MUSLIM MOTHER FILES CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT AGAINST COSTCO AFTER BEING TOLD TO “GO BACK TO YOUR HOME COUNTRY”
Montreal, October 30, 2015 — A Muslim mother will file a civil rights complaint against Costco and a sales clerk after being told by the latter to “go back to your home country.”
On Sunday, October 18, 2015, at approximately 5.00 pm, Ms. Asma Al-Shawarghi, Executive Director for Go Canada Academic and Immigration Services, went to the Costco store on Acadie Blvd. She is Muslim and wears a hijab. She was with her two children, aged 2 and 7, and her husband's aunt. She was checking winter coats and their prices.
She asked a female sales representative, a Québécoise in her fifties, whether a coat she wanted to buy was warm enough for weather of -40 C. The sales representative coldly replied in English that there was no coat that could keep a person warm in -40 C weather, and that at -40 C, one stays home.
Then, the sales representative said to Asma, “If you don't like that, go back to your home country.” Stunned by the out-of-the-blue comment, Asma replied that Canada is her country and that she is a Canadian citizen.
The sales representative ignored her and served another customer. Still taken aback by the comment, Asma walked away with her two children.
Extremely upset, Asma tried to explain to her husband's aunt (who was shopping elsewhere in the store) what had happened. She had to explain to her oldest daughter what had just happened, which was a very painful experience. When she later talked to her husband about the incident, he was furious and humiliated to see his wife and children treated in such a manner.
Deeply bothered by the incident, Asma went back to the store last Sunday and spoke to the manager's assistant, who took her phone number and promised to call her.
A representative of Costco called her on Monday to discuss the incident and informed her that she would call her back. They discussed again on the phone yesterday about the incident.
After reviewing the situation with her husband, who was involved in student advocacy at Concordia University and who helps immigrants settle in Quebec, Asma decided to file a complaint with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission. She believes that in the present social climate tainted by Islamophobia, xenophobia and sexism, Muslim women like her are in a position to take strong and firm action to combat this form of intolerance.
“I hear of so many stories of Muslim women being harassed, insulted and assaulted because they wear a hijab, but who are too afraid or distrustful of the justice system to do anything,” she said.
“And then I look at my husband, myself and my children, and I say, “This land is our land,” and I can't stay silent any longer. We have to stamp out anti-Muslim words and deeds because we are Canadians with fundamental rights and duties to uphold Canadian values, such as equality and diversity,” she noted.
CRARR will file, next week, a complaint on her behalf.