THE World Sikh Organization of Canada said Friday it is stunned by the refusal of a Quebec judge to hear the case of a hijab-wearing Muslim woman, Rania El-Alloul, in Montreal. Court of Quebec Judge Eliana Marengo said that the hijab was “inappropriate” because the courtroom is a “secular place”.
WSO President, Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill said” “The issue of religious head coverings has long been decided in Canada. It would appear that Judge Marengo is ignoring both Quebec and Canadian law, which quite clearly protects freedom of religion. The wearing of a hijab, turban, kippah or of a crucifix for that matter, does not in any way impact the secular nature of a courtroom. This is not only a human rights and constitutional matter, but one of access to justice that must be resolved immediately and could potentially have a negative impact on Canadians of other faiths as well. This is a stunningly wrong decision that must be corrected.”
Marengo told El-Alloul inside a Montreal courtroom she had to remove her hijab before the court would hear her case against the province’s automobile insurance board, which had seized her vehicle, reported Canadian Press.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the judge’s decision was disrespectful, troubling, and a violation of El-Alloul’s fundamental right to freedom of religion.
Even Prime Minister Stephen Harper disagreed with the judge, with his spokesperson Stephen Lecce stating: “If someone is not covering their face, we believe they should be allowed to testify.”