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Quebec in Canada Considers Ban on Face Veils in Public Sector, in a move criticised as Marginalising Muslim Women

The proposed law prohibits anyone giving or receiving government services, such as a provincial government-issued health card, from wearing face-covering garments

FILE - A demonstrator adds a Quebec flag to her veil during a protest against Quebec's proposed Charter of Values in Montreal, Sept. 14, 2013. Thousands took to the streets to denounce the province's proposed bill to ban the wearing of any overt religious clothing by government-paid employees or people seeking government services.VOA

Montreal, October 20, 2016: Quebec is moving ahead with a law to ban face coverings in the public sector in a move criticised as marginalising Muslim women and potentially inflaming anti-immigrant tensions in the mainly French-speaking Canadian province.

The proposed law prohibits anyone giving or receiving government services, such as a provincial government-issued health card, from wearing face-covering garments. As an example, it would prevent a woman from donning the face-concealing burqa while trying to get a Quebec driver’s license and prohibit a civil servant from covering her face.

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The Quebec government is holding hearings before a vote on the legislation, which is likely to pass because of the centrist Liberal party’s majority in the legislature.

Quebec says the law is aimed at ensuring the religious neutrality of the state. Critics say a law is not required and only affects a small number of Muslim women who wear burqas or niqabs.

“It’s an unnecessary exercise,” said Amira Elghawaby, a spokeswoman for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, adding it could “isolate and victimise women who wear the face veil.”

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Like France, Quebec has struggled at times to reconcile its secular identity with a rising Muslim population, many of them North African immigrants. The face covering, or niqab, became a big issue in last year’s national Canadian elections, especially in Quebec, where the vast majority of the population supported a ban on them at citizenship ceremonies.

France in 2004 passed a hotly contested ban on veils, crosses and other religious symbols in schools, which appeared to be a model for Quebec’s “Charter of Values” that the previous provincial government tried to introduce in 2013.

Quebec’s justice minister has said the law is not an attack on Muslim women and “respects individual choices.”

“Our approach in this file would be balanced and respectful of greater principles such as gender equality and the recognition of rights and fundamental freedoms,” said Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee.

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The latest legislation, Bill 62, is a watered-down version of that charter, and opposition lawmakers say it does not go far enough.

Parti Quebecois legislator Agnes Maltais said Bill 62 fails to include services provided by municipalities, a key point of contact between civil servants and the public. Maltais said the law should be amended to prevent all state workers in positions of authority such as judges and prison guards from wearing religious symbols. (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?