Naima Rharouity ID'd as victim in Montreal escalator death

Quebec's coroner's office says Naima Rharouity, 47, was the woman who died after her scarf and hair became tangled in an escalator at the Fabre Metro station.

Woman, 47, died after scarf got caught in Fabre Metro escalator

Police investigate the death of Naima Rharouity, 47, who died after her scarf and hair got caught in an escalator at Montreal's Fabre Metro station. (CBC)

Quebec's coroner's office has released the name of the woman who died Thursday when her scarf and hair became tangled in an escalator at the Fabre metro station.

She is Naima Rharouity, 47.

In a brief email, a spokeswoman for the coroner's office said Rharouity's death will be investigated by Dr. Paul Dionne.

The coroner will be assisted by Montreal police and by the agency responsible for maintaining Quebec's building code, the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, which is conducting its own investigation.

A new immigrant, wife and mother

Rharouity had been receiving help from a community organization in Montreal’s east end neighbourhood of Villeray, where she had also volunteered for the last year.

“Whenever we had special events, she always made herself available,” said Djelloul Mersel, a manager at Projet Villeray dans l'Est.

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“She was a person who wanted to help. She cooked with the other women, she talked with them — she was very sociable and wanted to integrate.… When I found out it was her, it was a shock.”

Mersel said Rharouity immigrated from Morocco about a year and a half ago with her husband and their two sons, aged five and eight.

Rharouity's husband is out of town — he was called to Morocco recently because his mother had died, but he's now en route back to Montreal.

Mersel said he wonders how the children are coping.

“When any human being dies like that, it is tragic — and it is sad, because she has two kids who are alone now. We have to think of the children.”

Mersel said the community is rallying together to help Rharouity's family.

“I’m Algerian and she’s Moroccan, but in our culture, when someone dies, the first gesture is to collect money for the family — and the community is already doing that.”

Death sparks hateful comments

Rharouity's death prompted some hateful reaction online, after some media outlets reported she was wearing a hijab at the time of the incident.

Some online comments referred to Quebec’s secular charter, which proposes to ban religious symbols for public employees while on the job.

“The boundaries of what is sayable and what isn't have moved more in the last six months than I can ever remember in my lifetime in Quebec," said Daniel Weinstock, a philosophy and law professor at McGill University.

Weinstock said the charter has made it socially acceptable for people to say racist things they previously might have kept to themselves, adding that the Parti Québécois needs to do more to ensure the charter debate continues in a respectful, calm manner.