Quebec minister firm on no burqa in class

March 10, 2010 at 1:13 PM
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MONTREAL, March 10 (UPI) -- Quebec's provincial immigration minister said she won't back down on barring a Muslim woman from wearing a full-face burqa while taking French lessons.

The controversy surrounds Naema Ahmed, a 29-year-old pharmacist from Egypt who left one school when told she had to remove the veil that only reveals her eyes, The (Montreal) Gazette reported Wednesday. She was also told to remove the veil at a second school this week.

Immigration Minister Yolande James said there was "no ambiguity" about the issue.

"If you want to assist at our classes, if you want to integrate into Quebec society, here are our values: We want to see your face," James told reporters.

Ahmed has filed a complaint with Quebec's Human Rights Commission, claiming she wears the veil of her own free will for religious reasons, the report said.

However, Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, told the Globe and Mail the province is on the right course.

"This is an attire worn in the desert during sandstorms," Fatah said. "It's got nothing to do with religion."

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