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.
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.