Quebec judge had no legal basis for asking woman to remove hijab, higher court says
Superior Court ‘deeply regrets’ treatment of Rania El-Alloul by lower court Judge Eliana Marengo
By Steve Rukavina
CBC News | October 6, 2016
A Quebec Superior Court justice has strongly criticized a lower court judge’s insistence that a Montreal woman, Rania El-Alloul, remove her hijab in order to have her case heard in court.
“The court sympathizes with Ms. El-Alloul and deeply regrets how she was treated,” wrote Justice Wilbrod Décarie in a decision released this week.
The remarks represent a rebuke of controversial comments made last year by Quebec Court Judge Eliana Marengo.
During a hearing in February 2015, Marengo told El-Alloul she would not hear her case unless she removed her hijab.
Marengo contended the courtroom was a secular space and compared the hijab to a hat and sunglasses, which would not normally be allowed in a courtroom.
Décarie, however, said that argument had already been rejected by the Supreme Court of Canada.
“Indeed, the thesis adopted by Judge Marengo that a courtroom is a secular space where the religious beliefs of a person have no right to be cited has no force of law in Canada,” Décarie wrote.
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El-Alloul responded to Décarie’s decision in a statement released Thursday by the National Council of Canadian Muslims, which is supporting her.
“It was important for me to hear another judge agree that it was wrong and should not have happened,” El-Alloul said. “I continue to hope that no one will ever be treated like I was.”