Ottawa, 9 Jumadil Awwal 1436/28 February 2015 (MINA) – A Canadian Muslim citizen was denied her right to litigate before a Montreal court after the judge said she had to take off her Islamic head outfit or she would not hear her case.
“I felt that I’m not Canadian anymore,” Rania El-Alloul told CBC News on Thursday (26/2) as quoted by On Islam and Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).
El-Alloul appeared in a Quebec court last Tuesday to apply to get her car back after it was seized by Quebec’s automobile insurance board, the SAAQ. Her car was seized after police stopped El-Alloul’s son for driving with a suspended license. Trying to release the car, she applied at a Court of Quebec judge to make a request.
At Quebec court on Tuesday afternoon, Judge Eliana Marengo told El-Alloul that the that she was not suitably dressed, to fit the secular nature of the courtroom. “Hats and sunglasses for example, are not allowed. And I don’t see why scarves on the head would be either,” Marengo says in a recording obtained by CBC News.
“The same rules need to be applied to everyone. I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing a scarf on your head, just as I would not allow a person to appear before me wearing a hat or sunglasses on his or her head, or any other garment not suitable for a court proceeding.”
She told El-Alloul she had a choice: remove her headscarf immediately or apply for a postponement in order to consult a lawyer. As El-Alloul said she couldn’t afford a lawyer and that she didn’t want to postpone the case, Marengo adjourned the case indefinitely. “When I came the first day when I made landing in Canada, I was wearing my hijab,” El-Alloul recalled.
“When I swore by God to be a good Canadian citizen I was wearing my hijab, and the judge, I shook hands with him the same day I became Canadian. I was really very happy.
“But what happened in court made me feel afraid. I felt that I’m not Canadian anymore.”
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada. Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade – from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2011. Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population. (T/P011/R04)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)