A Muslim teacher employed at an elementary school in Chelsea, Quebec, was removed from her teaching position because she wears a hijab and Muslim groups are expressing frustration at the federal government and politicians for their inaction.
“This is disturbing, and a form of second-class citizenship in Quebec. We’ve been fighting Bill 21 in court with the CCLA since the day after it was passed,” said the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) in a social media post.
“Enough is enough. We need to see immediate action from the federal government.”
Parents from the Chelsea Elementary School found out the teacher was being removed last week, when they received a letter about it. The parents and students later learned it was due to the teacher’s hijab and they have been sending messages of support.
Bill 21 was passed in June 2019 and bans the wearing of religious symbols such as hijabs, kippas and turbans by teachers and civil servants in positions of authority.
After initially working as a substitute teacher with the Western Quebec School Board, the teacher, Fatemeh Anvari, says she was asked to apply for a more permanent position teaching a Grade 3 class at Chelsea Elementary School.
Anvari began that job earlier this fall, but after just one month she says the school principal told her she had to move to a position outside the classroom because she wears a hijab.
Wayne Daly, the interim chair of the Western Quebec School Board, confirmed the teacher was removed once the human resources department became aware of the situation.
Daly said the Board told the Quebec government that it was against it “from a human rights perspective” and because it was “unethical,” but the board has no choice because it’s the law.
The Quebec-based Muslim advocacy group, Canadian Muslim Forum, condemned the reassignment of the teacher and says the action proves the Quebec government is taking away the rights of women in the province.
“Canadian Muslim Forum/Forum Musulman Canadien (FMC-CMF) condemns teacher’s removal from Quebec school because of wearing hijab, as per media reports.This incident proves again that Quebec women are loosing their rights and are the victims of the unfair applications of law 21.”
In a series of tweets, Mustafa Farooq, Chief Executive Officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), expressed frustration at political leaders who condemn bill 21 but take no action.
“Commit to getting involved in the battle to end Bill 21 - including intervening in the @nccm and CCLA legal challenge before the QCCA,” he wrote.
“The feds are entirely entitled to intervene in court about this - amongst other powers. Don’t let politicians tell you that their hands are tied, because it’s not true. In other words, to those speaking out, thanks for joining up, albeit 2 years too late.”
“Take action. Now.”
“It’s time for the PM @JustinTrudeau to stop attacking reporters and interlocutors who ask tough questions about Bill 21 (like Schachi Kurl) and instead get involved in the fight of our time. Standing up against unjust laws has never been easy. But it must be done.”