Prime Minister Paul Martin doesn’t want Muslim women arriving at Pierre
Trudeau International Airport in Dorval to be required to remove their
headscarves as they pass through security.
Four Muslim women complained this summer after they were told to take off
their hijabs so pictures of them could be taken for their
Martin wants the practice stopped, saying an Islamic woman’s right to wear
the hijab must be respected.
Immigration is in part a Quebec jurisdiction, however, and it remains to be
seen whether his instructions will be carried out.
Immigration Quebec was not available for comment yesterday.
In each of the four cases, Quebec immigration officials at the airport
insisted the hijab had to come off so all facial features could be seen.
The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations accused the immigration
authorities of being overzealous.
The prime minister agreed.
In a July 23 letter to the council, Martin said allowances should be made
for “practitioners of religious faiths that prohibit the removal of head
coverings. Immigration Canada does not require the head covering to be
completely removed, but for security purposes, all facial features must be
visible for the photographs.”
Ears and hair are not considered facial features.
According to Islamic belief, the hijab is removed only among family and
other women; being seen without it in a photograph violates that rule.
“There have always been isolated instances, but nothing in a similar
pattern,” Riad Saloojee, the council’s executive director, said yesterday.
“The string of cases was troublesome. We have not had any complaints from
any other airport in Canada but Trudeau”¦