QUEBEC-A Quebec education minister is being criticised for posting a photo with education campaigner Malala Yousafzai.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, who wears a headscarf, would not be able to teach in the Canadian province.

Quebec recently passed a controversial law barring some civil servants, including teachers, from wearing religious symbols at work.

Jean-François Roberge said he discussed access to education and international development with Ms Yousafzai.

She was shot in the head by Taliban militants in 2012 for daring to go to school and has since been recognised internationally for her work campaigning for girls’ education.

In June, Quebec passed secularism legislation that prevents civil servants in positions of “authority” from wearing symbols like such as the kippah, turban or hijab while at work.

The Coalition Avenir Quebec’s (CAQ) bill covers judges, police officers, teachers and some other public figures. The secularism bill sparked protests and much debate in the province. Supporters say the law is a reasonable step towards enshrining the separation of Church and state in Quebec.

While the legislation does not single out any specific religion, critics argue it is discriminatory and say it unfairly targets Muslim women in the province who wear hijabs or other head-coverings.

Some online commentators called the minister a hypocrite for posing with Ms Yousafzai.

Mr Roberge, who met Ms Yousafzai while he was in France, defended the law when asked on Twitter by journalist Salim Nadim Valji how he would respond if Ms Yousafzai wanted to teach in Quebec.

“I would certainly tell her that it would be an immense honour and that in Quebec, as is the case in France (where we are now) and in other open and tolerant countries, teachers cannot wear religious symbols in performing their duties,” he said.