Protesters condemn Bill 21 at downtown rally

Around a thousand demonstrators gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin in protest of the CAQ government's proposed ban on religious symbols.

Several community leaders and government officials spoke at the Sunday afternoon rally.

Then protesters marched through-out the streets of downtown Montreal.

Members of the Canadian Muslim Alliance, Montreal's board of Rabbis, the United Church of Canada, the Catholic and Anglican dioceses, the World Sikh Organization of Canada, and several others attended the event.

If adopted, Bill 21 would restrict government employees in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols while at work.  

Among other jobs, it would affect teachers, police officers, judges, and Crown prosecutors.

Anaise was among those demonstrating. She said Bill 21 is racist and Quebec Premier Francois Legault needs to rethink the proposed law.

"I know he is saying it's not [racist], but it is racism. It's pure Islamophobia.

Charles Taylor is a philosopher who co-authored a 2008 report on reasonable accommodations for minorities in Quebec.

"We basically didn't believe that secularism involves denying people's rights," he said at the rally. "This bill is trying to translate secularism into saying to certain people 'You can't have certain jobs or careers,' and that's absolutely unacceptable."

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The Canadian Muslim Alliance organized the event.

Their Facebook event page reads, "All Quebecers of conscience are encouraged to attend and stand in solidarity with those who will be directly affected by Bill 21, if it's implemented."

"There is no white knight who will save us. To quote Alice Walker, we are the ones we have been waiting for," said a speaker at the rally.