Last week, the Canadian province of Quebec passed a law banning face-veils for those seeking to use public services, becoming the first jurisdiction in North America to institute a ban on niqabs and burqas.
Commenting on the legislation, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended women's freedom of choice and implied that the Quebec legislation contradicts the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"I don’t think it’s the government’s business to tell a woman what she should or shouldn’t be wearing," he told reporters, according to The Guardian.
The Canadian province adopted the law (Bill 62) on Wednesday, which prohibits people from wearing face-veils while benefiting from public services, such as public transportation, municipalities, school boards, and public health services.
The move aims to address the issue of state neutrality and maintaining security, according to Quebec's Liberal government.
However, critics have condemned the ban and said it "deliberately targets Muslim women and will fuel the province’s simmering debate on identity, religion, and tolerance".
In response, PM Trudeau said his government was looking into the repercussions of the legislation.
"As a federal government, we are going to take our responsibility seriously and look carefully at what the implications are," he told reporters.
Trudeau noted that the federal government is obliged to respect the provinces' right to pass their own laws. However, he did not give a clear answer as to whether it will challenge the new law in court.
"But as you know full well, as a Liberal, at the federal level, I believe fundamentally in rights, in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and I will always defend that.
It's not up to the federal government to challenge this, but we will certainly be looking at how this will unfold with full respect for the national assembly."
According to The Guardian, legal experts expect several advocacy groups to dispute Quebec's legislation in courts.
But the law is definitely not the first of its kind in the world, as similar versions have been adopted by countries across Europe, including Austria, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland.
This is not the first time Trudeau stood up for Muslims
Trudeau has asserted himself as an ally for Muslims, who have been facing severe discrimination in the West.
He has expressed support for Muslims on several occasions, most notably while US President Donald Trump was doing the opposite.
Earlier this year, when Trump signed a now-amended executive order which restricts immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, Trudeau responded by saying Canada welcomes refugees rejected by the US.
"To those fleeing persecution, terror, and war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada," he posted at the time.
Similarly, when a white supremacist terrorist attacked a mosque in Quebec in the wake of Trump's "Muslim ban", Trudeau gave an incredibly powerful speech assuring firm solidarity with Muslims. It was arguably one of the most pro-Muslim speeches by any Western head of state.
This, along with joining the Muslim community for prayer and supporting Muslims' right to pray at schools.