Why This Photo of Malala and Quebec's Education Minister is Getting MAJOR Backlash


People are calling out this photo of Malala Yousafzai and the Quebec Education Minister, Jean-Francois Roberge. Why the backlash?

Here’s the photo that caused the criticism. Here is Malala standing next to the Quebec Minister of Education and she’s wearing a headscarf.

The post reads, ‘Nice meeting with Malala Yousafzai, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, to discuss access to education and international development.’

Related: The First Barbie EVER to Wear a Hijab is Here!

Here’s the rub. She is not allowed to teach in Quebec (Canada) because of Quebec’s recent Bill 21 which requires public employees — including teachers — to remove religious attire if they want to keep their job.

This picture wasn’t received well, reports the BBC. Critics called the minister Jean-François Roberge a hypocrite for posing with her and discussing “access to education” which would disqualify Malala herself as a Muslim woman who wears a hijab.

What was the Quebec minister’s response to the backlash? He said that if Malala did wish to teach in Quebec it would be “huge honour” but teachers cannot wear religious symbols while on the job. Imagine telling a Nobel Peace Prize Winner how to dress?

Related: Forced to Remove Her Hijab, This Soldier Plans to Sue the US Army

Who is Malala?

A leader. The youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner (at 17-years-old). As a Pakistani teenager, she was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education. At the Forbes Under 30 Summit, this was her message to former US President Barack Obama:

‘Instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending weapons, send teachers.’

She was asked about Obama’s response. Her words were priceless and very telling. She said his response was ‘pretty political’. With this, she called out the slow rate of change and the low priority of peace.

With her organisation the Malala Fund, she’s working to see every girl in school in her lifetime.

Related: 17-Year-Old Nobel Peace Prize Winner Tells Obama How He Could ‘Change the World’

Quebec’s Controversial Law

Quebec passed a law barring teachers (also judges, police other civil servants) from wearing religious symbols at work. This includes the kippah, turban or hijab, according to the BBC. The secularism bill has been a hotly debated topic in the province, causing protests.

What do the supporters say?

They argue it’s a necessary step towards the separation of church and state in Quebec.

What do the critics say?

The bill doesn’t single out any religion. So why do critics say it’s discriminatory? It tends to unfairly target Muslim women in Quebec.

Related: French Police Force Woman to Publicly Remove Her Clothes on Beach

What Does South African Law Say on The Matter?

Employers in South Africa cannot force their employees not to wear religious emblems or symbols. This constitutes discrimination. According to the South African Labour Guide, “wearing such emblems is unlikely to affect the employees’ work circumstances in any way”. This is good news for us.

There is an exception. If an employee works with machinery, the employer can prohibit them from wearing religious emblems on chains that dangle freely around their necks. This exception may only be applied on the grounds of safety. Seems reasonable.

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