It was disheartening to see the results of a survey today that 73% of people in Quebec support a ban on face-covering in all public places. Of course, the face-covering scarves they have in mind are not the type that most people who live in the snowy climate wear 4 months of the year.
Such scarf wearing passes without notice. Yet scarves worn in warmer weather for religious reasons carry a whole other meaning.
Why is the crucifix in Quebec’s legislative assembly not a violation of this proposed ban on religious symbols in the public sector? A legislator explains:
The choice we made about the crucifix is that of our heritage, of history. There’s still a lot of Quebecers who are still attached to this crucifix, not because they’re particularly Christian or Catholic, but because they see it as a symbol of our people. … Lots of people see a cultural symbol, a symbol of our history, and Quebecers are attached to that history and don’t want to turn our backs on it.
So, religious symbols are ok as long as they are historic? Can practitioners of other religions also explain that they are merely honoring the history of their culture and its symbols?
Many others have discussed the intensely problematic rhetoric of banning Muslim women’s religious clothing on the grounds that it “liberates” them. So for now I’d like to highlight some of the creative resistance to Quebec’s proposed “Charter of Values.”
One video pokes fun at the implications for winter hats and scarves:
Another image points out the irony that riot police wear face-coverings while providing a state service (which is the exact text from the proposed Charter of Values):
Yet another appropriates symbols of Quebec nationalism to promote a message of religious diversity, tolerance, and inclusiveness: