A Muslim woman wearing a hijab put the Parti Québécois on the defensive in a sharp exchange on the first day of hearings over the secular charter that would prohibit public sector employees from wearing overt religious symbols.
Samira Laouni told the minority PQ government that its proposed legislation was creating social tensions unheard of in Quebec until now. Some Muslim women have been spat on and have had their head scarf torn off, she said. "I've been here for 15 years. I have never seen it like this until now," she told the committee.
Ms. Laouni was among the first seven to appear at the National Assembly, but 250 parties have submitted briefs and 200 hours have been set aside for presentations over the next several weeks.