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Groups launch challenge of Quebec's secularism bill one day after it becomes law

Quebec Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Simon Jolin Barrette, left, is congratulated by Quebec Premier Francois Legault after they voted a legislation on secularism, at the National Assembly in Quebec City, Sunday, June 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

MONTREAL — A national Muslim organization is joining civil liberties advocates to launch a court challenge of Quebec’s secularism law less than 24 hours after the legislation was adopted.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association announced their challenge today. Representatives say they’ll unveil their legal strategy at a news conference this afternoon in Montreal.

The Coalition Avenir Quebec government used its majority to push through Bill 21 by a vote of 73 to 35 Sunday night after applying the mechanism of closure to end debate on the bill.

Quebec’s new law prohibits public workers in positions of authority from wearing religious symbols on the job. The law applies to teachers, police officers, judges, prosecutors and others.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims says one of the plaintiffs in the court challenge is a Muslim university student in Quebec who wears a hijab and is studying to work in a field affected by the new law.

Immigration Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, who sponsored the bill, told reporters today he is not worried about the court challenge because the legislation invokes the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution. That clause prevents citizens from challenging the law for human rights violations.

The Canadian Press