On Oct. 18, 2017 the Liberal government in Quebec passed Bill 62, a bill that bans all face-covering in public settings, but some critics claim that it was aimed at religious practices.
Government officials claim that this law is necessary for security reasons; however, Muslim women who wear the niqab – an Islamic veil that covers both the hair and face leaving only the eyes – fear for their religious rights.
Although Bill 62 was only passed in Quebec, a survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for Global News shows that 68 per cent of Canadians that live outside of Quebec believe this bill should be implemented in their provinces.
Marwa Abdulghani, a local Calgarian, says she fears bills like these will eventually affect Alberta: “I can’t believe the bill was passed in Quebec, how long until it reaches Alberta? How long until they ban my hijab too?”
Quebec Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée has defended the bill, saying it is not meant to discriminate and will be applied only in specific cases involving identification and communication.
Another recent survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs shows that 64 per cent of Albertans support the bill, while only 36 per cent opposed it.
Mark Ayyash, an associate professor at Mount Royal University, says Bill 62 is a prime example of Islamophobia.
“Islamophobia is something that was existed for quite some time, so it’s nothing new,” says Ayyash.“It’s not exactly a new phenomenon, but it has gained more attraction and more tension lately. Arguably, there has been an increase in the trends and crimes as well.”
“There has been an increase in hate crimes against Muslims since 9/11, and especially after the election of Donald Drumpf.”
Ayyash also believes that Islamophobia stems from a lack of knowledge.
“A lot of the discussion on Islam in Canadian society is not exactly learned discourse,” he said. “Most people don’t know much about Islam, most people who pretend to be experts on your TV, talking about Islam in North America, don’t tend to know a heck of a lot of it.”
“First the Niqab, what’s next the Hijab?”
– Marwa Abdulghani
And as for Canadians who oppose Islamophobia, Abdulghani says they need to be more informed on the topic and the issues that revolve around it.
“I just hope people educate themselves before they form their own opinions on Islam.If they don’t, then more bills like Bill 62 will be passed,” she says.