A Canadian Islamic advocacy group wants federal Immigration Minister Judy Sgro to apologize for the treatment of several Muslim women at Montreal's Trudeau Airport.
At least four Muslim women immigrating to Canada were told they had to remove their hijabs to have a photograph taken for their permanent residency card, even though the cloth covered only their hair and ears, leaving faces plainly visible.
"I was really very annoyed and I came out in tears," said Reem al-Salus, who moved to Ottawa from Jordan a few weeks ago after marrying a Canadian abroad. "The hijab for me is an act of choice. It's an act of devotion. It's not just a custom that I can take off."
Canada's Council on American-Islamic Relations said the head covering has never been an issue before.
"It appears that the rules have been re-interpreted or new rules issued," said executive director Riad Saloojee. "So people are now being asked to take it off entirely or partially."
But the federal government says nothing has changed. Immigration Canada says hijabs don't have to be removed and the department will look into the allegation.
Saloojee has asked Sgro to clarify the Canadian law and is calling on party leaders to express their views on the issue during the election campaign.