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School board 'should not have hired' Quebec teacher who lost job for wearing hijab: premier


Quebec’s premier says the Western Quebec School Board should not have hired a teacher who was removed from the classroom earlier this week for wearing a hijab.

“The school board should not have hired this person in the first place as a teacher, given Bill 21,” Premier François Legault said Friday at an end-of-session press conference at the National Assembly.

Parents and students have rallied behind Fatemeh Anvari, a Grade 3 teacher in the Western Quebec School Board, who was told she could no longer teach her students because she was violating Quebec’s secularism law.

Bill 21 bans people in positions of authority, including teachers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols, such as hijabs, kippas and turbans, in the course of their work.

“And I want to remind everybody that Bill 21 became a law in June 2019. It was voted democratically by the National Assembly. I think it’s a reasonable law, a balanced law,” Legault said.

He told reporters the law only applies at work and that, “at home, in the street they can do what they want. Quebec has made the choice of secularism and I think it must be respected.”

Only workers hired before March 2019 are allowed to wear religious symbols at work under the law. In Anvari’s case, she started substitute teaching last spring and signed a new contract to teach in October, which means she didn’t fall under Bill 21’s grandfather clause.

Although English Quebec school boards won an appeal against the law, they must still abide by it for now, since the province challenged the court’s decision and the law will stay in effect until that appeal is heard.

Because of that, English boards requested a temporary stay of the law pending the appeal, but in November a judge refused their request. Top Stories

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