Religious symbols proposal ignites fiery debate in Quebec

A proposal to ban many public employees from wearing religious symbols is creating a fiery debate in the Canadian province of Quebec, where people are fighting to freely practice their religion — or to be free of it.

The measure introduced late last month would prohibit civil servants, teachers, nurses, bus drivers, lawyers and other people who interact with the public from wearing religious symbols while at work.

It would apply to Sikh turbans, Christian jewelry and Jewish kippahs, but the focus of the controversy has been over hijabs worn by many Muslim women in Quebec.

Thousands of demonstrators attended a recent march in Montreal to protest the measure.

But Quebec Premier Francois Legault has told reporters that the bill would reinforce gender equality in the province.