Niqab ban sparks anger, confusion over enforcement

admin   •   October 24, 2017   •   4205

Quebec’s ban on face coverings for people giving or receiving provincial government services has received a mixed response.

Quebec’s Bill 62 states that the law defends modern secular traditions while its detractors say it encourages discrimination against Muslim women in the mainly French-speaking Canadian province.

The law, which was passed last week, has sparked a debate on how the new ruling would be implemented across the province.

While the law does not specify which face coverings are prohibited, the debate has largely focused on the niqab worn by some Muslim women, which covers everything but the eyes.

People affected by the law would include public-sector employees such as teachers, police officers, hospital and daycare workers.

“Throughout the whole bus ride, I have to uncover my face? What crime did I commit that I have my fundamental rights violated,” said Afifa Suleman, a resident who wears niqab.

The law allows for exemptions under certain circumstances, although it did not provide details. Regulations setting out how the new law will be enforced are yet to come.

“Even if you believe that the niqab is oppressive in some way. If that really is a problem cutting them out of public transit and access education and medical care is simply not the solution,” said Sarah Brand, a Bill 62 protester.

“It’s important to send a strong message that diversity. We can have a great principle, but we don’t want to perceive as we are stigmatizing anybody,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

Like France, which passed a ban on veils, crosses and other religious symbols in schools in 2004. Quebec has struggled to reconcile its secular identity with a growing Muslim population, many of them North African emigrants. — Reuters

May 25 declared a regular holiday for Eid’l Fitr

Marje Pelayo   •   May 20, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has declared May 25 a regular holiday in observance of Eid‘l Fitr, the end of the Muslim community’s fasting month of Ramadan.

The declaration was based on the recommendation of the  National Commission of Muslim Filipinos.

Proclamation Number 944, likewise, reminded the public of the quarantine regulations such as wearing of face masks and physical distancing to be observed on the duration of the holiday due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Under government order, mass gatherings such as religious events are still restricted in different parts of the Philippines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

DOH asks public not to discriminate vs COVID-19 patients

Marje Pelayo   •   April 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday (April 5) asked the public not to mistreat or discriminate against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients.

Such behavior would definitely have an impact on the country’s efforts in fighting the disease.

“Nalulungkot po kami kapag nakakarinig ng mga kwento ng ating mga positive cases, kasama na rin ang ating exposed healthcare workers, na nakakaranas ng diskriminasyon at stigma, [It saddens us to hear stories of positive cases including exposed healthcare workers who experienced discrimination and stigma],” DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at a briefing on Sunday.

“Gusto ko lamang pong sabihin sa lahat,  pakiusap (na) huwag mamahiya ng mga taong may COVID-19, [I ask everybody to please, do not shame patients with COVID-19],” she added.

The official said the ‘stigma’ against COVID-19 positive patients may lead to other positive patients to conceal their condition which consequently could compromise the national government’s efforts to address their condition.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) has urged the local governments to formulate measures that would penalize any act of discrimination and harassment against frontliners and COVID-19 positive patients.

IATF-EID spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles warned that acts of discrimination such as coercion, slander and physical injuries shall be dealt with under the law as well as dishonoring of contractual obligations like contracts of lease or employment of COVID-19 patients.

U.N. asks world leaders to fight virus-spawned discrimination

UNTV News   •   February 27, 2020

Michelle Bachelet

United Nations human rights guardian Michelle Bachelet urged the global community on Thursday (February 27) to show solidarity with people of ethnic Asian origin subject to discrimination amid an outbreak of a novel coronavirus that started in China.

“The coronavirus epidemic has set off a disturbing wave of prejudice against people of Chinese and East Asian ethnicity, and I call on member states to do their utmost to combat this and other forms of discrimination,” she said at a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Governments are ramping up measures to battle a looming global pandemic of the coronavirus as the number of infections outside China for the first time surpassed those appearing inside the country.

“I extend my deepest respect to the medical teams around the world who are tackling the coronavirus Covid-19, which constitutes a serious threat to the rights to life and to health of people everywhere,” Bachelet said. 

“To effectively combat the virus all public health measures should be carried out without discrimination of any kind with an emphasis on transparency and information to empower people to participate in protecting health,” she added. (Reuters)

(Production: Lucien Libert)

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