Protests Against Bill 21 Continue as Legault Tells Students to Find Other Jobs

Students Sat Outside the Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion’s Office to Denounce Controversial Secularism Bill

Marianna Mason addresses the crowd of protesters. Photo Esteban Cuevas
Marianna Mason addresses the crowd of protesters. Photo Esteban Cuevas

Faeze Memarbashi came to Quebec from Iran in 2012.

“I expected to see freedom,” she said at Friday’s protest against Bill 21. “Because of this law we are thinking of moving. This is not a place to live.”

Memarbashi attended the demonstration hoping to send a message to Legault: “He’s not the person to choose my child’s job.”

About 50 people sat outside of the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion—the department responsible for the controversial secularism bill. Located on Notre-Dame St. W., the protest was held outside of the office of Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Simon Jolin-Barrette.

Kareem Hammami, an organizer from McGill University, said that they are sending Jolin-Barrette the message that he does not control their future.

Hammami called Bill 21 a “perversion of secularism.”

He said that secularism is meant to be the separation of church and state, but that the government would instead be imposing atheism and forcing people to abandon their religion.

Bill 21, tabled by Jolin-Barrette, would prohibit workers in the public sector like police, judges, and teachers, from wearing religious symbols at work. The government hopes to pass the bill by June 15.

Protesters sat outside the Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion’s office to denounce Bill 21. Photo Esteban Cuevas

Marianna Mason, an organizer of the protest and Dawson student, told the crowd that the government should judge workers based on competence rather than what they choose to wear.

“There are other jobs available,” Legault said last week.

“I think it’s important for teachers, police officers, prison guards, judges […] that these people and those planning to find work in these sectors understand that to occupy these functions in Quebec, they cannot wear religious symbols.”

“Would you change your career you’ve worked so hard for just because of this law?” Asked one organizer, Emily Bressi to the crowd. Protesters, in unison, answered “No!”

* “ Thousands Denounce Secularism Bill as Xenophobic

Damian Kube, a first-year Dawson student, said his kippah makes him think twice about studying law at McGill.

“If I wanted to become state attorney, or judge, I would be prevented from doing so,” he said. The bill would dash his dreams of helping people through the judicial system, he added.

Cultural representation in the public sector, said Mason, “exposes the entire population to the beauty of diversity.”

“Our main objective is to advocate for human rights and freedom of expression,” she continued.

She thinks inclusivity and multiculturalism is an important aspect of Quebec’s identity, particularly in Montreal.

One protester, Angela Kalyta, asked the crowd, “Is this really the vision we want for Quebec?”

With files from Erika Morris