January 13th, 2022


This statement is sent on behalf of the McGill Coalition Against Bill 21.

To the McGill Community,

In December 2021, Fatemah Anvari, a third grade teacher was removed from her classroom in Chelsea, Quebec for wearing a hijab. Her removal was a repercussion of Law 21. 

Law 21 is a provincial legislation the legalizes discrimination by barring certain employees that work in the public sector from wearing religious symbols (including the hijab, kippah and turban). It has been in practice since June 2019 and targets religious and cultural minorities in Quebec, and has had a particular impact on Muslim women. This law affects current public sector employees and those that wish to work in these sectors who are told to choose between their faith and their profession. Law 21 claims to provide a solution to a problem that does not exist.

When Quebec leaders were asked to justify the removal of Ms. Anvari, the response was “that’s the law”. We respond that this law has no place in a society that champions freedom, tolerance and pluralism. The Quebec government should not be allowed to dictate what individuals can and cannot wear. Moreover, the Quebec government is invoking the notwithstanding clause to justify possible infringements on fundamental freedoms which has been largely criticized. UN Human Rights observers have warned Quebec about the law, and the authors of the Bouchard-Taylor report on Reasonable Accommodations have also condemned the law

Under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, every person is guaranteed fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion and expression, and the safeguard of human dignity and honor (similar provisions also exist under the Canadian Charter). To be clear, this Law is not about laicité or secularism. It is based on an unsubstantiated fear that those in positions of authority will impose their religion on those they serve. It implies a lack of confidence in those that choose to wear religious symbols and work in these positions and creates a system of second class citizenry. This law is discriminatory and is antithetical to a free and diverse society. 

Ms. Anvari is not the first individual targeted and affected by Law 21, and she will not be the last. The McGill Coalition Against Bill 21 stands with Ms. Anvari, and strongly condemns Law 21. 

What you can do: 

  1. Educate yourself and those around you on Bill 21
  2. Like our Facebook page
  3. Sign the National Council of Canadian Muslims’ (NCCM) petition calling on the Prime Minister to intervene in the legal challenge. 
  4. Contact us to receive a No Law 21 button 

Check out our page for resources

Sent on behalf of the McGill Coalition Against Bill 21 and endorsed by the SSMU Executive Committee.

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