Quebec judge denies woman hearing until hijab removed: CBC

Thu Feb 26, 2015 9:51pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - A Quebec judge told a Muslim woman appearing in a Montreal courtroom she would not hear her case until she removed her head scarf, CBC news reported on Thursday.

The broadcaster, citing an audio recording it obtained of the proceedings, said Judge Eliana Marengo was heard telling Rania El-Alloul on Tuesday that the courtroom is a secular place, and that she was not suitably dressed.

"Hats and sunglasses for example, are not allowed. And I don't see why scarves on the head would be either," Marengo says in the recording.

Reuters was not able to authenticate the recording. Quebec's Ministry of Justice did not immediately respond after business hours to a request for comment on the case. Judge Marengo could not be reached for comment.

El-Alloul was in court to apply to get her car back after it was seized by Quebec's automobile insurance board, CBC said.

It said the car was seized after police stopped El-Alloul's son for driving with a suspended license and the board was set to keep the car for a month. El-Alloul was asking the court to return it sooner.

The public display of religious symbols has been hotly debated in the predominantly French-speaking Canadian province in recent years.

In 2013, the pro-independence Parti Quebecois (PQ) government moved to ban public servants from wearing Muslim head coverings such as hijabs, Jewish skullcaps or other obvious religious symbols. But the bill died when the PQ was defeated in a provincial election last year.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)