Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge is being roundly criticized and facing charges of hypocrisy after posting a photo on social media with human rights activist Malala Yousafzai.
The photograph, which was posted on Friday, shows a smiling Roberge and Yousafzai, who is wearing a headscarf, in front of a painting in France. In his post, Roberge says he had a great encounter with the Nobel Peace Prize winner to discuss access to education and international development.
The post immediately sparked backlash on social media, with some referencing the Quebec government’s recently passed Bill 21, its controversial secularism reform.
The legislation prohibits civil servants in positions of authority — including teachers — from wearing religious symbols while at work.
“Are you serious?” one Twitter user wrote in response to Roberge’s post.
While the Coalition Avenir Québec government maintains its religious symbols ban has widespread support from Quebecers, it has also sparked legal challenges and protests in Montreal. Some schools have even vowed not to apply the law.
“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 replied.
As the photo picked up steam, another user wrote: “You hypocrite. You wouldn’t let her become a teacher here in Quebec — you can’t score points by posing with Malala.”
When asked by a journalist how he would respond if Yousafzai wanted to become a teacher in Quebec, Roberge was quick to defend his government’s policies.
“I would certainly tell her that it would be an immense honour and that in Quebec, as is the case in France (where we are now) and in other open and tolerant countries, teachers cannot wear religious symbols in the exercise of their functions,” Roberge wrote.
Quebec’s opposition parties also criticized Roberge after the photo was posted. Liberal MNA Christine St-Pierre said it was unbelievable and asked if Roberge spoke to Yousafzai about Bill 21. For more latest news Pakistan, visit 9newshd.tv