But in the shower, it occurred to me that it's interesting to look at it from from the other side: instead of looking at what's banned, let's look at what's allowed.
Here's an English-language version of the visual aid that's been circulating.
Look at the "banned" items in the bottom row. Apart from the giant cross in the left-most picture, all these items have a practical and/or theological function. They all have the practical function of covering a part of the body that the wearer wants to be covered (with the possible exception of the yarmulke - I'm not clear on whether covering that part of the head is necessary, or whether it's the yarmulke itself that's necessary.) They all also have the theological function of being something the wearer needs to do to avoid going to hell, or whatever the equivalent in their religion is. (I have heard that the hijab per se is not necessary, just that covering the head is necessary. And I have heard that the hijab per se is necessary. So let's split the difference and say that some people believe it is theologically necessary.)
Now look at the "allowed" items. They're all small pieces of jewellery that display the wearer's religious affiliation. They have no theological function, and they have no practical function other than displaying the wearer's religious affiliation. They aren't a part of the actual practise of the wearer's religion, they aren't going to help send the wearer to heaven or prevent them from going to hell (or whatever the equivalent in their religion is). They are simply a gratuitous display.
If Quebec wants to create an image of secularism, the place to start is by eliminating gratuitous displays of religion that serve no purpose. Banning the functional while permitting the gratuitous eliminates all credibility.
Analogy: Suppose I have a car, and suppose you have a baby. We have an awesome, supportive friendship full of mutual assistance, which includes me lending you my car on those occasions when you need a car. But then one day I tell you "You aren't allowed to put your baby's carseat in my car. As you know, I am a Voluntary Human Extinctionist, and displaying the carseat would come across as promoting breeding." But, before you can even open your mouth to protest, I add, "But it's okay if you want to put your Baby On Board sticker on the car, because that's just small."
Update: I was so caught up in imagining how awful it would be to be forced to expose more of my body than I'm comfortable with in order to keep my job that I failed to notice two very important things pointed out in this article:
The Charte wouldn't (my emphasis):
1. Remove religious symbols and elements considered "emblematic of Quebec's cultural heritage." That includes: the crucifixes in the Quebec legislature and atop Mount Royal in Montreal, the thousands of religiously based geographic names (e.g. Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!) and the names of schools and hospitals.
[...]Yeah. So they're forbidding people to wear as much clothing as they'd like to in government buildings because it might be interpreted as a religious symbol, but they're allowing actual religious symbols actually on display in government buildings. They're forbidding individuals who happen to work for the government in one capacity to practise their own religion with their own body, but still permitting situations in which individuals who work for the government in another capacity are forced or coerced or pressured to participate in the collective practise of a religion to which they may or may not subscribe in order to do their jobs.
4. Ban opening prayers at municipal council meetings, which was recommended by the 2008 Bouchard-Taylor Commission report into cultural accommodation. The Quebec Court of Appeal ruled in May that such prayers do not necessarily violate Quebec's current human rights legislation.
So let's revisit the analogy. I own a car that I lend out to my friends in a spirit of mutual assistance, but I forbid people to put their children's carseats in my car because "displaying" the carseats would counter my stated Voluntary Human Extinctionist principles. However, I permit the "Baby On Board" sticker on the basis that it's small.
But now, with this new information, it comes to light that I have a gaudy, brightly-coloured children's playground in my front yard. Because, like, it's always been there.
Also, since I lend out my car to my friends so often, I'm gathering together a circle of friends to give me their input on the next car I purchase. However, if you want to be part of this circle, you have to donate gametes to help me in my attempt to conceive a child of my own.
But you still aren't allowed to put your baby's carseat in the car. Because that would promote breeding.
Not so very good for the credibility, is it?
Mme. Marois suggests that the Charte will unite Quebecers. I believe it will, against her. You don't win over the secularists by allowing gratuitous displays of religion in the name of secularism.