We are greatly dismayed at the manner that Bill 62 was pushed through the National Assembly thoughtlessly and without considering the long-term ramifications of such legislation.
Although this bill is passed on the pretense of “security, identification and communication”, it is evident that this bill is as Mitch Garber states: “sexist, hypocritical, dangerous, unnecessary — and completely ridiculous.” This Bill and its like, which are presented to cater to the xenophobes amongst us, are open attacks against freedom of religion and subsequently, the values enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
As our honourable prime minister states: “we are not strong despite our differences, but because of them.” This legislation undermines the differences which make Canada strong, accommodating, and unique.
By treading the path of hate-mongering and playing the “politics of fear” game, this legislation excludes and marginalizes its citizens in general (those who chose to cover their faces in -40C Quebec winters), and in particular, Canadian Muslims, a community that has already been and continues to be marginalized. The mere concept of this Bill is unacceptable. Leaving its application in the hands of anyone is akin to leaving a revolver in a child’s hand – allowing any public servant the choice to deny essential public services to Muslim women, merely on the basis of their interpretation of this inherently intolerant and racist law.
Such rhetoric gives a seemingly coherent voice to those elements who seek to destabilize the existing harmony between the citizens of various background and faiths, and promotes the “us versus them” narrative.
People fear what they do not know. We invite our fellow Canadians and Quebecers to come down, meet, and get to know a Muslim in your community. Come down to a local mosque and meet the community who will be overjoyed to welcome you! See for yourselves that you have nothing to fear.
We advise our brothers and sisters in Islam not to despair in adversity, but rather to hold fast to your faith, and to display the high moral character, the care shown to one’s neighbours, and the approachability of our blessed prophet Muhammad. Yet at the same time, we advise them to remain vigilant.
We laud Mayor Denis Coderre who quickly, unambiguously and decisively denounced this farce of a bill. We request those in authority, including our federal government, provincial government, and municipal government to denounce such rhetoric which, by design, is intended to incite fear and create division amongst a united people. We appeal to you to defend the fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadian Muslims and, by extension, those of all Canadians.