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Canadian Jewish Groups Announce Initiative Against Bill 60

Bill to outlaw religious symbols in the public sphere subject of ongoing criticism from religious groups; CIJA, CJA push for recall.
By Dalit Halevi, Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 12/22/2013, 8:16 AM

Demonstrators protest against Quebec's proposed Charter of Values
Demonstrators protest against Quebec's proposed Charter of Values
Reuters

Jewish groups in Canada have announced their opposition to Quebec's Bill 60, also known as the "Charter of Values," Shalom Toronto reports.

The bill prevents large religious symbols from being worn or displayed in public - including the Jewish skullcap or kippah - and has raised fears of restrictions on religious freedom.

Federation CJA and CIJA (the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) in Quebec called for the bill's withdrawal Friday, warning that "Bill 60 is a bad solution to a non-existent problem" and that, if passed, it would "violate the fundamental freedom of religion protected by the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." 

On January 14, the consultation phase should begin with the public about the law, and CIJA intends to speak out against approval.

Criticism of the law from religious groups of all faiths has been ongoing. In November, Jewish and Muslim groups alike strongly spoke out against the bill, after it was first tabled at the Canadian Parliament. 

B’nai Brith Canada condemned the initiative hours after it was tabled, saying it would “violate fundamental freedoms enshrined in both the Canadian and Quebec Charters.”

“Legislation of this type discriminates against persons of faith by denying their right to religious expression,” said Me Allan Adel, National Chair of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) echoed their concerns. 

“This is an issue concerning human rights,” NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee stated. “Freedom of religion protects the public's right to worship or not worship a particular religion. In the absence of freedom of religion, the religious neutrality of the state is meaningless.”