Rania El-Alloul, who was told to remove her Hijab when appearing in a Quebec court in February, has lodged a motion with the Quebec Superior Court demanding clarity on the issue. El-Alloul insists that as a Muslim, she should be free to wear religious attire when in a courtroom.
The controversy began when El-Alloul went to court earlier this year to recover her car, which had been removed by Quebec’s Auto Insurance Board. Judge Eliana Marengo first requested that El-Alloul remove her hijab before proceedings began, and then refused to hear her case.
At a news conference in Montreal at the end of March, El-Alloul and her lawyer revealed details of her complaint. Human rights lawyer Julius Grey told the media conference, “This is a capsule of many of the current issues around freedom of religion.”
The motion he presented on El-Alloul’s behalf asks the Superior Court to provide a definitive ruling, stating whether or not Quebec residents are permitted to wear religious attire in the courtroom. El-Alloul also plans to file an official complaint against the conduct of Judge Marengo.
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El-Alloul thanked her supporters for backing her campaign. In a crowdfunding effort organized by El-Alloul’s supporters, over $50,000 was raised.
Despite the generosity, which saw over $20,000 raised within one day, El-Alloul did not accept the donations. Instead, she maintained that the funds could be put to better use helping others achieve their rights. Announcing her decision, she explained, “I believe that these funds can be put to better use helping those whose rights have been forfeited and stories left untold.”
At the press conference, she also reaffirmed her right to freely express her religion.
“I have every right to appear before any judge in any courtroom with my headscarf, just as someone wearing a turban or kippa, has,” she told the news conference.