Quebec Prison Guard Loses Job for Wearing Hijab

March 16, 2007

Source: Angola Press

A human rights advocacy group deplored on Thursday the firing of a Muslim woman who lost her Quebec prison guard job for refusing to remove her hijab.

Sondos Abdelatif, 19, was half-way through her training to become a prison guard at Montreal`s Bordeaux jail when she was fired Tuesday on concerns her hijab, a soft scarf worn around the head and neck, could pose a safety risk.

"That is a misguided and completely unnecessary decision," said Karl Nickner, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. "People don`t realize there are many different types of hijab that would be perfectly safe."

Several manufacturers of athletic apparel designed for Muslim women provide a variety of styles of hijab that fasten with Velcro or elastic.

"It seems odd that a male Sikh prison guard in the Canadian correctional system can wear a turban but a female prison guard in Quebec cannot wear the hijab," said Nickner.

Inmates and guards in the Canadian federal corrections system are permitted to wear religious headdress, according to Diane Russon, regional communications manager for Corrections Canada.