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Rights behind the veil

The Quebec Human Rights Commission said that state schools which ban the Islamic veil, the hidjab, are guilty of discrimination. A 51-page report from the commission said that if wearing the hidjab makes Muslim students an obvious minority, schools should take the opportunity to teach respect for human rights.

The study follows two cases in the predominantly French-speaking province of students being told they could not wear hidjabs in school, which sparked a debate on religious pluralism in state schools. The commission also said that religious schools, including a Muslim one in Montreal, violate the province's charter of rights when they force women teachers as a condition of employment to wear the hidjab.

The commission's ruling is not legally binding but is expected to have moral weight in the debate.

* The Ontario government is to establish a special regulatory college for teachers which will set standards of practice for the 120,000 teachers in the province and organise accreditation and a complaint system.

The province will also force teachers to be recertified every five years and increase postgraduate teacher training from one year to two. The reforms follow the publication last month of Ontario's Royal Commission on Learning report.

Teachers' union leaders attacked the recertification requirement as an insult to teachers and a potential bureaucratic nightmare.

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