Muslim Council of Montreal dismayed by discrimination at Tae Kwon Do tournament in Quebec

April 15, 2007

Montreal, Quebec, April 15, 2007- The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) expressed its dismay today after a Muslim’s girls Tae Kwon Do team was banned from participating in at an annual Tae Kwon Do tournament in Quebec. The Muslim girls were not allowed to play because of their hijab.

“It is sad that we are back to exactly where we were months ago, when a Muslim girl was barred from playing soccer because of her hijab,” stated Salam Elmenyawi, president of MCM. “If this was indeed an issue of safety for the team, then it should have been addressed adequately. If their hijabs were not suitable for athletic play, then they should have been informed of what changes were needed in their dress. Banning them from playing altogether because of their religious clothing is discriminating and only seems to push Quebec backward.”

MCM states that when 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.

“These girls have participated in tournaments in Quebec before and never faced any danger due to their dress. In fact, some of the girls have even won top medals in previous championships. They uphold professional standards of sport and play. To suggest that they have no concern for safety in the game is an insult to their whole team.”

MCM calls on Mr. Jean Faucher, president of the Quebec Tae Kwon Do Federation to allow the girls to participate in provincial tournaments wearing their religious headgear.

The Tae Kwon Do team, consisting of girls 8 and 12 years old, is affiliated with the Montreal Muslim Community Centre.