Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montreal, CANADA, August 7, 2008

This past May, Ms. R (the victim wishes to remain anonymous) and her three young daughters were waiting at a bus stop near metro station Sauvé, en route to visit a friend. Her youngest daughter was inside a stroller. While she and her children were waiting next to the bus shelter, she was accosted by a francophone woman in herfifties, who pushed Ms. R's stroller while her child was inside, and told her to get out of the way. Ms. R also wears the veil as part of her religious practices, and was veiled at the time of this incident.

When Ms. R asked the woman to speak to her politely, the woman began to insult Mme R's on the basis of her country of origin, her sex, her religion, her civil status and her status as a mother. Stunned, Ms. R replied that she had no right to speak to her in this way, especially in front of her children. The aggressor then advanced towards Ms.R, ripped off her veil as well as some of her hair, and continued to insult her. Frightened by the agressor's violent conduct, the three young children began to cry,and the eldest daughter even told the aggressor to stop insulting her mother.

Traumatized by this hate crime, Ms. R and her eldest daughter have sought out counselling to deal with the emotional consequences of the incident. Ms. R also mandated CRARR to assist her in the defense of her civil rights. As a result, CRARR has filed a complaint to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission on behalf of Ms. R and her eldest daughter against the aggressor for violating their right to equality, dignity and security of the person. In the complaint, CRARR is claiming damages in the amount of $25,000 for moral damages and $10,000 for punitive damages in order to compensate the victims for the hate-motivated assault and for sexist, islamaphobic and xenophobic insults.

With a new plan to assist victims of hate crimes motivated by race, religion, ethnicity,sexual orientation, disability and other similar factors, CRARR will also accompany Ms. R through the criminal process in order to ensure that the hate motivated element of this crime is acknowledged by the courts, especially if the case moves to the sentencing stage, as stipulated by art. 718.2 of the Criminal Code.

This incident is one of the first reported cases of assault against a Muslim woman that directly targeted her veil and that will be addressed by the criminal and civil justice systems in Quebec. Despite reports in Montreal of veiled women who are insulted,harassed, assaulted (including being spat on) and/or threatened, many of these women do not take legal measures to defend their rights.