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Updated: Tue, 04 Mar 2014 21:54:35 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Most Anglos, allophones say secular 'values' charter targets Muslim women



Shahad Salman says she sees herself as a Quebecer, no matter what the charter of values suggests. CBC

Shahad Salman says she sees herself as a Quebecer, no matter what the charter of values suggests. CBC

Most non-francophones agree that Quebec's secular charter singles out Muslim women and infringes on religious rights, a CBC-Ekos poll suggests.

The Parti Québécois government’s proposed charter would ban public sector employees from wearing overt religious symbols, such as the hijab.

Lawyer Shahad Salman, who works at the McGill Centre of Genomics and Policy, says she feels personally targeted by the charter, which is also known as Bill 60.  

A CBC-commissioned Ekos poll suggests the majority of Quebec anglophones and allophones agree with Salman. 

Seventy-eight per cent of anglophones and 70 per cent of allophones surveyed agreed the proposed legislation targets Muslim women.

"When there is a proposal that hinders your fundamental rights, of course it targets me as a woman who actively wants to participate as a public servant," Salman said.

Salman says she sees herself as a Quebecer, and no charter of values will affect how she sees herself, or where she decides to live.

The vast majority of non-francophones surveyed agreed the charter is an infringement of fundamental and religious rights — 84 per cent of anglophones and 74 per cent of allophones. Only 36 per cent of francophone respondents agreed.

Tahira Abbas, 28, has a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's in international relations.

Abbas is currently a stay-at-home mother, but plans to return to work in the university environment. 

She says she's concerned that if Bill 60 passes, she would be forced to choose between her hijab and her career. 

"It's … unthinkable to me."

"The charter is trying to tell me that even if you speak French very well, [if] you are very competent, [if] you desire to contribute to the academic life, you will be stopped because of your veil."

Abbas says she loves Montreal, calling it one of the "happiest cities" in the world. She says she doesn't want to leave.

"I hope my little girl will grow up in a society like I did, that teaches that diversity is a source of richness and not a handicap for society."

About the survey

A total of 2,020 Quebec residents were interviewed by phone between Feb. 10 and 18, 2014, as part of this CBC-commissioned Ekos study. The margin of error for a sample of 2,020 is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Those surveyed included 782 anglophones (with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points 95 per cent of the time), 1,009 francophones (with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points 95 per cent of the time) and 223 allophones (with a margin of error of plus or minus 6.5 percentage points 95 per cent of the time).

Anglophones are respondents who identified their mother tongue as English; francophones are people who identified their mother tongue as French; and allophones identified their mother tongue as "other."

Percentages for total respondents have been weighted to reflect linguistic population make-up of Quebec.

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