QUEBEC, Montreal – A 17-year-old Muslim woman has become a subject of debate in Quebec following her decision to don hijab while studying to become a police officer.
“I feel like all the other kids. I don’t think I have a better or worse chance of getting into this career path,” Sondos Lamrhari told Radio-Canada, BBC reported.
Lamrhari is the first student in Quebec to wear a hijab while studying to become a police officer.
Her dreams to become a police officer were hit by a public controversy in a district where Muslim women headwear has been in debate for months.
Both politicians from the progressive Parti Quebecois and the center-right Coalition Avenir Québec have said she should not be allowed to wear hijab and serve on the police force.
“[Our) government would forbid any religious symbols for any employee of the state who’s in a position of authority,” Coalition Avenir Québec politician Geneviève Guilbault said.
This remark has ignited a firestorm on both sides of the issue.
“Any insults just motivate me,” the young Muslim added.
Meanwhile, the provincial police academy, which oversees her education, said it would issue a ruling on whether trainees can wear religious head coverings or not in the next few months.
The Montreal police do not have a rule either way.
Officers in Canada’s federal police force, the RCMP, have been wearing religious head coverings since the 1990s.
Police in the Canadian cities of Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver are also allowed to wear head coverings.
Despite politicians’ opposition, the mayor of Montreal has thrown her support behind Lamrhari as has the provincial Liberal Justice Minister Stéphanie Vallée.
“This young woman was born in Quebec,” Vallée said.
“She wants to join the police force where we don’t have a lot of women, let alone a lot of diversity.
“And the opposition is telling her, ‘You know what, you can study, but if we govern, we won’t allow you.'”
Earlier this week, Eve Torres, a 44-year-old Muslim mother of three, announced she was seeking the nomination in a Montreal-area riding for Quebec solidaire, the legislature’s most left-leaning party.