“Support Judge Marengo!”

Discussion about the hijab is ongoing. Last week, CBC announced that McGill student Soumia Allalou’s request for women-only hours at the university gym is causing an “uproar.”

According to CTV News,

Allalou said her religious beliefs exclude her from exercising in the presence of men, but added that all women would benefit from having the option of working out during exclusive hours.

Today, Atheist Freethinkers (AFT) published its latest blog post asking readers to support Judge Marengo. Marengo is the judge who dismissed Rania El-Alloul’s case because El-Alloul refused to remove the hijab she wore in court:

The same rules need to be applied to everyone. I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing a scarf on your head, just as I would not allow a person to appear before me wearing a hat or sunglasses on his or her head, or any other garment not suitable for a court proceeding.

Atheist Freethinkers’ “Blog 52: Support Judge Marengo!is unequivocal in its support for Marengo:

We must support judge Marengo because her decision is eminently reasonable, refusing to accommodate an arbitrary behaviour based on religious motives. The judge thus refused to discriminate on the basis of the religion of the person appearing before her court. . . .

The writer goes on to say,

With this decision, the judge reminds us that a religious symbol is just clothing – and clothing can be removed or changed. This very simple lesson is one which multiculturalists would nevertheless like us to forget, obsessed as they are with the promotion of religious privilege (which they falsely call a “right”). An Islamic veil – or any other religious symbol, sign or article of clothing – deserves no more consideration than a lapel button for a political party, or a pastafarian’s colander worn as a hat, or a tinfoil cap worn in order to keep extraterrestrials from reading one’s mind.

Please read the whole post on the AFT website and sign the petition to support the judge.

Note: As you will see from my comment at the bottom of Blog 52, I support AFT and Judge Marengo.

14 thoughts on ““Support Judge Marengo!”

  1. completely agree .

  2. > With this decision, the judge reminds us that a religious symbol is just clothing – and clothing can be removed or changed.

    So David Rand supports judges ordering you to take your top off, or strip down, or change into pasties and a g-string, to hear your case?

  3. Judge’s reasoning will be vindicated by history. No exceptions on the grounds of religion for generally applicable law or procedure. Religious symbols thus have no place in secular courts.

    • What the appellant is wearing is not part of “applicable law or procedure”.

      By making it so, *Marengo* is the one who made El-Alloul’s religion (by challenging her religious attire) a matter of the court – not El-Alloul; she had no idea this would come up at all, and there is no rational reason it should have. Marengo is the one who violated the secular nature of the court.

    • Courts are secular by not supporting or displaying religion in their process. This does not mean they must be intolerant of the religious requirements of people in the courts. You want courts to ban religion just like the jihadis would ban everything but Islam. Both views are unbalanced and disrespectful of others.

  4. The judge overstepped her authority. Courts are secular, people are not. How is a headscarf going to stop having a fair hearing? Would she ask that a crucifix necklace be removed? Would she deny someone being able to swear on a bible? And I am a pretty militant secularist

  5. If hats aren’t allowed in court, I don’t see why hijabs should be. But then, I don’t really see why hats shouldn’t be allowed in court in the first place. The determination with which the legal system clings to these superficial formalities is more than a little absurd.

    • > If hats aren’t allowed in court, I don’t see why hijabs should be.

      Hats are (usually) worn for mere decoration. Hijabs are not. The comparison is specious.

      You might as well say “if covering your head is not allowed in court, then covering your genitals shouldn’t be either”. That is actually a more correct analogy in this situation.

      Muslim women do not wear hijabs to be stylish. They wear them to be modest. Same reason you wear pants in public.

      What Marengo did is not merely asking someone to take off their bling, she was asking this woman to bare herself inappropriately (according to El-Alloul’s beliefs) in public. It would be as if a nudist judge ordered appellants to strip naked to be heard in court because the judge considered clothing mere decoration, regardless of how the appellants feel about it.

      You can dispute whether that level of modesty is reasonable, but ultimately that is a matter of personal preference – it shouldn’t be up to a court to decide. Justice should not be denied to people who prefer to cover up a little more skin (or hair) than the judge prefers to see.

      • While I can’t read Marengo’s mind, I assume that she’s lumping hijabs in with hats on the grounds that they cover one’s head. Sure, the two items of apparel are generally worn for different reasons, but it’s hardly “specious” to recognise that they can both be categorised as head coverings. And if the rule in Marengo’s courtroom is going to be “no head coverings”, I don’t really see why “modesty” should be privileged as a justification for breaking that rule. I think it’s a bit silly and high-handed of Marengo to be so fussy in the first place, but that’s a different discussion.

        • > While I can’t read Marengo’s mind, I assume that she’s lumping hijabs in with hats on the grounds that they cover one’s head.

          Then she would be an idiot, far too stupid to deserve the position of judge.

          If anything that covers the head is “just a hat” to her, what is she going to do when someone comes in with their head bandaged? What’s that? You say she’d be capable of recognizing *that* particular head covering as more than just a hat? Why would you assume that if she can’t tell that a hijab isn’t? If you’re going to assume she’s *that* stupid, why qualify it?

          I don’t believe Marengo is as stupid as you want to pretend she is – i think she deserves a little more credit than that. She *knew* that asking El-Alloul to take the hijab off was more than merely asking someone to take their hat off. She *knew* that she was striking right at El-Alloul’s sense of propriety, personal privacy, and personal decency. And *even* if you want to make the absurd and unbelievable claim that maybe she didn’t know, El-Alloul straight up *told* her so, and Marengo just brushed it off and basically said, “fuck your principles, fuck your sense of what is proper to do in public, fuck your body autonomy; I like to see hair”. There is no way any reasonable person can defend that attitude, especially from someone whose freaking job is to serve people like El-Alloul. Ah, but that’s the key issue here – it would seem Marengo doesn’t believe El-Alloul is the kind of people she’s supposed to be serving.

          Don’t be deliberately stupid. It’s insulting to people’s intelligence in general, and particularly loathsome when done to excuse an action this unreasonable. You know as well as i do that Marengo knew what she was doing was not merely asking someone to take their hat off.

          > And if the rule in Marengo’s courtroom is going to be “no head coverings”, I don’t really see why “modesty” should be privileged as a justification for breaking that rule.

          So you’re with Rand then, and believe that there would be no problem if a male judge decided their courtroom rule should be “no clothing above the waist” and told everyone to go topless? Because why would modesty be “privileged” as a justification for breaking that rule, right?

          • If anything that covers the head is “just a hat” to her, what is she going to do when someone comes in with their head bandaged?

            As I said originally, I don’t see why modesty should be privileged as a reason for breaking a rule about head coverings. Medical necessity is another matter.

            You know as well as i do that Marengo knew what she was doing was not merely asking someone to take their hat off.

            I think that’s probably exactly what she was doing – being a stickler for the rules, without fear or favour. Sure, she probably guessed that El-Alloul might have more of a problem with taking her hat off than the average Stetson-toting cowgirl, or whatever, but that’s a different point. And I stress the “might” – some hijabis are definitely more inhibited about decloaking than others.

            So you’re with Rand then, and believe that there would be no problem if a male judge decided their courtroom rule should be “no clothing above the waist” and told everyone to go topless?

            There are two issues here – the reasonableness of the rule, and whether someone’s individual concept of modesty is a valid reason for breaking a rule that’s otherwise reasonable. I don’t think a rule against head coverings is all that reasonable, but then, I’d like to see a further relaxation of dress codes across society in general. Also, a rule against head coverings is a lot more reasonable than a rule against tops, by prevailing social standards. But if a judge did institute a rule against tops, I’d have more sympathy for people who objected to the rule per se than people who simply showed up in court and said “but it’s against my religion to take off my shirt!”.

  6. Judges should have to work naked so we know they aren’t concealing weapons. FUCK that narrow minded piece of shit judge.

  7. She’s wrong. At the Supreme Court we have recognized the religious significance of various dress to be above uniform/decorum requirements(Sikh police officers may wear the turban instead of a police cap) but not health and safety (no turbaned firefighters). Courtroom dress decorum seems to be bear about the same importance as a police uniform recognition, so based on previous rulings it’s not unreasonable that Catholics should be able to wear crosses, Jews yarmulkes and Muslims scarfs. Nothing to hide the face however as that impedes the ability to interact appropriately in the pursuit of justice. It’s unlikely this judge would have made a big deal about any other religion. And it’s not the business of atheists or secularists to interfere in religious people’s belief in assorted spooks and what these spooks want them to wear as long as long as it’s within reason and as long as they leave atheists alone and don’t unduly interfere in how society conducts business in accordance with democratic principals.

  8. And who says racism isnt alive and but very healthy in Canada

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