The Quebec government is turning a blind eye to sensible alternatives by forcing a Muslim woman to choose between her hijab or prison guard training, say Muslim groups. Sondos Abdelatif, 19, was told that she would have to remove her hijab in order to continue with the training program at Montreal’s Bordeaux jail. She chose to withdraw from the program instead.
Quebec’s Public Security Department said the Muslim headwear could pose a threat to Abdelatif’s safety should prisoners get hostile. “As a security measure, the hijab cannot be accepted as an element of the uniform to execute the functions of a correctional officer,” department spokesman Real Roussy said Thursday.
However, the head of the Muslim Council of Montreal argues the issue signals a lack of openness on the government’s behalf. “It is an ultimatum, remove the hijab or you’re out of here,” said Salam Elmenyawi. “That’s not a security issue, this is much more a bigoted issue.”
See also CTV.ca, 15 March 2007