Judge ‘deeply regrets’ woman’s treatment over hijab
A Quebec justice has ruled there was no legal basis for a lower court judge to ask a woman to remove her head covering in order for her case to proceed. Rania El-Alloul was in court in February 2015 over an issue involving the government’s automobile insurance board and the impounding of her vehicle.
Judge compared hijab to a hat and sunglasses
At the time, Quebec court Judge Eliana Marengo told her the court was a secular space and compared the head scarf to a hat and sunglasses which are not allowed to be worn in court. Marengo refused to hear the case unless El-Alloul removed her hijab. Several human rights groups and politicians criticized that decision.
El-Alloul then sought a legal opinion to clarify the right of Quebecers to wear religious attire in court. In his decision, Superior Court Justice Wilbrod Decarie strongly criticized the lower court ruling saying it went against the principles of Canadian law which protects freedom of religion.
Judge ‘deeply regrets’ treatment
“The court sympathizes with Ms. El-Alloul and deeply regrets how she was treated,” wrote Justice Décarie in his decision released this week. Although he expressed these views, he stopped short of ruling that women should be able to wear hijabs in court in future. He said that was beyond his jurisdiction.
El-Alloul’s lawyers are reviewing the decision to see whether there is further legal action they might take. Meanwhile, El-Alloul appears to feel vindicated by the decision. In a statement she said, “”It was important for me to hear another judge agree that it was wrong and should not have happened. I continue to hope that no one will ever be treated like I was.”