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Muslims told not to wear veils when they vote in Quebec

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Muslims in the province of Quebec have been told to remove their veils on next Monday's Quebec general election.

A niqab.

Marcel Blanchet, Quebec's chief returning officer, says he is using special grants to make this law. He also hired two bodyguards after the office had received threatening phone calls and e-mails. Some residents were also promising to wear the niqāb, a veil which covers the whole face except for the eyes, on Monday's vote.

But before he made this decision, Blanchet allowed voters to wear the niqāb on voting day only if they showed their ID and voting card. Blanchet, however, was criticized by all three main Quebec party leaders for that decision.

"Relevant articles to electoral laws were modified to add the following: any person showing up at a polling station must be uncovered to exercise the right to vote," he said.

Sarah Elgazzar, of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, said, in her opinion, that this will discourage Muslim voters to show up on election day.

An eleven-year-old Ontario girl, who played at a soccer tournament in Quebec in February, was removed from the tournament after she refused to take off her headscarf at the request of the referee. A Muslim woman, who worked at a prison in Quebec, last week, was fired from her job after she also refused to take off her veil.

Sources