Muslim Montrealer says she was told by Costco employee, 'Go back to your country'

A Muslim Montrealer is filing a human rights complaint against Costco​ after what she says was an Islamophobic incident at l'Acadie Boulevard store on Oct. 18.

Asma Al-Shawarghi, who wears a hijab, appalled by incident which happened in front of her young daughters

Asma Al-Shawarghi, pictured with her husband Bilal Hamideh, wants Costco to enforce their nondiscrimination policies with employees.

A Muslim Montrealer is filing a human rights complaint against Costco​ after a comment allegedly made by a sales clerk.

Asma Al-Shawarghi, who was raised in Canada, said she was at the Costco store on l'Acadie Boulevard on Oct. 18 and asked a sales clerk whether a coat she was looking at would keep her warm in -40 C weather. 

Al-Shawarghi said the sales representative responded that no jacket would keep her warm at such temperatures, adding, "If you don't like that, go back to your country."

She said she replied that Canada is her country and that she's a Canadian citizen, however, she said the clerk ignored her and started serving another customer.

Al-Shawarghi said she was deeply bothered by the incident, which happened in front of her two daughters, aged two and seven.

More insults since niqab debate, woman says

Al-Shawarghi said she returned to the Costco store in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough a week later to discuss the incident. She said a store representative called her back on Thursday and said the clerk in question has been transferred to another Costco outlet. However, Al-Shawarghi said she was offered no apology.

She said she decided to go public and file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission after consulting with friends and family and hearing their own stories of discrimination.

She said she's noticed an increase in Islamophobia since the debate over the niqab during the federal election.

"I hear of so many stories of Muslim women being harassed, insulted and assaulted because they wear a hijab but who are too afraid or distrustful of the justice system to do anything," she said.

Al-Shawarghi said she wants Costco to ensure employees do not discriminate and to make the complaint procedure easier to go through than what she experienced.

​A spokesperson for Costco did not return a request for comment Friday.


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