Sikhs can’t carry their swords, and other groups are subjected to similar inconveniences, but Muslim women should be allowed to keep their hijabs on when passing through security, says Canadian PM Paul Martin. Immigration authorities have been requiring all people to take off any and all headgear, so that they can see their faces unobstructed. It is not hard to envision a context in which it would be important to be able to do that.
Prime Minister Paul Martin doesn’t want Muslim women arriving at Pierre Trudeau International Airport in Dorval to be required to remove their headscarves as they pass through security.
Four Muslim women complained this summer after they were told to take pff their hijabs so pictures of them could be taken for their permanent-residency cards.
Martin wants the practice stopped, saying an Islamic woman’s right to to wear the hijab must be respected.
Immigration is in part a Quebec jurisdiction, however, and it remains to be seen whether his instructions will be carried out.
Immigration Quebec was not available for comment yesterday.
In each of the four cases, Quebec immigration officials at the airport insisted the hijab had to come off so all facial features could be seen.
The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations accused the immigration authorities of being overzealous.
The prime minister agreed.