Most of us would be compelled to share a photo on social media if we met a Nobel Prize recipient like human rights activist Malala Yousafzai.
But things went sideways for Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge after he shared his photo-op with Yousafzai on Twitter. The pair were in France, where they discussed “access to education and international development,” according to Roberge.
Social media was quick to highlight the minister’s “shameful hypocrisy,” less than two weeks after his CAQ government adopted Bill 21 in Quebec. The law bans public sector employees in positions of authority, including teachers, police officers and judges, from wearing religious symbols at work.
Numerous responses on Roberge’s Twitter post pointed out that Yousafzai — who opposed the Taliban’s efforts to ban schooling for girls in her native Pakistan — could not teach in Quebec while wearing a headscarf, as she traditionally does.
The 21-year-old has become an international activist for the right to education. When she was 15, a Taliban gunman shot her and two other girls in an assassination attempt as a response to her activism.
Yousafzi became an honorary Canadian citizen in 2014 and gave an inspirational address to the House of Commons in Ottawa at the time.
Roberge is in Paris for ministerial education meetings before the G7 summit in August. On the agenda are issues of early childhood education, girls’ schooling, and teacher training in developing countries.
Roberge’s press officer has not yet responded to HuffPost Québec’s request for an interview on the social backlash.
With a file from Andree Lau