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Québec minister branded hypocrite over Malala tweet

26th Jul 2019
Québec minister branded hypocrite over Malala tweet

Jean-François Roberge inset was accused of hypocrisy after tweeting a photograph of himself with Malala Yousafzai (Photo:- UK Department for International Development)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Québec Education Minister, Jean-François Roberge, was accused of hypocrisy after tweeting a photograph of himself with Malala Yousafzai earlier this month. Roberge met Yousafzai in Paris on July 5 and discussed education and international development.

However, Roberge was swiftly reminded that the 21-year-old hijab-wearing Nobel Peace Prize laureate would not, under his Government’s new secularism law, be legally permitted to teach in Québec public schools.

Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban terrorists in 2012 for daring to go to school and has since been recognised internationally for her work campaigning for girlseducation.
Roberge was roundly criticised online. “Did you tell her that in Quebec, women dressed like Malala do not have access to certain jobs in the public service? Thanks to your government,” one Twitter user said.

“You hypocrite. You wouldn’t let her become a teacher here in Quebec – you can’t score points by posing with Malala,” said another. He was also asked by Montreal-based journalist Salim Nadim Valji what he would say to if Yousafzai wanted to teach in the province.

Roberge responded: “I would certainly tell her it would be an immense honour and that in Québec, as in France… as well as in other open and tolerant countries, teachers can’t wear religious signs while performing their duties.Last month Québec’s lawmakers adopted legislation banning public sector workers from wearing religious symbols.

The Coalition Avenir Québec’s 21 Bill covers judges, police officers, teachers and some other public figures. The secularism bill sparked protests and much debate in the province.
Supporters say the law is a reasonable step towards enshrining the separation of religion and state in Québec.

While the legislation does not single out any specific religion, critics argue it is discriminatory and say it unfairly targets Muslim women in the province who wear hijabs or other head-coverings.

Roberge is in Paris for ministerial education meetings before the G7 Summit in August. On the agenda are issues of early childhood education, girls schooling, and teachers’ training in developing countries. Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her work in supporting the right of young girls to get an education. A legal challenge to Bill 21 has been launched by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

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