Aspiring Teacher May Leave Quebec If Hijab Ban Imposed

 Fatima Ahmad has been dreaming about becoming a teacher since she was a little girl.

At age six, she wrote down the aspiration in her diary, along with two other options: doctor and artist. Ultimately, she chose teaching.

MONTREAL – Fatima Ahmad is studying to become a teacher at McGill University, Canada.

However, this dream for the Muslim woman wearing Niqab might be dashed if the new Coalition Avenir Québec government (CAQ) goes ahead with its plan to bar religious symbols.

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The new Quebec poll suggests that Quebecers support a ban on “religious symbols for civil servants in positions of authority”, CBC reported on November 27.

“I love kids, and it was just natural. At age six, I wrote down the aspiration in my diary, along with two other options: doctor and artist. Ultimately, I chose teaching,” Ahmad recalled her dream.

The Bengali student is only a few years away from making her dream a reality. But it may need to happen outside Quebec if the ban is imposed, although she removes her face covering when teaching elementary school children.

The new government, which won a majority in October election, is planning to bar civil servants in positions of authority, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols such as the kippa or hijab.

Ahmad’s niqab is a Muslim garment that covers her hair and face although it is not obligatory like ordinary Hijab in Islamic Shari`ah.

Premier François Legault’s government isn’t expected to table legislation on religious symbols until next year, after a round of consultations. However, an opinion poll released yesterday, ahead of the legislative session that starts today, is likely to give fuel to the CAQ’s plan.

The CROP poll, taken between November 14 and 19, estimated that 72% of Quebecers supported banning visible religious symbols for judges, 71% supported banning them for prosecutors and police officers and 65% backed extending the ban to public-school teachers.

“Living in Quebec and Canada I thought that most people were open, were for freedom of choice and freedom of religion,” said Ahmad who was born in Montreal.

She concedes, though, that she may not be able to teach in her home province. “I think it would be very difficult to do so if this bill is passed,” she said.

“It would limit me to private Muslim schools. I will most likely have to go out of Quebec to find work.”