Hijabs in private schools supported - Montreal Gazette, Canada
- Hijabs in private schools supported
Rights commission to issue legal opinion
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
A majority of private schools have a duty to
reasonably accommodate their students' religious
beliefs, says a legal opinion to be made public today
by the Quebec Human Rights Commission.
The opinion, The Gazette has learned, supports the
right of Muslim girls to wear hijabs at non-profit
private schools - a demand that's sparked controversy
in the past.
In fall 2003, a Muslim student at College Charlemagne
in Pierrefonds left the private high school after
administrators wouldn't let her wear her religious
headscarf to class.
The case of Grade 11 student Irene Waseem became a
cause celebre for Muslim activists when her family
filed a complaint with the commission.
When the family dropped the complaint a year later,
the commission backed away from publicly taking a
stance on religious accommodation in private schools -
The opinion, titled "Reflections on the scope and
limits of the duty of reasonable accommodation in the
field of religion," comes a decade after a similar
legal analysis was prepared by the commission for
In 1995, the commission said public schools must
"reasonably accommodate" their students' religious
practices, for example by letting them wear hijabs or
But the question remained: did private schools have an
The question has become especially pertinent in recent
years with private schools taking in more and more
students from different cultural backgrounds.
Yet some private schools still forbid religious
headgear as a violation of their dress code.
A commission spokesperson wouldn't discuss the opinion
until it is made public today.
Still, the spirit of the opinion is consistent with an
internal report by the commission in 2004. In that
report, the commission said not-for-profit private
schools weren't exempt from the legal notion of
"reasonable accommodation" of religious practices.
Salam Elmenyawi, chairperson of the Muslim Council of
Montreal, said he expected the commission to uphold
the conclusion in its 2004 report. But Elmenyawi
questioned why the review took almost two years.
He said he knows of a handful of cases in Montreal in
which girls are being denied permission to wear the
hijab to class.
"Many of our daughters have been suffering, waiting
for a decision from the human rights commission," he
said. "This decision will affect many girls."
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2005
Wise decision on right to wear hijabs
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Click here to find out more!
It took a little longer than it should have, but the
Quebec Human Rights Commission has finally done right
by Irene Waseem and, indeed, by all devout young
Muslim girls who go to private schools. The commission
concluded this week that College Charlemagne was wrong
to forbid Waseem to wear her hijab to class when she
was a student at the Pierrefonds high school two years
The college's private status is irrelevant, commission
president Pierre Marois wrote in an opinion made
public this week. Private, not-for-profit schools have
the same obligation as public schools to make
reasonable accommodation for their students' religious
More about Hijab at:
Yahoo! Messenger - NEW crystal clear PC to PC calling worldwide with voicemail http://uk.messenger.yahoo.com