An image of Malala Yousafzai alongside a Canadian minister Jean-François Roberge has gone viral on Twitter for a very pointed reason - her headscarf.
On July 5, Quebec's education minister Jean-François Roberge posted a photo with Malala Yousafzai, the women's education campaigner who shot to fame after taking a Taliban bullet to the head for insisting on going to school and survived. In the caption he wrote, "Nice meeting with Malala Yousafzai, nobel peace prize laureate, to discuss access to education and international development"
The image, which was taken in France where the minister met with Malala, has sparked a debate and outrage against the minister.
The Canadian province of Quebec recently passed some controversial "secular" legislation that bans certain civil servants of persons in "authority" from wearing religious symbols or ostentatious markers of faith. These include teachers who cannot wear rosaries and in case of Malala, headscarves while performing their duties as a teacher.
The idea is to keep the Church and state separate. The legislation called The Coalition Avenir Quebec's (CAQ) bill also includes police officers, judges and certain other public figures, the BBC reported.
However, critics felt that the law unfairly targeted Muslim women. And with him posting a photo with the hijab-clad education activist, many on the internet could not help but note the hypocrisy. However, when a journalist named Salim Nadim Valji asked the education minister how he would respond if she wanted to come and teach in Quebec, he said it would not be possible unless she removed her headscarf.
Mr. Roberge, how would you respond if Mme Yousafzai wanted to become a teacher in Quebec?— Salim Nadim Valji (@salimvalji) July 5, 2019
I’m sure that you didn’t mention how your government has banned her from teaching in Quebec right? You go against everything she stands for, you hypocrite.— Paolo (@Captain_Crash83) July 5, 2019
Another French user wrote, "You applaud her work in accessible education at the same time as you forbid him to do so in Quebec. You pose with her for a photo-op, it's insulting".