Muslim Girl Sparks Canada Hijab Dispute

February 27, 2007

Source: The New York Times

Wire Service: AP

MONTREAL (AP) -- An 11-year-old Muslim girl was ejected from a soccer game for refusing to take off her hijab, reigniting Quebec's debate over reasonable accommodation for minorities and even prompting comments from Premier Jean Charest.

Quebec's soccer federation said Asmahan Mansour of Ottawa was given the choice of taking off her hijab or not playing in a Sunday tournament in nearby Laval. It says the hijab -- an Islamic veil or head scarf -- violated a no-headgear rule set down by the sport's governing body for safety reasons.

But others have slammed the referee's decision, saying it's just another example of how Quebec is trying to get immigrants to toe a cultural line.

Maria Mansour, the girl's mother, told CBC Radio that she thought the incident was racially motivated.

''Strongly, I do think so, because soccer is soccer whether it's in Ontario or Quebec or Europe and it's not right at all to not allow a Muslim girl who's proud of her religion to play soccer, a sport she loves so much,'' Mansour said.