Teacher tells Bill 21 court challenge that her hijab is not source of discord

People hold up signs during a demonstration against Bill 21 in Montreal, Sunday, October 6, 2019. The controversial Quebec secularism law bans some public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Another Muslim teacher has taken the stand at the court challenge to Quebec's secularism law, testifying that her hijab has no impact on her ability to teach.

Bouchera Chelbi testified Tuesday on Day 2 of the legal proceedings against Bill 21, the law that bans public sector workers in positions of authority -- including teachers and judges -- from wearing religious symbols on the job.

Chelbi, who has taught English as a second language in Montreal for 12 years, told the court she has always acted professionally and treated her students equally regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

She is allowed to teach in a hijab because she was hired before the law was adopted in 2019, but she says the law would apply to her if she wanted to change jobs.

The hearings in Montreal combine four separate lawsuits challenging Bill 21 into one trial, which is expected to last up to six weeks before Superior Court Justice Marc-Andre Blanchard.

On Monday, the trial opened with testimony from two Muslim teachers and one Sikh teacher, all of whom described feeling excluded from Quebec society because they choose to wear religious symbols.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2020.

             

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