Many thanks to MissPiggy for translating this article from the Quebec daily Le Devoir:
Examples of proselytizing at the CSDM
Law on the secularity of the state: Veiled educators have become proselytizers. Two Montreal mothers say their daughters have been pressured to adopt Muslim practices.
Proponents of the State Secularism Act will now be able to fight back against their opponents accusing them of fighting an imaginary enemy: two Montreal mothers claim that veiled educators pressured their daughters to adopt Muslim practices. Proof, she says, that the hijab is not always neutral and sometimes leads to proselytizing.
As part of the legal challenge to Bill 21, the feminist group For Women’s Rights of Quebec (PDF Quebec) was allowed to intervene and present witnesses. PDF therefore presented the case of Ines Hadj Kacem and Ferroudja Si Hadj Mohand, two women who emigrated to Canada who say they want to raise their daughters in total gender equality. However, they believe that the Montreal public school has failed in this regard.
I left Tunisia so that my daughter could grow up in an environment respectful of her choices and decisions
— Hadj Kacem
In a sworn statement, Ms. Hadj Kacem recounted that her daughter who attended the daycare at her primary school in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve had been pressured by veiled educators to thank Allah at the end of the meals and to stop using the school caterer because the food served is not halal or contains pork. Ms. Hadj Kacem said she removed her daughter from the daycare after filing several complaints with management.
Freedom of choice
“I left Tunisia so that my daughter could grow up in an environment that respects her choices and decisions,” the affidavit says. “But while attending the public school in my neighbourhood my daughter is under pressure to behave like a “good Muslim”. […] I have the strong impression that wearing a religious symbol by people in positions of authority influences my daughter’s behaviour and makes her question her choices and those of her mother. ”
Ms. Hadj Kacem recounts that her daughter is also under pressure from other schoolchildren because she is not wearing the veil. All this, notes the Montreal mother, “is detrimental to what we come to Quebec to look for, namely the equality between women and men.”
For her part, Ferroudja Si Hadj Mohand recounts that an educator wearing the hijab allegedly stopped a friend of her 9-year-old daughter because she was removing and putting her Islamic veil back in the courtyard of the Montreal North school they attend. The educator reportedly told her that once she was put on, the veil should no longer be removed. Then, turning to Mrs. Hadj Mohand’s daughter, she allegedly asked her when she would start wearing it. The girl felt “embarrassed” and forced to say “Maybe in high school.”