Hijabi Woman Runs for Provincial Elections in Quebec

QUEBEC, Montreal – A hijabi woman has announced plans to run in Quebec fall provincial elections, making her the first Muslim woman donning the religious headwear to run in the eastern Canadian district.

“For the past 10 years in Quebec, Muslim women have been a big part of the political discussion – somewhat against their will,” Eve Torres told The Canadian Press in an interview Monday, CTV News reported on Tuesday.

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.

Her announcement followed suggestion last week by Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante that she was open to city police officers wearing a Sikh turban or an Islamic headscarf, known as hijab, as part of the official uniform.

Torres is so far unopposed and is being billed as the first hijabi woman to run in a Quebec provincial election.

Yet, her announcement has triggered heated criticism on TW and newspapers.

“The veil is a symbol used by Islamists to make their presence known in the public sphere and to occupy that space by the principle of maximum visibility,” wrote Mathieu Bock-Cote, a columnist in the popular Le Journal de Montreal.

A column by Denise Bombardier in the same newspaper featured a photo of a veiled Torres under the headline “Our dark future”.

Bock-Cote, Bombardier and another populist writer for Le Journal, Lise Ravary, suggested Torres was an “Islamist,” a word that carries a strong connotation of fundamentalism and militancy.

“I am not an Islamist, I have never been one and I don’t plan on becoming one,” Torres said, adding that she was expecting the backlash.

Torres was a spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, an advocacy group that is currently suing the Quebec government over Bill 62, which forces people to uncover their face when giving or receiving a public service.

“I chose to wear the colors of Quebec solidaire,” she said.

“From the moment I jumped into politics, it was no longer about my personal considerations. It’s clear I will defend the party’s position.”