Register Monday | April 6 | 2020
Degrees of Freedom

Degrees of Freedom

Secularism supposedly only limits public life, but hundreds of thousands of Quebecers know it’s not that simple.

It was a glorious fall day, just warm enough that a light sweater could keep you comfortable. I was sitting in a cafe in my Montreal suburb with a novel, a croissant and a coffee. Two hours of freedom stretched before me until I needed to pick up my baby from daycare. I took a sip of my coffee and opened my book slowly, deliciously. 

Ten minutes later, I looked up to find an older lady coming toward me. She was maybe fifty, well put together in slacks and a shawl, expensive sunglasses propped on her coiffed hair. I smiled, and she smiled back before stopping in front of my table. 

“Beautiful day,” she started.

“Yes, absolutely,” I agreed. 

“Can I ask you a question?” 

“Sure,” I replied. The answer is always sure. I’ve been a minority my whole life; I’ve been wearing hijab since I was eleven ...

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