Students, staff at Westmount High stage protest against Bill 21

Over 150 teachers, students, and community members formed what they called a "human chain for human rights" outside Westmount High this morning, protesting the CAQ's controversial Bill 21 on secularism.

"The support means a lot," said Furheen Ahmed, an English teacher who wears a hijab. "It gives me strength in a very difficult time. It tells me I'm not going to be fighting this fight by myself."
With arms locked, the line of protesters stretched from one end of the school to the other. 

Loud chants of "fight for human rights," and signs bearing slogans like 'our values exclude exclusion,' and 'I teach I don't convert,' were met with approving honks of support from passing motorists. 

"There's a community here that believes this is an unjust Bill," Ahmed said. "It just fuels me to stand up and be louder about what I think is wrong about this."

Many of the sign holders expressed their fear of social regression, in terms of tolerance and progressiveness.

"We're Jewish, and it kind of brings me back to history, from which we don't seem to learn," said Arielle Shiller, a teacher at Westmount High, who was joined in the demonstration by her mother and grandmother. All three wore kippahs for the entire morning.

"The Germans also instituted laws forbidding Jews to work and to study," she added.

The protest began at 8am and wrapped up just 45 minutes later with speeches from students, representatives from the English Montreal School board, and Ethics and Religious Culture teacher Robert Green, who spearheaded the demonstration.

Green thanked the school board for voicing its opposition to the Bill, and the crowd gave a roar and a round of applause when he read the names of the west end mayors who have also said they won't abide by a law that bans religious symbols.

Students at Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School will walk out of class in solidarity with their teachers on Friday afternoon, at 1:15pm, and a massive demonstration is planned for this weekend in the downtown core.