Some Muslim Liberals in Quebec are upset with party leader Jean Charest's support for an amateur soccer official who kicked a young Muslim girl out of a Laval tournament for wearing a hijab.
A Quebec Soccer Association referee ejected Nepean U12 Hotspurs player Asmahan Mansour, 11, on the weekend because she was wearing her headscarf on the pitch, a violation of the province's sports regulations.
The referee, who is Muslim, said the association's position complies with FIFA rules, an explanation Charest endorsed Monday, when he said he agreed there are certain behaviours to be expected from soccer players on the field, including proper attire.
At a large Liberal rally in Laval Monday night, some Muslim supporters grumbled atthe premier'sstand.
"The community isn't feeling very comfortable with that kind of comment," said Maher Bissany, a Liberal supporter.
"We would much rather hear from Mr. Charest things along the lines of integration, and having our kids feel part of all the activities, whether it's soccer or at school or any other type of activities," Bissany told CBC.
Bissany said he hopes Muslim leaders in Quebec will have a chance to share their thoughts with Charest about religious accommodation.
The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) said the incident should prompt soccer officials in Quebec to change field attire rules.
"Everywhere else in the country you can do this," said Sara Elgazzar, a spokeswoman for CAIR-CAN. "It's not a problem, especially in Ontario where these girl play. Soccer in Ontario is not less safe than soccer in Quebec."
Elgazzar saidshe wears her hijab to playhockey and soccer without any problems.
The referee's call on Sunday highlighted differences in the way soccer rulesare interpreted.
Ontario Soccer Association CEO Guy Bradbury told CBC News religious headgear is allowed during games, as long as it's "safely tucked in and secured."
And Joe Guest,the director of referees at Soccer Canada, said certain kinds of headgear are allowed as long as they don't wrap around the neck.
Mansour told CBC she thought Quebec's rules are "pathetic" and doesn't see how her hijab is a safety risk.