Muslim community urges for calm and rational discussion over niqab debate

March 3, 2010


Montreal, Quebec, March 2nd, 2010- The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) cautions against an unwarranted flaming of the reasonable accommodation debate, after a Muslim student was expelled for wearing a niqab. MCM calls for a calm and rational discussion on the issue, as a ruling from the Human Rights Commission is awaited to shed further light on the matter.
“It is unfortunate that the Minister of Immigration herself had to get involved in this issue,” said Salam Elmenyawi, president of MCM. “It would have been better for all parties if the issue was resolved by means of an evenhanded compromise between the student and the school administration, with mediation from the Human Rights Commission and the Muslim religious authorities.
MCM notes that the expulsion highlights a double loss, firstly on the part of the Muslim student who was denied the opportunity of learning the French language in order to fully integrate herself and become a fully engaged, productive member of society. Secondly, on part of the Quebec society, in failing to successfully reach out to all members of the society and help them integrate to the best of their ability and feel a sense of belonging in their new home, as opposed to feeling alienated.
“It is discouraging to see the same issues over reasonable accommodation being revisited time and time again, without us making any progress forward on this matter,” Elmenyawi said. “As the Bouchard-Taylor commission report on reasonable accommodation noted, the responsibility of integration and intercultural relation is upon all Quebecers.  There is no need to turn this issue into a hysterical circus of ‘us vs. them.’ We are all Quebecers and we are all committed to a prosperous, harmonious society and only by working together can we achieve this.”
Quebec Immigration Minister Yolande James authorized the expulsion of the woman, a permanent resident of Canada, from the government-sponsored French language class at Cégep St. Laurent, after she allegedly refused to remove her face covering. The Human Rights Commission will study the case in the coming months. 




Salam Elmenyawi

Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM)

Ph.: (514) 748-8427

Fax: (514) 747-9139




The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) is an umbrella organization representing a number of Islamic institutions in the Montreal region. There are over 200,000 Muslims in Montreal, about 900,000 in Canada and 1.7 billion worldwide.