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Malala’s meeting with Quebec minister garners backlash online

Updated July 07, 2019

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Quebec Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge with Malala Yousafzai. — Online
Quebec Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge with Malala Yousafzai. — Online

KARACHI: Quebec Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge is being accused of hypocrisy after tweeting a picture of himself with Nobel Peace Prize winning activist Malala Yousafzai.

According to CBC, Mr Roberge met Ms Yousafzai in France and said on Twitter that during the meeting they discussed education and international development.

However, he was quickly reminded that Ms Yousafzai — who wears a headscarf — would not be legally permitted to teach in Quebec public schools under his government’s new secularism law.

CBC reported that Mr Roberge was roundly criticised on Twitter, and was asked what he would say if Ms Yousafzai wanted to teach in the province.

Mr Roberge responded: “I would certainly tell her it would be an immense honour and that in Quebec, as in France ... as well as in other open and tolerant countries, teachers can’t wear religious signs while performing their duties.”

The report pointed out that Quebec’s legislature last month adopted a legislation banning public sector workers such as teachers, police officers and Crown prosecutors from wearing religious symbols on the job.

The Quebec minister is in Paris for ministerial education meetings before the G7 summit in August. On the agenda are issues of early childhood education, girls’ schooling, and teachers’ training in developing countries.

Ms Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her work in supporting the right of young girls to get education.

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2019