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Rania El-Alloul. Photo credit: Reuters

Support pours in for veiled Quebec Muslim

Rania El-Alloul. Photo credit: Reuters

Rania El-Alloul. Photo credit: Reuters

OnIslam & News Agencies

MONTREAL – Reacting to reports that a Canadian Muslim citizen was refused litigation right to restore her car for donning Islamic headscarf, a crowdfunding support campaign has raised more than $20K to pay for court fees and buy her another car.

“I am receiving support from everywhere, because I know I said the truth,” Rania El-Alloul in a phone interview from her home in Montreal with CBC on Saturday, February 28.

“The headscarf is my choice and my faith.”

El-Alloul appeared in a Quebec court last Tuesday to apply to get her car back after it was seized by Quebec’s automobile insurance board, the SAAQ.

Her car was seized after police stopped El-Alloul’s son for driving with a suspended license.

Trying to release the car, she applied at a Court of Quebec judge to make a request.

At Quebec court on Tuesday afternoon, Judge Eliana Marengo told El-Alloul that the that she was not suitably dressed, to fit the secular nature of the courtroom.

She told El-Alloul she had a choice: remove her headscarf immediately or apply for a postponement in order to consult a lawyer.

Annoyed by the reports, Nouman Ahmad, along with his friend Rayan Rafay, launched a campaign to raise money to help her buy a car.

With no experience in crowdfunding before, they were were pleasantly surprised when their campaign spread rapidly over social media, receiving 400 donations which surpassed their goal of $20,000 in just over 24 hours.

“For someone to be denied justice in a court because they were wearing a hijab is just very strange for a place like Canada,” Ahmad said.

“This is not the opinion of most Canadians we know.”

Exceeding his target, Ahmad plans to keep the fund open, with additional donations going toward El-Alloul’s legal fees.

He hopes to fly to Montreal to present her with the cheque in person.

Condemnations

The judge’s decision has drawn widespread condemnation from citizens, politicians and civil rights groups across the country.

“The headscarf is my choice and my faith,” El-Alloul said.

A spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s office said Friday that a “if someone is not covering their face, we believe they should be allowed to testify.”

Meanwhile, another gofundme campaign for legal fees has been started by a former Vancouver resident who now lives in California.

In spite of huge support, angry responses have been pouring on the gofundme site.

As her court case was suspended indefinitely after she refused to remove her scarf, El-Alloul says she feels afraid.

“If you want to speak to a judge in the court and the judge herself is not listening to you … I felt afraid,” she said.

Nevertheless, she was decided on filing a complaint against the judge.

“The most important is to get respect,” she said.

“I gave her respect. She didn’t give me my respect. I don’t want this thing to happen to anybody else.”

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.

Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade – from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2011.

Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population.

 

Canada Drops Plans to Ban Veiled Voting

CBC News

Canada_flag The federal government has no plans to move forward with proposed legislation to force veiled women to show their faces when voting, the minister of state for democratic reform said Thursday.

“We have other priorities as far as increasing voter participation and with the expanded voting opportunities legislation,” Steven Fletcher said in an interview.
“And that is our focus. That obviously will affect a lot more people.”

Dmitri Soudas, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, confirmed the government still supports the idea of forcing voters to reveal their faces, but said the bill doesn’t have opposition support.

“The bottom line is even if we were to proceed with legislation, it would be voted down immediately,” Soudas said.

The government introduced the bill in October 2007, a month after an Elections Canada ruling allowed Muslim women to vote with their faces covered by burkas or niqabs during three Quebec by elections.

That decision infuriated the government, and Harper accused Elections Canada of subverting the will of Parliament, which several months earlier had unanimously adopted legislation beefing up voter identification requirements.

“I profoundly disagree with the decision,” Harper said at the time. “The role of Elections Canada is not to make its own laws, it’s to put into place the laws that Parliament has passed.”

The government’s proposed amendment to the Canada Elections Act would have made a limited exception for any voter whose face is swathed in bandages due to surgery or some other medical reason. It also would have given some flexibility to Elections Canada officials to administer the law in a manner respectful of religious beliefs.

Opposition parties initially supported the proposed legislation, but later backed off when the issue was more closely examined.

Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand noted that the beefed-up ID requirements passed by Parliament in 2007 did not, in fact, authorize the agency to compel visual identification of voters.

Moreover, it was pointed out that thousands of Canadians have no photo ID. Requiring them to show their faces would be meaningless without photo identification against which to verify their identities.

The Elections Act gives voters three ways to prove their identification in order to cast a ballot: provide a government photo ID; provide two pieces of approved ID, at least one of which must state their address (but neither of which must contain a photo); or have another voter registered in the same district vouch for them.

The federal government’s decision comes days after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said full-body gowns that are worn by the most conservative Muslim women have no place in France.

Sarkozy said wearing the burka or the niqab isn’t about religion, but the subjugation of women.

“In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” Sarkozy said to extended applause in a speech Monday.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press

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