MONTREAL: A judge cannot refuse to take testimony from a woman because she is wearing an Islamic veil, a Canadian court ruled on Wednesday.
A citizen may wear any religious attire in a courtroom so long as their “religious beliefs are sincere” and they do not “conflict with another person’s constitutional rights,” the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled unanimously.
Montrealer Rania El-Alloul was expelled from a courtroom in 2015 for wearing a hijab.
Judge Eliana Marengo of the Court of Quebec had cited a court ruling that every person must be “appropriately dressed” and compared El-Alloul’s headscarf “to a hat or sunglasses.”
But Marengo did not take into account the right of El-Alloul “to religious expression,” the three appeals judges ruled.
The Canadian province of Quebec passed a ban in 2017 which forbids face-coverings on anyone giving or receiving public services. The law has been suspended by two judges since it was passed amidst debate that it focuses specifically on Muslim women and the niqab.