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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Quebec hearings get worked up about what to wear

Hijabs, baseball caps, burkas, kirpans, green hair and Bermuda shorts -- what people wear and the way they look preoccupies Quebecers, a government commission heard Wednesday.

On its third and final day of hearings in the Montregie area, near Montreal, the Bouchard-Taylor commission on "reasonable accommodations" of religious and ethnic minorities got an earful from residents about the manner of dress allowed in schools, shopping malls and swimming pools.

Day-care worker Louise Condrain said she was shocked one hot summer day at a mall to see a woman in a burka strolling behind her husband, who was comfortably dressed in Bermuda shorts.

Robert Dubois, a father of five, said he's "seen a lot worse" than the hijab where he works, the Universite de Montreal, including students with green hair, for example.

Horeya Elmaraghi, a lawyer originally from Egypt, said she wore the veil at work in court here for eight months in 2004, the year she made a pilgrimage to Mecca, but finally stopped wearing it because people complained.

Roger Larrame, a retired union activist, said he thinks Sikh students in school wear their kirpan "like a jewel" -- out of vanity, not religious devotion.

Yves Lavoie, a Montreal fireman, said Muslim women have been told to stop wearing full clothing when they bathe at local swimming pools, and objected that his son can't wear his baseball cap in high school, even though hijabs are allowed there. [Link]

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