Quebec Sikhs Oppose Proposed Charter

Quebec’s minority Parti Quebecois dropped a bombshell today when it released details about the controversial secularism charter.

If this charter is passed, it will ban public employees from wearing turbans, kippas, hijabs and visible crucifixes.

Bernard Drainville, the minister in charge of the charter, announced at the national assembly that, if adopted by the legislature, public servants will be banned from wearing of religious symbols. “If the state is neutral, those working for the state should be equally neutral in their image,” the minister said.

The proposed plan will apply to judges, police, prosecutors, public day care workers, teachers, school employees, hospital workers and municipal personnel.

Spotlight-Sikhs-Oppose-Proposed-Charter-1Canada’s multicultural minister Jason Kenney said the federal government will review any law Quebec passes that bans public servants from wearing religious symbols while on the job.

The federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and leader of the opposition Thomas Mulcair of the New Democratic Party also condemned the Quebec charter.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois has been under fire since details about the charter were leaked in August. However, an online survey is suggesting public support is growing for the charter.

Members of the Sikh community are furious about the charter.

Chattar Singh Saini, a professional technologist of applied sciences, in a letter to the Montreal Gazette, said he has contributed to the Quebec society with his turban on. The writer said he is a Canadian and he will fight with other targeted groups – with his turban on – in the “face of this abuse of legislative power.”

“I have paid every due to this province of Canada like a good citizen,” Saini said. He reminded readers Sikhs fought in the wars with their turbans for democracy and freedom. A physician from the Sikh community said he is “hurt” by Quebec’s proposal to ban religious symbols.

Spotlight-Sikhs-Oppose-Proposed-Charter-2Dr. Sanjeet Singh Saluja, who wears a turban as part of his faith, said Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and other right thinking people will not seat idle to fight the charter. “Even though I love my practice here in Quebec, my faith is something that’s important to me,” he is quoted saying. Saluja said he does not believe such a policy would ever pass in Quebec because he has never known it to be a closed-minded place. “I have never had a Quebecer come up to me and tell me that I don’t belong here,” he said. “Personally, I am hurt. I am very hurt.” He hinted he will leave Quebec if this charter passes.

Many members of the Jewish,  Muslim and Catholic community have also spoken out against the charter.

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About Sultan Jessa

Born and educated in his native Tanzania and Europe, Sultan Jessa lives in Montreal. The award-winning journalist received Canada’s highest and most prestigious ‘Order of Canada’ in 2005 for more than three decades of community work. He has also been honored by the Catholic, the Jewish and also the Sikh community, who presented him with a Saropa.

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