A woman who was denied a haircut by a Muslim barber who said his faith prevented him from touching a woman, has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
Faith McGregor, 35, opted to go to a barber's for her haircut as she wanted a man's cut. She chose the Terminal Barber Shop in Toronto, the choice of former Prime Minister Paul Martin. The shop is owned and staffed by Muslims who regard it as haram (forbidden) to touch a woman they are not related to.
Co-owner of the barber's shop, Omar Mahrouk, refused to cut McGregor's hair because it was against his faith. Fellow co-owner Karim Saaden explained:
"We live for our values. We are people who have values and we hold on to it. I am not going to change what the faith has stated to us to do. This is not extreme — this is just a basic value that we follow." (Al Arabiya)
McGregor refused to be placated and said that the refusal to cut her hair made her feel like a “second-class citizen" because of her gender. She said:
“For me it was just a haircut and started out about me being a woman. Now we’re talking about religion versus gender versus human rights and businesses in Ontario."
She has now filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, hoping to force the shop to display a sign saying it serves both men and women. Pascale Demers, spokesman for the Tribunal, said the case could set an important precedent because "Ontario’s population is increasingly diverse and these things are bound to happen" the Star reported.