"Quebec Identity" vs. the Headscarf: Student Expelled for Wearing Hijab

September 26, 2003

Source: The Globe and Mail


On September 26, 2003 The Globe and Mail reported on the controversy surrounding the hijab, or Muslim headscarf, in Quebec: "The current hijab controversy involves Irene Waseem, 16, who was recently expelled from College Charlemagne, a private Catholic girls' school, for wearing the hijab on her first day back at the school she had attended since 1999. The Quebec Human Rights Commission (QHRC) has ruled that a private religious institution cannot violate rights, such as freedom of religion, protected under the province's human-rights charter. Such incidents, rare in the rest of Canada, occasionally occur in Quebec because of its secularism, its links to France -- and its nationalism. How inclusive is Quebec identity? Can it incorporate practices that are not pur laine? Last year, CBC news correspondent Celine Gallipeau unwittingly set off a firestorm in the province for wearing a loose-fitting head scarf while reporting from Afghanistan." The article goes on to describe the various hijab incidents over the past several years.