Iranian official calls for Canada’s anti-hijab law to be overturned in defense of Muslim teacher

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A senior Iranian rights official has called on the Canadian government to repeal a discriminatory law that removed a citizen from her teaching job for wearing the hijab in class in the eastern province of Quebec.

Fatemeh Anvari, a third-grade Canadian teacher in the city of Chelsea, was told earlier this month that she would no longer be allowed to lead her classes because wearing a headscarf contravened Bill 21, a law passed in 2019.

The rejection prompted widespread condemnation of the controversial law in Quebec, with critics pointing out that the law unfairly targets ethnic minorities under the guise of secularism.

“Fatemeh Anvari, a Grade 3 teacher at Chelsea Elementary School in Quebec, was told she could no longer continue her role because her hijab violated Quebec’s Bill 21. Parents, students and other community members gathered to protest Anvari’s withdrawal and to support her,” Kazem Gharibabadi, secretary general of Iran’s Human Rights Office, said in a statement on Thursday. a tweet.

“We call on the Canadian federal government to intervene in this case and to support Quebecers who are fighting this discriminatory law by repealing it,” he added.

The 2019 bill prohibits public servants in Canada, including police officers, lawyers, judges and teachers, from publicly wearing religious symbols while performing their duties.

The law affects items such as turbans, yarmulkes, hijabs and crosses, but has an outsized impact mainly on Muslim women in Eastern Province, where 74.5% of teachers are women.

“It’s not about my clothes. It’s a bigger issue…I don’t want it to be personal because it won’t do anyone any good,” Anvari told CTV News in Canada. “I want it to be something in which we all think about how big decisions affect other lives.”

Anvari’s withdrawal from her job prompted protests at her school, where students and staff displayed green ribbons and posters in support of her.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far refused to intervene in the case, saying he did not want to start a fight between Quebec and the federal government.

The province’s English-language schools fought the law and recently lost a court challenge preventing the bill from taking 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 spreading Islamophobia.

Canadian Muslims have repeatedly held rallies across the country to urge Ottawa to tackle the problem of Islamophobia amid growing attacks on Muslims and Islamic places of worship over the years.

Canada is already reeling from outrageous revelations of 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 school system were victims of abuse, rape and malnutrition.

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