SHAFAQNA –A Canadian judge in the Quebec province has refused to hear the court case of a Muslim woman unless she removes her headscarf or hijab. Judge Eliana Marengo in the Quebec city of Montreal was heard on a recording of the proceedings telling Rania el-Alloul to either remove her headscarf immediately or apply for a postponement in order to consult a lawyer.
Marengo said in the recording that “hats and sunglasses for example, are not allowed. And I don’t see why scarves on the head would be either,” adding, “I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing a scarf on your head.”
The judge then adjourned the case indefinitely after Alloul replied that she could not afford a lawyer and that she did not want to postpone the case.
The single mother was in court to ask for receiving her car back after it was seized by Quebec’s automobile insurance board. The vehicle was seized after authorities stopped Alloul’s son for driving with a suspended license.
Following the court incident Alloul spoke to Canadian media saying she was in disbelief and she now felt afraid.
“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,” said El-Alloul.
In addition, Alloul said when Marengo told her to remove her hijab she felt as if she was not being treated as a human being.
“When she insisted I should remove my hijab, really I felt like she was talking with me as … not a human being,” said Alloul adding, I don’t want this thing to happen to any other lady. This is not the work of a judge. She doesn’t deserve to be a judge.”
Alloul also said she is considering filing a formal complaint against the judge.
Meanwhile, Marengo did not respond to media requests for comments over the incident.
Under Canadian law it is not unlawful to wear a hijab in court, legislation only states that those attending in court should be suitably dressed.
The incident comes as Canada is one of the western countries where Islamophobia is said to be on the rise.
In 2013, the Parti Quebecois (PQ) government pushed civil servants to be banned from wearing head coverings including hijabs, Jewish kippas and other obvious religious symbols. The bill, however, died after the PQ lost a provincial election the following year.