Press Releases

Canadian Muslim Girls Banned from Karate Tournament Over Hijab

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


CAIR-CAN says ‘fixation’ on Islamic attire in Quebec marginalizing Muslim women and girls

(OTTAWA, CANADA, APRIL 15, 2007) – The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) said today that the decision to ban Muslim girls wearing Islamic head scarves from a karate tournament in Quebec will only serve to marginalize Muslim women by forcing them to choose between their faith and athletic activities.

In Longueuil, Quebec, five girls were today barred from taking part in a taekwondo tournament because they wished to wear the hijab, or Islamic head scarf. Organizers in Quebec’s taekwondo federation said the sport’s rules prevent women from competing in hijab. However, for more than five years, youth wearing hijab have taken part in the province’s tournament. Additionally, women in hijab compete internationally on a regular basis and both men and women compete in padded headgear.

In a statement, CAIR-CAN spokeswoman Sarah Elgazzar said:

“It’s odd how the same Quebec taekwondo federation that has seen youth in hijab compete for five years is now claiming that Muslim women in hijab are banned. This recent fixation on hijab is only serving to marginalize Muslim women who wish to participate in athletic activity.

“With Azzy Mansour being kicked off a Quebec soccer field for wearing the hijab, and five girls today being ejected from the Longueuil taekwondo tournament, it seems that Muslim women now have to make a choice between their faith and sport.”

In a similar case in February, 11-year-old Azzy Mansour was ejected from a Quebec soccer tournament. In response her team walked out the tournament in solidarity.

SEE: CAIR-CAN Applauds Support for Muslim Soccer Player

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CONTACT: Sarah Elgazzar, CAIR-CAN Spokesperson at 514.776.6566; Sameer Zuberi, CAIR-CAN Communications Coordinator at 613.795.2012; or Karl Nickner, CAIR-CAN Executive Director at 613.254.9704 or 613.853.4111
Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations
P.O. Box 13219, Ottawa, ONT, K2K 1X4
(T) 1.866.524.0004
(F) 613.254.9810
Council on American-Islamic Relations
453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
Tel: 202-488-8787, 202-744-7726
Fax: 202-488-0833
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