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Canadian Party Leaders Asked to Clarify Hijab Policy

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR-CAN) today called on all national party leaders to clarify
their position on accommodating the right of Muslim women to wear the
hijab, or Islamic headscarf.

That request came after two Muslim women told CAIR-CAN that Canadian
immigration officials at Montreal’s Dorval airport ordered them to remove
their religiously-mandated head scarves for permanent resident card
photographs. CAIR-CAN also learned of two other women who were similarly
asked to remove their head scarves at Dorval airport.

In a letter sent yesterday to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration,
Judy Sgro, CAIR-CAN asked that an immediate apology be offered to the
Muslim women, that Canada’s policy on religious accommodation for permanent
resident cards be clarified and disseminated to officials at Dorval airport
and that immediate arrangements be made for the women to be re-photographed.

In letters to Prime Minister Paul Martin, Stephen Harper and Jack Layton
asking for clarification of their position on this matter, CAIR-CAN wrote:

“These cases raise the worrying concern of a systemic policy of
discrimination against women immigrants who wear the hijab.

“As you may well know, many Muslim women choose to cover their hair and
ears in fulfillment of an Islamic requirement of modesty. For many, it is
an important spiritual act and an integral part of their identity. Many of
the women, who entered Canada for the first time, were shocked and
profoundly hurt when they were told to remove their hijab, either
completely or partially.

“We are deeply concerned about the implications of this lack of religious
accommodation for other Muslim immigrants. We are calling on you to clarify
your party’s position regarding this issue and to affirm your commitment to
the values of equality, respect and fundamental human rights.”

There are approximately 600 000 Canadian Muslims.

CONTACT: Riad Saloojee at 613-254-9704, 613-795-2012;

Council on American-Islamic Relations CANADA
P.O. Box 13219, Ottawa, ONT, K2K 1X4
Tel: 1-866-524-0004
Fax: 613-254-9810


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