statement?
And taking this one step further, will it be acceptable for a Jew to cover his head with a Turban, or a Hindu to wear a Kafia? It’s possible that this law can start a whole new trend that will blur the lines of religion, and bring all of mankind closer together. Perhaps that is Madame Marois’ real intention here – to make Quebec a truly integrated multi-cultural society of French Canadian secularists.
(Incidentally, the only people who will be exempt from these directives are elected officials.)