The restriction on religious symbols puts men and women on an equal footing, said a Quebec researcher and feminist of Egyptian origin in the lawsuit concerning the Law on the Secularism of the State.
“Secularism as defined by the government does not target any religion or community. It is certain religious beliefs and practices that discriminate against women and not the law […] like the obligation to wear a veil, “argued Yolande Geadah, member of the UQAM Institute for Feminist Research and Studies.
The author of the book Veiled women, fundamentalisms unmasked was called to testify by the organization Pour les droits des femmes du Québec (PDF-Québec), intervening in the trial where the Law on the secularism of the State is contested by several groups.
His expertise was contested by opponents of the law, where he was criticized in particular for his research methods. Judge Marc-André Blanchard decided and recognized her “usefulness” in the debate, to recognize her as an expert on the situation of women in Arab-Muslim culture.
Freedom of conscience
Mme Geadah had been mandated by PDF-Quebec to complete a report on four components.
Whether the restriction of religious symbols in certain functions is discriminatory against women and minorities, its opinion on the need to require religious neutrality of teachers in public schools, the meaning of the Islamic veil and its controversy, then the demand for the free choice to wear the veil.
“Secularism is a fundamental principle that allows the protection of the freedom of conscience of all, including those of members of minority communities in the face of abuses of religious power,” said the one who has lived in Quebec for more than 40 years. .
She recalled that the Quebec Human Rights Commission had been in favor of removing crucifixes from public schools in 1999, considering that it was “contrary to the rights of parents to educate their children in their own conviction”. , in front of a “captive and under-influence audience”.
“By this same logic, a symbol worn by a teacher that children interact with all day long would have an even greater effect on students than a non-speaking crucifix hanging on the wall,” said Mr.me Geadah. It would be inconsistent to exempt minorities from respecting the same rules of religious neutrality that are already applied to the majority of Catholic tradition. “
The researcher’s testimony, however, was cut short due to a ventilation issue in the room, which posed a risk in the context of COVID-19.
► Yolande Geadah returns to the bar Thursday at the Montreal courthouse.