Crowdfunding campaign raises $40,000 for woman in hijab dispute

WATCH ABOVE: A crowdfunding campaign in support of a Quebec woman who was refused her day in court because she was wearing a hijab has raised more than $30,000. Global’s Billy Shields has more.

MONTREAL — After a civil judge in Montreal wouldn’t hear a woman’s case because she wore a hijab, a crowdfunding campaign has raised just over $40,000 to buy her a new car. Doubling their initial goal of $20,000.

“It’s incredible,” said Rayan Rafay, a Vancouver pension fund manager who was one of two people who started the campaign to help Rania El-Alloul buy a car.

“When we started this, we just thought, ‘let’s be constructive. Let’s show her the Canada that we know inside, that we’ve grown up with.'”

The response far exceeded Rafay’s most optimistic expectations. And he said that there’s enough money to buy Rania El-Alloul a car and even fund whatever legal expenses she may incur should she file a human rights complaint.

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READ MORE: Montreal woman to file complaint after judge imposes no hijab rule

“She was absolutely blown away by the support, incredibly grateful,” he said.

“And we’re working with our own advisers, lawyers and accountants to figure out the best means of disbursing that money.”

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According to one of El-Alloul’s friends, she is weighing with advisers of her own whether she can accept the money due to legal reasons. But as one friend noted, it was never her intention to gain any financial windfall.

“She never started this campaign [for justice] with the idea of enriching herself,” said Sameer Zuberi.

El-Alloul ended up in court on Thursday to get her car back, which had been impounded after her son was driving it without a valid licence.

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Quebec Court Judge Eliana Marengo told El-Alloul her case wouldn’t be hear because she wasn’t dressed appropriately, and compared her wearing a hijab to someone who was wearing a hat or sunglasses.

WATCH: Judge refuses to hear veiled woman’s case

El-Alloul was shocked, and social media erupted with outrage.

The hashtag #notmycanada quickly included angry tweets decrying her situation.

A judicial spokesperson defended how Marengo handled the case, saying that judges have a right to set the rules of conduct in their courtrooms.

The court of public opinion saw it differently.

“I agree completely that it was wrong of the judge to say this was inappropriate attire for court,” said Sabrina McCuddin, a law student.

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Richard Greydanus, a McGill University PhD candidate in religious studies, said the situation is an example of a misinterpretation of the concept of secularism.

“I think it says that the average person on the street has a much better sense of where priorities should lie,” he said.

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