Quebec calls for Canada's anti-Islamophobia representative to resign
The government of Quebec province called Monday for the resignation of Canada's newly-appointed representative to fight Islamophobia, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he supports Amira Elghawaby.
Elghawaby, a human rights activist and the world's first government-appointed official anti-Islamophobia agent, wrote a newspaper column in 2019 critical of the then-recent passing of Quebec's secular law, Bill 21, which bans public servants from wearing religious symbols, including the hijab.
Provincial language minister Jean-Francois Roberge said Elghawaby, who was appointed four days ago, did not offer an acceptable apology for the criticism and that means she seems to hold "anti-Quebec sentiment."
"All she did was try to justify her hateful comments," Roberge said. "That doesn't fly. She must resign, and if she doesn't, the (federal) government must remove her immediately."
Elghawaby said she stands by what she wrote and never painted the majority of Quebecers as Islamophobic.
Trudeau said her role is to advise the government on policies to counter Islamophobia and to speak for Muslims. The column criticizing Bill 21 is an example.
"She is there to speak for the community, with the community, and build bridges," Trudeau said. "Her job now is to make sure that she is helping the government and helping everyone move forward in the fight against Islamophobia."
Groups representing Muslims have been highly critical of Bill 21, saying that banning provincial employees such as teachers from wearing the hijab forces a Muslim woman to choose between her religion and her career.
They are fighting the legislation in court.
Trudeau announced Elghawaby's appointment on Jan. 26, a move applauded by Muslim organizations.