North America appears to have its first "burka ban," the Guardian reports. Quebec's National Assembly passed Bill 62 on Wednesday, and while the law banning facial coverings doesn't specifically mention burqas or niqabs, those have certainly been the main point of debate, according to Reuters. CBC reports the law applies to both public workers—teachers, doctors, and more—and people receiving public services—including, potentially, public transit riders. A 21-year-old woman who wears a niqab says the ban will force her to stay home instead going to the library or hanging out at the mall with friends because she doesn't have a car. "It will just block me from the rest of the world," she says. The ban will take effect in July.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says the law is about "identification and safety." "We are in a free and democratic society," he says. "You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. It's as simple as that." But critics say the law unfairly targets Muslim women and is simply an attempt to gain votes ahead of next year's elections. The National Council of Canadian Muslims calls it "ugly identity politics," and the council's Ihsaan Gardee says it's "a made-up solution to an invented problem." A 2016 survey found just 3% of Muslim women in Canada wear a niqab. Meanwhile, hate crimes against Canadian Muslims are on the rise, and six people were killed in a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City last January. Bulgaria, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Bavaria in Germany have passed similar burka bans.