Manitoba's sport minister has ordered the agency that governs provincial sports to review a decision that banned an 11-year-old girl from a judo tournament because she wore a Muslim head scarf.
"I've asked Sport Manitoba to become engaged here and find out what the deal is and come to a resolution in short order," Eric Robinson told the Winnipeg Free Press yesterday.
Hagar Outbih left a judo tournament in tears Saturday when judo officials in Winnipeg refused to let her fight while wearing the hijab.
The girl said she couldn't believe sports officials would ban her because she wore a head scarf.
Safety, not religious reasons, determined the decision, said Judo Manitoba president Dave Minuk.
"It could be used to strangle somebody," he said, citing International Judo Federation guidelines.
In Ottawa, a political group that represents Muslims' interests in Canada issued a statement to condemn the Manitoba action.
"Dave Minuk's decision effectively bars Muslim women from judo. For decades, women have fought hard for their rights and Minuk's call is taking them away," said the statement from the Council of American-Islamic Relations Canada. The council said the IJF ducked the issue because its rules are silent on head scarves. Last February an 11-year-old Ottawa girl was thrown out of an indoor soccer tournament for refusing to remove her hijab. A similar scene played out in Longueuil, Que., in April when a tae kwon do team of Muslim girls withdrew from a tournament after they were barred from fighting while wearing hijabs.