Let Muslim women keep hijabs on
PM: AT airport security checkpoints. Immigration officials insist that headgear come off so all facial features are visible
Saturday, August 14, 2004
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 pff their hijabs so pictures of them could be taken for their permanent-residency cards.
Martin wants the practice stopped, saying an Islamic woman's right to 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."
Saloojee said the prime minister's letter is welcome because it eliminates all ambiguity about the federal government's policy.
"We will go back to Immigration Quebec to make sure they carry out the policy," Saloojee said.
He said the council also wants a formal apology for the women.
"We will continue to press for a full apology," he said. "In all cases it was their first foray into Canada, and in all cases it was traumatic for them. We expect an apology. It's only fair."
Last edited by Badreya on Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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