According to Muslim women who wear Islamic supremacist/misogynist headgear, there has been a sharp increase in harassment directed at Muslim women in Quebec since the province tabled draft legislation to ban religious symbols in parts of the civil service, claims a women’s advocacy group.
CBC Justice Femme, a Montreal organization that offers legal and psychological support to women, said it received more than 40 calls from women who wear the hijab after Bill 21 was tabled in late March. The women reported a wide range of incidents, from aggressive comments to physical violence.
On Tuesday, the organization intends to submit a summary of its findings to the elected officials studying the bill. Among other things, the summary will detail:
- Four recent cases of physical assault in public, including two attempts to rip off the hijab and one of a woman being spat at.
- Six cases of harassment and intimidation at work.
- More than a dozen cases of cyber-bullying, prompting several women to remove profile photos featuring their hijab.
(What they don’t seem to realize is that hiding the fact that they are Muslims would make them safer and less unwelcome everywhere)
The legislative hearings into Bill 21 are scheduled to resume Tuesday in Quebec City. At last week’s hearings, multiple critics of the bill testified it could heighten Islamophobia or other forms of hatred.
Hanadi Saad, president of Justice Femme, detailed her group’s findings Monday at an event in Montreal that featured several groups that were denied invitations to take part in the National Assembly hearings. The event was organized by the Coalition Inclusion Québec, an umbrella organization that represents several faith and community groups opposed to the so-called secularism bill.
In her presentation, Saad also reported two women were denied jobs at daycare education centres when their prospective employers told them they would have to remove their hijab while at work.
If the bill passes, it would apply to public teachers, police officers and government lawyers, but not to daycare workers.
Saad said her organization investigates all the cases reported, to ensure the complaints are well-founded and provide more tailored support to victims. All the incidents in the Justice Femme report took place in the greater Montreal area.
Last week, the government was twice forced to distance itself from controversial statement sabout Islam that supporters of the bill made at the hearings. Retired senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, who was among those invited by the government to speak in support of the bill, told the commission: “The veil is a detail. What goes with it is female genital mutilation[and] forced marriage at 14 and 15 years of age.”