A Egyptian woman who insisted on wearing a Niqab to class has been asked to leave her school.
She was enrolled in a language class for new immigrants at the CÉGEP St-Laurent.
The school says it tried to accommodate her for months. They allowed her to do oral tests in a separate room and to present an oral exam with her back turned to the class.
The situation grew more tense and confrontational in class when she insisted male students move because they could see her when the class was moved their desks into a u-shape.
The school went so far as getting Quebec's Immigration Department involved. Quebec's minister of immigration eventually authorized a letter sent to her by the department stating she must remove her Niqab or leave the school. She was offered to take the course on line.
The woman has brought her case to the Quebec's Human Rights Commission. She claims by asking her to remove the Niqab, the school is violating her rights to freedom of religion.
The Niqab covers the woman's entire body, exposing only her eyes.
Officials at the school said they did everything they could, including giving her privileges not available to other students. They also say teachers need to see students' mouths and faces in a language class.
The woman's expulsion is sure to reignite the debate in this province over reasonable accommodation.
In an interview with RDI this afternoon, the CEGEP's director Paul-Emile Bourque said this is not the first time the school has had to deal with this kind of situation, and in every other case things have been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.
"What this woman was asking for is not reasonable", said human rights lawyer Julius Grey." A kippa, a turban, a kirpan, these are all reasonable accommodations. But there is an educational reason to seeing a student's mouth."