Canadian teen campaigns against Bill banning religious symbols - Mandi Gobindgarh News

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Canadian teen campaigns against Bill banning religious symbols

Canadian teen campaigns against Bill banning religious symbols

Varinder Singh

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 16

While the row over Québec’s proposed Bill-21 has flared up as it would affect members of minority communities, including Sikhs, based in the Canadian province, Sukhman Singh Shergill (15), a Montreal-based schoolboy, has resolved to gather support against the Bill.

Like thousands of others, Bill-21 will adversely affect Sukhman, who has been dreaming to become a police officer. The Bill proposes to ban wearing of religious symbols by public servants. Sukhman’s mother Manpreet Shergill said her son had always been striving to create history in Montreal by becoming the first police officer in the city to wear a turban.

Interestingly, it was his cousin Gurvinder Singh, a New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, who was the force behind the change of its uniform policy in 2016, whereby the NYPD had allowed its Sikh officers to wear turbans instead of traditional police cap.

But the proposed Quebec Bill has threatened to shatter all his dreams for it would ban public workers like lawyers, teachers, bus drivers and police officers from wearing any religious symbols, including turbans and hizabs.

Sukhman said he had resolved to campaign against the Bill. To start with, Sukhman has created a Facebook group — the Quebec Association of Sikhs — and hosted his video wherein he explains how the Bill would affect people like him. He is hoping to garner public support with the help of his initiative. He said he wanted the Montreal police to reflect its diversity and to know people about his religion as well.

On the other hand, Quebec Premier François Legault has said he might consider compromising with some aspects of the Bill, but not in case of banning police officials from wearing religious symbols.

The Montreal police (SPVM) has already clarified that it has not taken any position in case of religious symbols. At the same time, the Montreal Police Union has said it was in favour of the ban.

Interestingly, the Canadian Prime Minister has openly said he was not in favour of the proposed Québec ban on religious symbols as it compromised with the freedom of people. The Montreal City Council has already passed a unanimous declaration against Bill-21.

Who will be affected 

The Bill-21, which proposes to ban wearing of religious symbols by public servants, will affect school staff, police officers, provincial justice minister, attorney general, director of criminal and penal prosecutions, crown prosecutors, provincial government lawyers or notaries, members and heads of government commissions, speaker and vice-speaker of the National Assembly, clerks, sheriffs, commissioners, doctors, nurses, daycare officials, bus drivers and bankruptcy registrars.

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