A Muslim woman in Quebec has been kicked out of a language course for the second time because of her refusal to remove a religiously-understood face covering. The Egyptian immigrant made headlines when it was revealed provincial Immigration Department officials expelled her from a government-sponsored French class several months ago after she refused to take off her niqab. Known only as Naema in Quebec media, she had since enrolled in another government-sponsored French class, this time at a community centre for immigrants in Montreal.
But almost as soon as the Quebec government got word she was attending class in her niqab, it confronted her again, forcing her to make the same decision she made in November 2009. “It is a copy and paste of what happened last week,” said Samer Majzoub, who heads the Canadian Muslim Forum, a non-profit organization that has been providing support for Naema.
Quebec Immigration Minister Yolande James appeared to move quickly in addressing the latest contribution to the province’s ongoing debate over the accommodation of religious and ethnic minorities. Some commentators have argued Naema had been unreasonable in her demands, which reportedly included giving oral presentations with her back facing the co-ed class. She had been enrolled in the part-time course for around 45 days and had yet to hear of any complaints from her teachers, Majzoub said.
Her expulsion from the college French course in November is the subject of a complaint the woman filed with the Quebec human rights commission.
Industrial designer Elham Seyed Javad has taken up the cause begun in 2007 when a Muslim girl was barred from a soccer match for wearing a hijab. Then, five Muslim girls were ejected from a tae kwon do tournament for the same reason. “I was so distressed when I learned about it,” Seyed Javad said. “Your beliefs shouldn’t prevent you from playing sports.” So, the 26-year-old University of Montreal graduate designed a sleek sports hijab, which fits tightly around the head and is part of a sports shirt underneath.
Seyed Javad, who is Muslim but doesn’t wear a hijab herself, emphasizes that her “Resport” is more than a hijab. It can be used by anyone, male or female, who needs to keep their hair in check during their activities. They were tested by some Muslim athletes at a martial arts tournament last weekend and passed with flying colours, Seyed Javad said. The problem of headscarves in sports is that sometimes the ends come untucked, even though athletes try to pin them inside a shirt.
Tarek Fatah claims that Montrealers will be treated to “a spectacle of Islamist double-speak that will leave them dazzled.” Fatah claims that Ramadan’s position on Shari’a law in particular has been especially changing depending on his audience. Ramadan spoke at the University of Montreal and will participate in the American Academy of Religion meetings.
A Mosque in Dorval, in Montreal’s West Island, has been vandalized for the fourth time this year. The mosque’s doors were spray painted with the words “Koran 511” in orange graffiti.
In June 2008 and April 2009, the same mosque, the Turkish Muslim Association of Montreal mosque in Dorval, was vandalized in a similar manner, with similar messages. In all of instances, the mosque was spray painted with the word “Koran 511”, which references verses of the Quran that are often taken out of their historical context and misinterpreted as implying that Islam teaches Muslims to wage wars against non-Muslims.
Police identified 19-year-old Zainab Shafia, 17-year-old Sahar Shafia and 13-year-old Geeti Shafia as the sisters who were found in the vehicle submerged in the Rideau Canal near Kingston, Ontario. The body of their aunt, Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, was also retrieved from the vehicle. All four victims were from St-Leonard, a borough in Montreal.
Ms. Yahya, her 56-year-old husband Mohammad Shafia and their 18-year-old son, Hamed, are charged with four counts each of first-degree murder and four of conspiracy to commit murder in the June 30 deaths of their daughters and sisters and Mr. Shafia’s first wife, Rona Mohammad, whom he had been passing off for decades as his “cousin.”
One of the teenage girls allegedly killed by members of her Afghan-born family had been dating a Pakistani boy in Montreal against her parents’ wishes, according to a man and woman who say they are siblings of one of the victims. This allegation has spurred interpretations that the incident may be related to “honor” killings. The head of the Canadian branch of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) told news agencies that the story was unrelated to Islam. Other journalists have pointed to the dozen women who have died similarly in the last decade. Amin Muhammad, a psychiatrist who studies honour killings at Memorial University claims, “There are a number of organizations which don’t accept the idea of honor killing; they say it’s a Western-propagated myth by the media, but it’s not true,” he says. “Honor killing is there, and we should acknowledge it, and Canada should take it seriously.”
Abousfian Abdelrazik ended six years in exile in Sudan, where he faced torture at the hands of Sudanese authorities, several thwarted attempts to return and spent over a year stranded at the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. Mr. Abdelrazik was born in Sudan but fled the country in 1990. He received refugee status in Canada in 1992 and Canadian citizenship in 1995. In 2003, Mr. Abdelrazik traveled back to the country to visit his ailing mother. He was repeatedly imprisoned by Sudanese authorities and tried to return to Canada several times but was denied a passport because he was put on a United Nations no-fly list at the request of the United States.
Both CSIS and the RCMP have said publicly that they have no evidence that Mr. Abdelrazik has been involved in terrorist activities.
By Ian Austen MONTREAL – Viewed separately, the incidents seemed relatively insignificant. Members of a Hasidic synagogue here wanted a neighboring Y.M.C.A. to block or tint the windows of an exercise room used by women. A Muslim girl was barred from playing soccer for wearing a hijab on the field. And, in Quebec, some Muslims and Orthodox Jews refused to deal with police officers and physicians of the opposite sex. Then came the decision in late January by H_rouxville, Quebec – a town of French-speaking Catholics – to create a code of conduct for immigrants that prohibited, among other things, the covering of women’s faces except for on Halloween and the use of public stoning as a form of punishment. This despite the fact that there are no Muslims in the town and no modern history of stonings.