MUSLIM LEADER CALLED ON THE QUEBEC HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION TO EXPLAIN INTERNAL CONFLICT ON THE HIJAB PROHIBITION IN PRIVATE SCHOOLSDecember 8, 2004
The Muslim Council of Montreal is calling on the president and all commissioners of the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to publicly tell Muslim and other Quebecers about the real situation with the Commission's internal conflict on the hijab prohibition in private schools.
Press reports reveal that the Commission’s Communications Director Ginette L'Heureux was sanctioned and removed from the hijab files as a result of her disagreement with Commission Chair Pierre Marois over the fact that the Commission should not take a more global position on the issue. The Commission has chosen last month not to adopt a policy position, preferring instead a case-by-case investigation approach. Ms. L'Heureux has filed a complaint of psychological harassment complaint against Mr. Marois.
According to Mr. Salam Elmenyawi, Chair of the Muslim Council of Montreal, news reports of this conflict reveal a very disturbing picture over how the Commission is handling the hijab issue. “There are legitimate questions as to whether Ms. L'Heureux has been sanctioned for having objected to the Commission not taking a position. If this is the case, then are we to assume that she has been silenced on this issue?” he said.
Mr. Elmenyawi calls upon Commissioners, all of whom are appointed by the National Assembly, to be accountable and shed light on the situation. Failure to do so will lead Muslim and other Quebecers to see the Commission as being biased and not carrying its mandate properly, and to lose confidence in the Commission's ability to promote Charter of rights and freedoms in Quebec.