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. »