Hijab-wearing Quebec student turned away from roller rink

A Quebec student says she was only trying to celebrate a friend's birthday at the Brossard, Que., rollerblading palladium when a man came up to her and said she wasn't allowed to wear her hijab.

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"A man approached me and my friend and pointed at my head covering, my hijab," Hoda Mady told CTV Montreal. "He told me I had to take it off."

Mady said the man, a regular customer at the Paladium de Brossard, told her "hats" weren't allowed at the facility.

At first, Mady said she thought it was just a misunderstanding. The student wears her hijab for religious reasons, but thought maybe the man was confused because of the way she wraps the scarf.

"I just thought maybe he's uneducated on the matter," she said. "Maybe he thinks it's a hat because I do wear a different style than the traditional (style)."

But Mady said the conversation escalated when an employee stepped in and began defending the man's comments.

"She just went on defending him, saying he didn't mean anything by it," Mady said.

Mady and her friends tried to explain the head covering's significance, but say they couldn't convince the man and employee.

"This is not an optional head covering. It's religious. It's a symbol. It's mandatory," Mady's friend Aarti Srivastava said. "(The employee) didn't understand."

Upset, the group of friends asked for a refund and left.

"I did cry about it, and my friends were shocked," Mady said.

That wasn't the end of the incident, however.

A manager at the palladium is now apologizing for the situation, and says the rollerblading rink doesn't have a policy against hijabs, though it does ban hats.

Nicole Sicard says she's told Mady she's sorry for the customer's and employee's behaviour, and that "some education is in order."

Mady accepted the apology and said she plans to return to the rink to rollerblade next weekend.

And in the meantime, she says, she's hoping her story will help prevent any similar incidents.

"I just want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else," she said.

With files from CTV Montreal



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