Quebecers Uncomfortable With Religious Headgear, Poll Shows

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Muslim university student Dalila Awada poses for a photograph outside her home in Montreal, Wednesday, August 28, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES /Graham Hughes | CP

A poll commissioned by Radio-Canada after the Parti Québécois unveiled its proposed charter of values shows Quebecers are unevenly split on the wearing of religious symbols.

Over 1,100 Quebecers were asked a series of questions related to the debate brewing across the province on the subject of religion by SOM Research.

When they were asked whether they would be comfortable if their child’s daycare worker wore a cross, hijab, turban or kippa, 79 per cent of respondents said a cross would be fine.

Meanwhile, only 49 per cent of people said they were comfortable with the hijab, 46 per cent with the turban and 41 per cent with the kippa.

Elsewhere, 90 per cent of Quebecers said they’d be at ease with a doctor wearing a cross, while only 65 per cent of them said they’d be equally at ease with a doctor wearing a kippa.

The disparity could be owed to confusion about what a kippa actually is, said SOM Research Vice-President Éric Lacroix.

Considering that the kippa, a skullcap worn by Orthodox Jewish men, is actually the least visible of the headwear mentioned in the poll, Lacroix said it’s possible some respondents confused it with “kirpan.”

“The two words are very similar in French, and the kirpan was at the centre of a controversy a couple years ago in Quebec in terms of religious accommodations,” Lacroix said.

He said it’s possible people are not well-informed about the difference between religious symbols.

More generally speaking, 47 per cent of respondents said they felt the project of the charter of Quebec values was an attempt on the PQ’s part to try to gain votes in the next election, while 41 per cent said they believed it was an attempt to settle an issue important to Quebecers.

For more in-depth poll results in French, consult Radio-Canada’s website.

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