Iran rights chief calls on Canada to annul anti-hijab law

December 17, 2021 - 21:39

TEHRAN - Iranian human rights chief on Thursday called on Canada to revoke a discriminatory law banning a citizen from her teaching career for wearing a hijab in classroom in the eastern province of Quebec.

Fatemeh Anvari, a third-grade Canadian teacher in the town of Chelsea, was told earlier this month that she would no longer be allowed to run her classes since wearing headscarves was in contravention of Bill 21, a law passed in 2019, Press TV reported on Thursday.

The dismissal sparked widespread condemnation of the controversial law in Quebec, with critics stressing that the law unfairly targets ethnic minorities under the pretext of secularism.

“Fatemeh Anvari, a Grade 3 teacher at Chelsea Elementary School, Quebec, was told she could no longer continue in her role because her hijab ran afoul of Que’s Bill 21.

Parents, students and other community members rallied to protest against Anvari's removal and to support her,” tweeted Kazem Gharibabadi, secretary-general of Iran's Human Rights Office.

“We call on the Canadian federal government to intervene in the case and support those Quebecers that are fighting this discriminatory law through its annulment,” he added.

The 2019 bill has barred public servants in Canada, including police officers, lawyers, judges and teachers, from publicly wearing religious symbols while carrying out their work.

The law affects such items as turbans, kippahs, hijabs and crosses, but has an outsized impact mainly on Muslim women in the eastern province, where 74.5% of teachers are female.

“This is not about my article of clothing. This is a bigger issue … I don’t want this to be a personal thing because that won’t do any good to anyone,” Anvari told Canada’s CTV News. “I want this to be something in which we all think about how big decisions affect other lives.”

Dismissing Anvari has prompted protests at her school, where students and staff put up green ribbons and posters in support of her.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far refused to intervene in the case, claiming that he does not want to create a fight between Quebec and the federal government.

English-language schools in the province have fought the law and recently lost a court challenge preventing the bill from going into effect.

The Canadian government has a long history of violating the rights of ethnic and religious minorities, following in the footsteps of Europeans in racial discrimination and dissemination of Islamophobia.

Canadian Muslims have on numerous occasions held gatherings across the country to press Ottawa to address the issue of Islamophobia amid surging attacks against Muslims and Islamic places of worship over the years.

Canada is already reeling from scandalous revelations about the discovery of thousands of unmarked graves, many believed to be of indigenous children, at the sites of former Church-run residential schools in the country.

Canada’s residential school system forcibly separated more than 150,000 First Nations children from their families between 1831 and 1996. Many of the children separated from their homes by the church’s school system were subjected to abuse, rape, and malnutrition.

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