A prominent activist says Canada’s Quebec Province plan to secularize and remove religious symbols from public places will intensify Islamophobia, Press TV reports. “Unfortunately, when the state goes up and says those things they enforce the negative stereotypes, they show that if the state could discriminate so what do you think the name is on the street? This will increase this kind of Islamophobia,” said Salem Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, in an interview with Press TV. The Quebec government proposed this week a 'charter of values' that bans public employees from wearing religious symbols -- such as kippas, hijabs, turbans and larger-than-average crucifixes -- in the workplace. Advocates said the ban would target government employees, doctors, nurses, teachers and members in the minority community including those belonging to the Sikh, Jewish and Muslim groups.
“What I’m worried about now is if the turban or the hijab is a symbol and they want to remove it; my name is a symbol and his name is a symbol, so are they going to change our names?” Elmenyawi posited.Opponents denounced the plan as discriminatory, saying they do not want their career options to be hampered. On Saturday, thousands of people marched through downtown Montreal against the government and called on Premier of Quebec Province Pauline Marois to put an end to “politics of division.” The leftist Parti Quebecois government said the new charter is necessary to protect equality between men and women. According to a report published in May by Statistics Canada, about 7.2 percent of Canada’s population or about 2.4 million people were either Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist. GMA/SS