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Parents speak out in defence of niqab-wearing daycare workers

11/21/2013 12:55 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST
Some parents are defending the veiled daycare workers who gained notoriety this week after a photograph of them wearing niqabs was distributed online.

The photo shows two daycare teachers wearing the niqab — a full-length Muslim veil, as they accompany six children on a walk in Montreal's Verdun borough.

A group of 13 parents who send their children to that daycare have written a letter saying the teachers have always taken care of their children with love, and that the veils are removed once they are inside.

The parents acknowledge that while they were at first concerned about the veils, “our apprehensions, our fears, our doubts all quietly faded away.”

Now the parents say a new source of fear has infiltrated their circle — an external one.

They say they have been bombarded, describing how neighbours have insulted the teachers in front of the children, while they play at the local park.

“Our kids are in danger,” the letter states.

“To the people shouting their insults and taking photographs: these women, and their husbands as well, open their doors to you to discuss … Our children's smiles when speaking about them is all the proof we need … if you don’t agree with their choices, we beg you: respect them, and our children too.”

Drainville pleads for 'common sense'

As it stands now, the Parti Québécois’s secular charter would not interfere with a case like this — the restrictions would only apply to staff at public daycares (CPEs) or private daycares subsidized by the government.

Bernard Drainville, the minister responsible for the secular charter, said that when his party created Bill 60, it decided that interfering with what someone could wear in the private realm would go too far.

But that didn’t stop Drainville from making his own plea.

"Whether or not the charter is modified, there is nothing stopping the owner of a non-subsidized private daycare from asking their educators to keep their faces uncovered while working with children. It's a question of respect for the children. It's a question of common sense.”

Drainville said that he would consider expanding the charter to apply to private, non-subsidized daycares in the ban, if it's brought up during upcoming parliamentary meetings.

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