The opposition to religious neutrality law pins hope on campaign

Opponents to the law banning religious symbols being worn by certain public employees launched a campaign Sept. 5, and aren't giving up their fight.

Three months after the bill was passed in the national assembly, groups against the Religious Neutrality law want opponents to wear their opposition in the form of a pin.

"They passed this law to cater to a certain base and to gain votes," said campaign coordinator Ehab Lotayef. "That is really our analysis of the situation."

Lotayelf is part of the group "No to Bill 21" that will wear pins and a religious symbol of their choice to show their disapproval for the law passed by Francois Legault's CAQ government.

"The government should realize, it is not what is on your head, it is what's in your head that matters," said former McGill Sikh chaplain Manjit Singh.

Bill 21 does have a grandfather clause meaning teachers who already wear a religious symbol can keep wearing it.

One teacher, who taught on contract last school year, however, is unsure if the law would apply to a new contract.

"I'm hesitating. I'm unsure. I want to keep wearing my hijab," she said.

Daniel Baril is part of Movement Laique Quebecois, a grassroots group promoting secularisation of public institutions in Quebec, and says those are part of the "no" campaign are misinformed.

Rabbi Michael Whitman from Adath Israel Synagogue says there is no misconception about the what the law has inspired.

"It has given license to incivility. It has given permission to look down upon and cast aspersions on others who dress differently and who look differently," said Whitman.

Organizers hope to distribute 50,000 pins by the end of the month.

"What is forced on us is undemocratic because it depends on the majority being able to pass whatever they want and impose it on the minority and if you don't respect and protect the minorities, democracy falls apart," said Lotayef.