TORONTO – In a new row over hijab in Quebec, a Canadian Muslim girl was sacked as a soccer referee over wearing the headscarf, CBC News reported.
"I always felt like I was equal growing up in Canada," Sarah Benkirane said Tuesday, June 21.
"So I don't understand why they're going to take this right away from me."
The 15-year old, of Moroccan origin, was told that she can no longer referee soccer games while donning hijab.
The Quebec Soccer Federation says that FIFA rules ban the wearing of hijab and other religious symbols on pitch.
“It’s clearly stated that officials shall not display commercial, religious . . . or personal messages of any language,” the Federation's president Dino Madonis told a news conference.
The Quebec federation also issued a statement to defend its ruling.
“Therefore the situation is clear! Wearing a hijab is not permitted on Quebec’s soccer fields, not any more than necklaces, earrings, rings and such, and won’t be until FIFA gives directives to the contrary,” the statement said.
Quebec was a scene of similar rows over the wearing of hijab on pitch.
In 2007, an 11-year-old Ottawa girl was expelled from a soccer game for covering her hair.
Two months later, a taekwondo team of Muslim girls withdrew from a tournament over their hijabs.
An 11-year old Muslim girl was also thrown out from a national judo tournament for wearing hijab.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Benkirane defended wearing hijab on pitch.
"Refs don’t have any contact with the other players, so I figured that there’s no danger,” said the Muslim girl, The Star reported.
"They’ve changed what they’re saying and now they start saying it’s a religious symbol — back then it was about safety."
"I'm not hurting anyone," said Benkirane. "I practice my religion and I do it with my face uncovered."
Benkirane vowed to fight discrimination against hijab-clad Muslims on pitch.
"I was kind of frustrated, but right away I started to think, ‘OK, this is my chance, if they want to rule (on) this then I’m going to fight it — for sure,’ ” he said.
“I grew up with friends from every different culture and nobody’s ever discriminated against (me) because of religion.”
Muslims make around 1.9 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country.A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.
Related Links:Hijab Red Card Sparks Uproar in Quebec
Canada Hijab Phobia Spreads to Judo
Canadian Muslims to Sue FIFA Over Hijab
Canada MPs Defend Hijab-clad Player
Quebec Faiths Irked by Daycare Religion Ban