Complaint Lodged against No-Hijab-in-Court Ruling

Complaint Lodged against No-Hijab-in-Court Ruling

Montreal (Quebec) 1 March 2015 – Last Tuesday, Raina El-Allouli showed up to court for what should have been an unremarkable hearing.  Her son had borrowed her car, and was pulled over for a traffic violation, and when police realised his driver’s licence was suspended, they impounded the car.  Ms. El-Allouli’s hearing was to allow her to regain possession of her car from the SAAQ lot.

However, upon showing up to the courtroom, Judge Eliana Marengo asked her to remove her hijab.  When Ms. El-Allouli refused, she was asked to leave and the case was not heard… and controversy ensued.

The heart of the matter is apparently whether or not Justice Marengo was correct in declaring that Ms. El-Allouli’s attire was inappropriate for a courtroom.  In giving her reasons, Justice Marengo cited that courtrooms are secular spaces and therefore Ms. El-Allouli’s attire was akin to “hats and sunglasses”, which are generally not considered appropriate dress for a courtroom.  Ms. El-Allouli, however, felt devastated by the decision.

While courtroom rules do require that all persons be “properly dressed”, there are no indications of what exactly this means and judges apply the rule according to their interpretation.  Ms. El-Allouli’s hijab covers her hair, but leaves her face unobstructed and identifiable.

Since last Tuesday, Ms. El-Allouli has received over 20,000$ in crowd-funded support from all over Canada – more than the value of her impounded car itself.  Ms. El-Allouli has also filed a formal complaint against the judge’s decision.  The story continues to draw criticism and controversy.

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