Muslim Council of Montreal commends young soccer players for their wisdom and respect of teammate’s right to play

February 26, 2007

Montreal, Quebec, Feb. 26th, 2007 - The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) praised the Nepean Hotspurs Selects and the other four soccer teams for supporting Asmahan Mansour's right to wear a headscarf while playing in the ARS Laval National soccer tournament.

“It is disappointing that Mr. Charest failed to address the issue properly and sided with the decision of the referee,” stated Salam Elmenyawi, president of MCM. “It seems that he can learn a lesson about respect and tolerance by meeting with the wise and courageous young girls who protested against the discriminatory decision by boycotting the tournament.”

MCM notes that the Ontario Soccer Association permits players to wear religious clothing on the field and urges the Quebec Soccer Federal to prudently investigate the matter and respect the religious rights and needs of its players.

“How can the rules be so different in the neighbouring provinces? If soccer players in Ontario have their religious rights and freedoms protected, how we subject players in Quebec to such discriminatory and racist rules? Incidents such as this only serve to tarnish the reputation of Quebec and give victory to xenophobes and racists,” Elmenyawi said.

“We call on all Quebecois to speak out against the voices of intolerance and racism that seek to create discord in our society. Asking minority groups to integrate cannot be equated with forcing them to assimilate and striping them of their identity and rights.”

MCM states that if worn properly, there is no reason for a player’s headscarf to pose any danger to herself or to other players. Different varieties of the hijab exist, including a line of “Sports hijabs”, specially designed to provide safety and comfort during athletic play and sport.