Canada Judge Refused to Hear Case Until Muslim Woman Removed Hijab: Report

A Canadian judge in Quebec refused to begin hearings in a case until a Muslim woman appearing in the Montreal courtroom removed her head scarf or Hijab, reported CBC news.

The TV channel aired an audio recording of the proceedings which said Judge Eliana Marengo was heard asking a mother of 3 kids Rania El-Alloul on Tuesday to remove her hijab that covers her face.

When the complainant pleaded that she is on welfare and facing money problems the judge rudely quoted a regulation of the court decorum that states, “Any person appearing before the court must be suitably dressed.” However, the regulation did not restrain the judge from taking up a case that involved humnitarian angle.

In the case of the woman, she knocked at the door of the justice seeking the court intervention to get her car back after it was seized by Quebec’s automobile insurance board, on the ground that her son with suspended license was driving the vehicle.

Refusing to take up the case for hearing, the decorum prevailed on the judge who said, “In my opinion, you are not suitably dressed. Decorum is important. Hats and sunglasses, for example, are not allowed, and I don’t see why scarves on the head would be. The same rules need to be applied to everyone.”

Canada, though an immigrant-based country, is facing the issue over hijab or head gear for some time like many European countries including France. Quebec, a predominantly French-speaking Canadian province, is also replete with similar anti-scarf sentiments as their ancient lineage proved.

In 2013, the pro-independence Parti Quebecois (PQ) government tried to impose ban on public servants from wearing Muslim head scraf hijabs, Jewish skullcaps or Sikh turbans as they are religious symbols but the bill died when the party lost elections next year.

In 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada established a framework to be applied case by case to determine whether a witness could wear a niqab in court or not and in the case the cuprit was not the woman but her son and the case involved a minor case of insurance-related seizure of a car.

Criticising the judge’s stand, Sameer Zuberi, a board member with the Canadian Muslim Forum, said this was the first such instance a woman has been ordered to remove a hijab, without any connection to the case or witness revelation. “I think it’s a clear error that the judge made, in my personal opinion,” he said.

“I think that there’s been a long history in Quebec and Canada of people wearing religious headgear who are defending themselves in court, who are bringing cases in court, who are lawyers themselves,” he told the Canadian media.

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