Muslim and civil rights groups have challenged Quebec’s ban on officials or anyone receiving public services from covering their face, saying it violates Muslim women’s religious rights.
The Quebec Superior Court was urged by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) and the National Council of Canadian Muslims to rule on the constitutionality of the law which was passed last month.
The groups also asked for the law’s implementation to be delayed.
Marie-Michelle Lacoste, a woman who converted to Islam and wears a niqab, was listed as a plaintiff in court documents.
According to Ihsaan Gardee of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the law is “discriminatory, unconstitutional and unnecessary”.
It “excludes and stigmatizes an already marginalized vulnerable minority of women and by extension, the larger Quebec Muslim community,” he said.
“Our governments simply have no place dictating to a woman what she can and cannot wear,” echoed the CCLA’s Cara Faith Zwibel.
“And no woman should have to choose between acting in accordance with her sincerely held religious beliefs and accessing basic public services like taking her child to school on a public bus or visiting a doctor’s office,” she added.
The government says the law applies to all face coverings and does not target Muslim women but critics say it will marginalize Muslim women by limiting their access to government jobs and services.