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Quebec judge who asked woman to remove hijab apologizes, 5 years later

A Quebec court judge, who refused to hear the case of a Montreal woman because she was wearing a hijab, has finally apologized for the incident, more than five years after it happened.

A Quebec court judge, who refused to hear the case of a Montreal woman because she was wearing a hijab, has finally apologized for the incident, more than five years after it happened.

At an online hearing of the Quebec Council of the Magistrature on Tuesday, a lawyer for the council read Judge Eliana Marengo’s apology to Rania El-Alloul.

The council is the body responsible for disciplining judges in the province.

In her statement, Marengo said she acknowledged that she erred in asking El-Alloul to remove her hijab, that she regretted any inconvenience and that she never intended any offence or disrespect.

Marengo addressed the fact that at the time she had compared El-Alloul’s hijab to a hat and sunglasses being worn in the courtroom.

“My reference to hats and sunglasses was simply meant to exemplify how the rules of decorum are generally applied in the courtroom and was most certainly not meant to disrespect either you or your beliefs,” Marengo said.

She concluded by offering El-Alloul her most sincere apologies.

El-Alloul read her own statement in response, saying she accepted Marengo’s apology.

Here is Judge Marengo’s apology for asking a woman to remove her hijab in Quebec court

“I remember that day in the courtroom like it was yesterday. I couldn’t imagine that I would be turned away from the justice system because of my hijab, that my rights would be taken away because of my beliefs,” El-Alloul said.

“I hope she understands the pain she caused me, and why it is so important for her to account for her actions. Our justice system is not made for some and not others. No, this is a democracy, where everyone is to be treated equally before the law,” she continued.  

“I accept her apology. This is what my faith teaches me.”

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