09/14/2013 08:01 EDT | Updated 11/14/2013 05:12 EST

Quebec values charter protest hits Montreal streets

Thousands of people have gathered in downtown Montreal to protest the charter of Quebec values proposed by the Parti Québécois.

Many of the protesters gathered in Place Émilie-Gamelin were wearing head coverings in defiance of the PQ's move to ban overt religious symbols in Quebec schools, hospitals and elsewhere in the public realm.

- Charter of Quebec values would ban religious symbols for public workers

Hijabs, turbans, yarmulkes and larger-than-average crucifixes all fall under the proposed ban, which was unveiled by the Marois government earlier this week and which sparked a heated debate in Quebec and across Canada.

Once over a thousand protesters had gathered, the crowd began the 2.2-kilometre walk to Place du Canada.

While opinion polls indicate there is some support for the charter, mainly in the province's outlying regions, opponents have called it discriminatory.

Adil Charkaoui, a spokesman for the Quebec Collective Against Islamophobia, has said Saturday's demonstration is only one of several planned actions against the proposed charter.

Still, members of some religious groups have questioned the timing of today's demonstration.

David Ouellette of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said prior to the protest that it's unlikely any Jewish group will attend.

"This demonstration was clearly planned without taking into account the participation of our community since it's Yom Kippur, which is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar," he said.

Ouellette said his organization will avoid street demonstrations and try to talk directly to the government about its concerns over the charter.