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June 18, 2019 4:18 pm

Leading Canadian Jewish Group Decries Passage of Bill Banning Religious Symbols

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A Star of David. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A leading Canadian Jewish group has decried Monday’s passage by the National Assembly of Quebec of a bill banning civil servants from wearing religious symbols.

Bill 21 did not only include government officials, but also law enforcement officers, teachers and anyone employed by the state. Along with the cross and the hijab, the bill also bans Jewish symbols, such as the kippah.

Brenda Gewurz, chair of the Quebec branch of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said in a statement, “The Jewish community of Quebec is profoundly disappointed with the adoption of Bill 21.”

“As CIJA argued during consultations at the National Assembly, Quebec’s secularity is not facing a threat that justifies the use of extraordinary measures such as invoking the notwithstanding clause,” she added.

“This bill is reckless. It undermines religious freedom and equal access to employment in the public and parapublic sectors,” Gewurz asserted.

“Furthermore,” she noted, “we are troubled by the last-minute amendments tightening the provisions of the law and its implementation, which were not discussed in depth or subject to public consultation.”

“While CIJA and the Jewish community firmly support the religious neutrality of the state, this legislation is incoherent and in too many regards arbitrary,” Gewurz went on to say. “It grants excessive discretionary powers which will allow for erratic and unequal interpretations of the law.”

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