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

Of note:

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.

“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.”

‘Not suitably dressed’

The controversy dates back to February 2015 when El-Alloul was in court trying to get back her impounded car.

“In my opinion, you are not suitably dressed,” Marengo told El-Alloul at the time. The judge said the court was a secular space, and no religious symbols should be worn by those before it.

The case was suspended, and El-Alloul eventually got her car back. But the story made headlines around the world.

Dozens of people, including El-Alloul, ultimately filed complaints with the Council of the Magistrature.

El-Alloul’s complaint was dismissed on a technicality, but the council agreed to look into the dozens of other complaints on the matter.

Marengo challenged the authority of the council to examine the complaints. She sought leave to appeal a Quebec Court of Appeal decision that unanimously found she was wrong to bar El-Alloul from her courtroom.

But in 2018, the Supreme Court refused to hear Marengo’s challenge.

Change of heart

The Council of the Magistrature sent a letter earlier this summer to the complainants, informing them of today’s hearing.

“The purpose of this hearing will be to study a settlement proposal from the prosecutors on file, including a letter of apology from Judge Marengo to Mrs. El-Alloul,” the letter said.

The council also told the complainants the apology would be released to the public, in exchange for dropping the disciplinary charges against Marengo.

The settlement was jointly proposed by Marengo’s lawyers and the lawyer handling the complaint for the council.

The panel of judges presiding over the hearing said it would take time to consider today’s arguments before deciding whether to accept the settlement.

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

Judge who told woman to remove hijab offering to apologize in settlement proposal

Hard to see that this apology is genuine or just an effort to avoid discipline given how long Judge Marengo has been fighting this:

A Quebec court judge who refused to hold a hearing for a Montreal woman after the woman refused to remove her hijab now says she’s willing to apologize for the incident, more than five years after it happened.

In February 2015, Judge Eliana Marengo refused to hear the case of Rania El-Alloul.

El-Alloul was in court trying to get her impounded car back.

“In my opinion, you are not suitably dressed,” Marengo told El-Alloul at the time. The judge said the court was a secular space, and no religious symbols should be worn by those before it.

Marengo compared the hijab to a hat and sunglasses, saying she wouldn’t hear a case from someone wearing those, either.

After the incident, dozens of people filed complaints with the Quebec Council of the Magistrature, the body responsible for disciplining judges in the province.

In a letter sent recently to the complainants, the council said it would convene a hearing Sept. 8.

“The purpose of this hearing will be to study a settlement proposal from the prosecutors on file, including a letter of apology from Judge Marengo to Mrs. El-Alloul,” the letter said.

The letter also said the apology would be released to the public, in exchange for the dropping of the disciplinary complaints against Marengo.

Council spokesperson Paul Crépeau told CBC News the settlement is being jointly proposed by Marengo’s lawyers and the lawyer handling the complaint for the council.

Long legal fight

Marengo has been fighting the disciplinary complaint in court for years, at one point challenging the authority of the council to even hear the complaint.

Judge Eliana Marengo’s lawyers are now proposing a compromise where Marengo would write a letter of apology to El-Alloul.(Radio-Canada)

After a request from the legal team assisting El-Alloul, the Quebec Court of Appeal in 2018 issued a judgment reaffirming that the Quebec court dress code does not forbid head scarves if they constitute a sincere religious belief and don’t harm the public interest.

El-Alloul herself filed a formal complaint with the council after the incident, but it was rejected because of a technicality.

However, dozens of other complaints were accepted, and the council convened a special panel of five judges to consider the case.

El-Alloul declined to comment on the latest developments.

Source: Judge who told woman to remove hijab offering to apologize in settlement proposal

Quebec woman denied her day in court over hijab turns down $52,000 raised through crowdfunding

Class act:

The money collected on the gofundme website was to be used to help Rania El-Alloul buy a car.

The drive was in response to a judge’s refusal to hear her case against Quebec’s automobile insurance board, which had seized her vehicle.

El-Alloul said in a letter on the website that she appreciates the financial support offered by the “generous and warm-hearted campaign.”

But, she added, she can’t accept the gift.

“The awareness raised by this campaign has brought us people from all over, who have offered support to carry this issue forward,” El-Alloul wrote.

“As a result, I believe that these funds can be put to better use helping those whose rights have been forfeited and stories left untold.”

Quebec woman denied her day in court over hijab turns down $52,000 raised through crowdfunding