Quebec passes law banning facial coverings in public

The Canadian province is barring public workers from wearing the niqab or burqa and obliging citizens to unveil while using public transit or government services

The Canadian province of Quebec has passed a sweeping ban on face coverings barring public workers from wearing the niqab or burqa and obliging citizens to unveil when riding public transit or receiving government services ushering in a law believed to be the first of its kind in North America.

The legislation was adopted on Wednesday, capping off two years of work by the provinces Liberal government to address the issue of state neutrality. The resulting law has been condemned by critics who say it deliberately targets Muslim women and will fuel the provinces simmering debate on identity, religion and tolerance.

Philippe Couillard, the premier of Quebec, was defensive as he addressed the new law. We are just saying that for reasons linked to communication, identification and safety, public services should be given and received with an open face, he told reporters. We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. Its as simple as that.

The law was originally meant to ban face coverings for those offering or receiving services from government departments and provincially funded institutions, such as universities.

In August, the legislation was extended to apply to municipalities, school boards, public health services and transit authorities, raising the possibility that women wearing a niqab or burqa in Quebec would not be able to take the metro or ride the city bus. As long as the service is being rendered, the face should be uncovered, Stphanie Valle, Quebecs justice minister, said when asked.

The legislation stipulates that exemptions can be made for those who provide spiritual care or religious instruction, as well as those who are forced to cover their faces due to working conditions or occupational hazards.

Amid widespread confusion as to how the new law would be applied and who it would affect, Valle said the province would now work with municipalities, schools and public daycares to establish clear guidelines.

The Liberal government has long argued that the legislation which does not specifically mention the niqab or burqa addresses public safety, noting that it would also apply to masked protesters.

We are not legislating on clothing, Valle said last year. Public services have to be offered and received with the face uncovered for security, identification and communication purposes.

Others citing a 2016 survey that suggested that just 3% of Muslim women in Canada wear the niqab have accused the provincial government of targeting Muslim women in order to curry votes in the run-up to next years provincial election.

It seems like a made-up solution to an invented problem, said Ihsaan Gardee of the National Council of Canadian Muslims. We dont have a big issue right now with hordes of Muslim women in niqab trying to work in the public service or accessing public services with difficulty.

The law comes after two attempts by authorities in Quebec to legislate secularism in the public domain in recent years. A 2010 attempt by the Liberals died on the order paper after two years; a bill by the previous separatist government that sought to ban teachers, doctors and other public workers from wearing highly visible religious symbols failed to pass before an election was called.

On Wednesday the Liberals flexed their majority in the provincial government to pass the legislation, fending off calls from the provinces two main opposition parties to put in place tougher laws to address the issue of secularism and religious accommodation.

I know people would have liked us to go further, Valle told the provinces national assembly. Others think we are going too far. I think a balance has been found.

Many have voiced concerns that the new law targets a segment of the population that is already marginalised and stigmatised. We cant divorce this bill from the larger context in which it falls, said Gardee. According to Statistics Canada, hate crimes targeting Canadian Muslims increased from 2012 to 2015 by 253%.

Earlier this year, the province was left reeling after six men all of them fathers were shot dead as they prayed at a mosque in Quebec City. During the eulogy for the men killed, Imam Hassan Guillet drew a direct line between their murders and the political climate facing Muslims in Canada.

Unfortunately, day after day, week after week, month after month, certain politicians, and certain reporters and certain media, poisoned our atmosphere, he said.

While Quebec politicians said the ban on receiving services while wearing a face covering would enter into effect immediately, implementation of the law is likely to be hindered by the many questions that remain. We dont know how this is going to be applied and how it will be enforced, said Gardee. Its deeply troubling.

The legislation does note that those affected by the law can put in a request for accommodation, but little explanation is given to the criteria or how exactly it would work. The government said it would use the coming months to better outline how these requests should be treated as well as develop guidelines for those working in the public sector.

Legal observers said they expect several advocacy groups to challenge the new law in courts, pitting it against the countrys Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the provincial equivalent.

Gardee said it was an option his organisation would likely be considering in the coming days. We are of that opinion that the state has no business in the wardrobe of the nations, he said. The state should not be coercing women to undress or dress in any particular fashion.

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Egyptian Politician: We Need FGM To Lower Female Libido

A member of Egyptian parliament called on women to agree to female genital mutilation, or FGM, in order to “reduce their sexual appetites,” local media reported. He also allegedly cited Egyptian men’s high rate of consumption of sexual stimulants…

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Cardinal George Pell charged with multiple sexual offences

Pell says he will return to Australia to clear his name after being charged Move against third-ranking official in Vatican sends shockwaves around church

Cardinal George Pell, Australias most senior Catholic and the third-ranking official in the Vatican, has been charged with multiple sexual offences by police.

The charges were served on Pells legal representatives in Melbourne on Thursday and they have been lodged also at Melbourne magistrates court. He will appear at the court on 18 July.

Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges and there are multiple complainants, Victoria polices deputy commissioner Shane Patton said. The charges were historical sexual assault offences.

In a statement released by the Catholic archdiocese of Sydney 90 minutes after the charges were announced, Pell announced he would return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name.

Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged in the Catholic churchs long-running sexual abuse scandal.

Pells statement, issued at 4.30am Rome time, said: Although it is still in the early hours of the morning in Rome, Cardinal George Pell has been informed of the decision and action of Victoria police. He has again strenuously denied all allegations.

Cardinal Pell will return to Australia, as soon as possible, to clear his name following advice and approval by his doctors who will also advise on his travel arrangements.

He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously.

It is so far unclear just what allegations Pell has been charged with. Pell was due to make a further statement in Rome later on Thursday.

Detectives from Victoria polices Sano taskforce, established to investigate allegations that emerged during a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria and the later royal commission, interviewed Pell in Rome in October about allegations against him.

Last year, citing ill health, Pell declined to return to Australia to give evidence to the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse in person last year and instead gave evidence by videolink from Rome.

The royal commission, ordered by then-Australian prime minister Julia Gillard in 2012 and formed in 2013, is due to deliver its final report by 15 December.

In February the Australian Senate called on the cardinal to return home to assist the Victorian police and office of public prosecutions with their investigation into these matters.

Pell dismissed the parliamentary resolution as an interference on the part of the Senate in the due process of the Victoria police investigation.

The cardinal is a former archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne. Since 2014 he has been prefect of the secretariat for the economy the Vaticans treasurer. He was ordained in Rome in 1966.

When Pope Francis was asked about allegations against Pell last year, he told reporters: Its true, there is a doubt. We have to wait for justice and not first make a mediatic judgment a judgment of gossip because that wont help. Once justice has spoken, I will speak.

Shane Patton, Victoria state police deputy commissioner, announces charges against George Pell in Melbourne. Photograph: Reuters

Patton told the media conference: During the course of the investigation in relation to Cardinal Pell, there has been a lot of reporting in the media and speculation about the process that has been involved in the investigation and also the charging.

For clarity, I want to be perfectly clear, the process and procedures that are being followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offences whenever we investigate them.

The fact that he has been charged on summons, we have used advice from the office of public prosecutions and also we have engaged with his legal representatives is common and standard practice. There has been no change in any procedures whatsoever. Advice was received and sought from the office of public prosecutions, however ultimately, the choice to charge Cardinal Pell was one that was made by Victoria police.

Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process and so therefore, it is important that the process is allowed to run its natural course.

Patton said as the matter was now due before the court, police would be making no further comment.

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The Woman Who Gave Birth Every Time She Went To The Bathroom

Iris Feldspars heart was racing. The unemployed but independently wealthy yoga instructor was trying her best to breathe deeply and calmly, but it felt as if at any moment her heart was going to break through her ribcage like a prisoner making a jailbreak.

In the past three days, Iris had given birth three timeseach time shed gone to the bathroom to defecate. But when shed try to squeeze out a turd, a newborn baby plopped into the toilet bowl instead. There was never any pain, but the first time she wiped herself she noticed giant globs of blood and mucus on the toilet paper. And each time, to her increasing horror, she saw a newborn infant squirming in the toilet bowl.

Rather than notifying her personal physician or the police, each time she summoned her personal maid Consuelo, who doubled as a wet nurse, to rescue and attend to the baby. Under threat of deportation, Iris sternly instructed Consuelo to keep quiet.

Bathed in stress sweat, Iris waited anxiously outside on the patio at a seaside cafe in La Jolla, CA for her best friend and spiritual advisor Judith Schechter to arrive. She hadnt even touched her kale salad with organic walnuts and free-trade dried cranberries. She had told Judith that it was an emergency but hadnt shared any details beyond that.

Whereas Iris was so average-looking as to almost be invisiblebrown eyes, brown hair pulled tightly in a ponytail, matching grey sweatpants and sweatshirt with running shoesJudith had bushels of curly grey hair and swaddled her pear-shaped Earth Mother frame in brightly colored ponchos woven byindigenous Third World peasants. Even though they were born less than ten miles apart in Southern California, Judith was trying to convince Iris that everything Western was inauthentic.

Whats going on, hon? Iriss head jerked around to see Judith waddling toward her table. As Judith sat down and ordered some freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice from the waiter, Iris took the deepest breath of her life.

Thank you for coming. I was freaking out thinking you werent going to come. Im freaking out anyway. III

calm down, sweetheart, Judith advised. Its OK. Im here to help. Whats going on?

Iris darted her eyes around the patio to make sure no one was listening. Youre going to think Im crazyeven think Im crazybut Ive accidentally given birth to three babies the past three days. The last time was this morning, when I went into the bathroom to poo. But each time I tried to poo the last three days, a baby came out instead.

Judith smiled warmly.

Iris shouted, causing all the restaurants patrons to look at her. Sorry, she said to Judith, now whispering. But Im losing my mind here, and I wish you wouldnt think this is some kind of joke.

Sweet spirit, Im not laughing you, Judith said, reaching her wrinkled, veiny, liver-spotted hands across the table to clasp Iriss trembling claws. Im for you.

Iris said to the gentle sound of ocean waves crashing against the cliffs. Im, Im Ive told Consuelo to keep mum about this. If word gets out, this will be the biggest news story in the world. Like 9/11. Or Michael Jacksons death. Whats there to be happy about?

Judith smiled again and took a slow sip of wheatgrass juice as she sought the proper words. No, darling, you be happy. Your body has taken a great leap forward in your journey toward personal empowerment and unlimited consciousness.


Theres an ancient Hindu saying to the tune of What goes in the mouth comes out through the anus. Its a metaphor forthe entire karmic cycle of cause and effect. Everything is part of The One. Part of this beautiful cycle. When your body dies, you decompose but give life to other organisms. So your dead, decomposing body may look ugly, but its only in the service of producing something new and young and alive and beautiful.

Judith, I love you, but I have no idea what youre talking about, and Im about to scream.

Youre still seeing Nate, right? Nate Handey was Iriss boyfriend, but he was currently in Africa for two months teaching villagers about the value of water purification and solar panels.

Yes, Im still seeing Nate. Hes the only man Ive ever been with who worships the Divine Goddess within me.

And you dont have unprotected vaginal intercourse with him because you dont want children, right?

Absolutely. There are enough children in the world, and overpopulation is destroying the planet. We need to take care of all the sick, hungry, and impoverished children who are here already.

I understand, love. But do you swallow?


I know its a personal question, but when you perform oral sex on him, do you take his semen into your body through your mouth?

Iris looked around, blushing. Well, yes. He said it was essential to his pleasure, and I take pleasure myself in pleasuring him.

Judith smiled to herself. I thought so. Sorry if my question was rude.

With the first baby, I thought it was one of those cases where I just didnt realize I was pregnant. You hear that happening in the inner city all the timea young girl goes to the bathroom and delivers a baby and says she didnt realize she was pregnant. But then it happens the next day? And then the

Sweet truth-seeker, Judith said reassuringly, the universe is teaching you a very important lesson. We are all one. There is no difference between the lowest worm and the most self-actualized yogi. Its very common for a woman to defecate while giving birth. You are merely giving birth while attempting to defecate. But its all the same principle. There is no difference.

Are you trying to say that babies are as disgusting as shit?

No, Im saying that shit is as sacred as babies are. The forces of the universe see no difference between your baby and feces. We are all made of the same materialconsciousness. Western religions are based on dualitiesgood and evil, light and darkness, and all that nonsense that causes so much pain and suffering. Eastern religions are based on the scientific fact that we are all one.

Judith, I cant keep having babies every day.

The universe has decided that you can. If we had a sufficient government safety net and the Republicans werent standing in the way of progress, this wouldnt even be an issue.

Iris felt that familiar pressure and low growling in her abdomen. She excused herself, got up from the table, and walked quickly to the bathroom to have another baby.

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