As a Muslim teenager in her native Tunisia, Nadia El-Mabrouk never once saw a woman wearing a full-face veil. After moving to Canada, she was shocked to see her first one on the streets of Montreal.

Now the University of Montreal computer-science professor is one of many Quebec residents backing a provincial government ban on the Islamic face covering, called a niqab. "It's a walking prison," she said.

The measure, part of a law passed by the National Assembly of Quebec in October, bans women from wearing face coverings when using public services such as buses or libraries. Provincial lawmakers say the law is meant to ensure public security and is among the first of its kind in North America.

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