Right to secular education trumps teachers' right to religious freedom: parent group defends Bill 21

parents secularism

By Emily Campbell and Adam Kovac, CTV News Montreal 

A group of parents is backing Quebec's religious symbols law in court, arguing their children's right to a secular education trumps teachers' right of religious freedom.

Nadia El Mabrouk of the Mouvement Laique Quebecois said she believes it's especially important for young girls not to have teachers wearing hijabs, saying it transmits the idea that a good Muslim woman is veiled and will “passively influence” kids.

The MLQ has hired a team of lawyers and are fundraising to pay experts to testify on their behalf as a special interest group.

Lawyer Guillaume Rousseau said the group's argument is complementary to that being made by the Quebec government.

“The attorney general is basically about the notwithstanding clause, about the right of the state of Quebec to adopt a law related to the relationship between state and church,” he said. “We are more about the rights of parents regarding the education of their children in keeping with their convictions.”

Bill 21 is being challenged by several groups, including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Human Rights Commission, who have called the law discriminatory and claim it unfairly targets women.

In a statement, the National Council of Canadian Muslims also criticized the law.

“We respect the rights of all Quebecers to voice their perspectives, thoughts and live their best lives,” they wrote. “In our submission, Bill 21 does the opposite of that and in our submissions with the CCLA to the court in October, alongside other parties, we will make that argument quite clear. Now is a time, more than ever, to come together, rather than being driven apart.”

Both sides will present their arguments before the Quebec Superior Court in October.  

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