Quebec won’t try to revive niqab ban

Quebec has decided not to try to defend the niqab ban that was originally part of its bill 10 law on religious neutrality but was struck down in June by a Superior Court judge.

I still have not seen numbers indicating how prevalent the face veil is in Quebec. I just spotted these sample numbers in a tweet – I don’t know how reliable – on what proportion of several populations wears the full veil:

France: 0.0006%
Netherlands: 0.003%
UK: no available numbers but believed to be under 300 or 0.0002%

Notice that the UK, where it’s also a hot potato issue, has no available numbers. We should always be wary of laws being passed on ideological grounds with no actual studies, facts or statistics to back them up. If a minuscule proportion of your population is wearing the veil, the only purpose of such a law would be to assuage the xenophobia of people who have very likely never even seen one.

One strand of thought in Quebec is prone to want to follow suit with France even if the background situation here is not the same, and France has the longest standing ban on the full face veil in public. This BBC survey from May on laws in various European countries (this isn’t an issue governed by the EU as a whole, it seems) says the French ban has been in force since 2011; Denmark, often hailed as one of the enlightened Nordic countries, passed a niqab ban earlier this month.