Quebec Premier Pauline Marois's suggestion that the Charter of Quebec Values due to be tabled next week will assert the equality of women and men is one that may resonate with many Quebec women. Although it remains to be seen what exactly will be banned in the proposed bill, reports suggest it will include religious headgear and other visible religious symbols, in a range of institutions including day-care centres and government offices.

A provision banning face veils in the name of gender equality wouldn't be new to Quebec. In 2010 a young woman in a French-language classroom was required to leave for repeatedly refusing, despite attempts at accommodation, to remove her niqab in the presence of men, so that the instructor could evaluate her pronunciation.

The niqab is a veil that covers the entire face, leaving only the eyes visible. It is halfway between a burqa, which covers the entire face, and the hijab, which covers the head but leaves the face completely visible.

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