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An Ontario MPP says she will continue to challenge the keffiyeh ban in Queen’s Park Achi-News

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An Ontario MPP says she will continue to challenge the keffiyeh ban in Queen’s Park


Achi news desk-

Ontario independent MPP Sarah Jama says she will continue to wear a keffiyeh in the legislature despite being told to leave the chamber Thursday for defying a ban on the Arab headscarf.

The black and white checkered scarf, typically worn in Arab cultures and often used to symbolize solidarity with Palestinians, has been at the center of a tense debate inside Queen’s Park since Speaker Ted Arnott branded it a political symbol and banned this spring.

He said it falls under the same strict rules that prevent MPPs from using clothing or props to make a “political statement.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, along with the Ontario NDP, the Liberals and the Greens, have called on Arnott to reverse his ban.

Click to play video: 'MPP Sarah Jama threatens to sue Premier Doug Ford over Israel-Hamas comments'

MPP Sarah Jama threatens to sue Premier Doug Ford over Israel-Hamas comments

Ford initially tried to get his MPPs to get behind his position and reverse the ban by allowing a unanimous consent motion from the Ontario NDP to pass by the NDP last Thursday. At least one MPP, however, took issue with it and voted to prevent the motion from being passed.

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On Tuesday, the premier was forced to give in and allow a free vote for his caucus. More PC MPPs spoke out against a subsequent motion after they were given a free vote and the ban remained in place.

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After the vote, Ford told reporters it was a “very sensitive subject” for some in his caucus.

Even with the ban in place, Jama has worn a keffiyeh inside the chamber. On Tuesday, Arnott said he did not intervene when the independent MPP challenged the ban because she was sitting far from her position, and could not clearly determine what she had.

Click to play video: 'Israel-Hamas conflict: MPP should be 'ashamed' for describing Gaza as 'apartheid,' says Jewish group '

Israel-Hamas conflict: MPP should be ‘ashamed’ of describing Gaza as ‘apartheid’, says Jewish group

On Thursday, the Speaker asked Jama to either remove the clothing item or leave the chamber. She refused to do either and was impeached, meaning she had to leave the legislature floor and could not return for the rest of the day.

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“I must warn the member for the Hamilton Centre. Sarah Jama, you are named. You must leave the chamber,” Arnott said. “As a result of being named, the member is, for the rest of the day, ineligible to vote on matters before the assembly; be present and take part in any committee proceedings; use the media studio; and serving notices of motion, written questions and petitions.”

Jama did not leave the chamber when she was told, although she said she was unable to participate in a vote after the question period.

Arnott said when Jama refused to leave the chamber, he decided not to forcibly remove him.

“There was no way I could pull it off, short of physical force,” he said. “I wasn’t ready to do that or order it.”

Click to play video: 'Focus Ontario: Jama Out of NDP Caucus'

Ontario Focus: Jama Out of NDP Caucus

Jama told reporters she felt the rules were being “arbitrarily applied” in the house and said she wore the keffiyeh before the conflict between Israel and Hamas. He said that wearing it is the “least” that can be done to draw attention to humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip.

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Jama said she would continue to wear the keffiyeh inside the legislature.

“Absolutely, I’ll be back,” he said. “I will definitely continue as I am here to continue wearing it.”

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles and members of the Liberal and Green caucuses are calling on the government to reverse the ban and allow the keffiyeh to be worn in the chamber and on the grounds of the legislative assembly.

On Thursday, the Ontario Federation of Labor also labeled the ban as “racist and discriminatory” in a statement.

Lawmakers are not sitting next week, starting April 29, and will return to the house on Monday, May 6.

& copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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