9 year old Quebec girl banned from soccer game for wearing hijab

Once again, Quebec has solidified its reputation as one of Canada's most culturally intolerant provinces.

La Belle Provence went through their "reasonable accommodation" debate a few years ago and enacted legislation which essentially restricted Muslim women from wearing a Niqab when working in the public sector or doing business with government officials.

Last year, the province's National Assembly unanimously voted to bar the Sikh kirpan from the legislative buildings. (The kirpan is accommodated across Canada, including in the House of Commons and the Supreme Court of Canada.)

Now the victim of the province's collective hard-line stance against cultural 'freedoms' is a 9 year old girl who just wanted to play soccer.

Just days after soccer's international governing body -- FIFA -- allowed Muslim female players to wear headscarves during matches, a young Quebec girl was sent off the pitch in Gatineau for wearing a hijab.

According to PostMedia News , nine year old Rayane Benatti was told to take off her headscarf "for safety reasons, before her team played the final match of a soccer tournament on Sunday. Benatti refused and, as a result, was forced to stand on the sidelines.

"It made me feel very sad," she said Monday. "I love soccer."

Last week, FIFA's International Football Association Board (IFAB) voted to lift its hijab ban, conceding that "there is no medical literature concerning injuries as a result of wearing a headscarf."

The Quebec Soccer Federation, however, says they'll wait until IFAB specifies what types of hijabs are allowed on the field.

"We still have to iron out exactly what kind of hijabs can be worn to create the safest environment possible for our players, so it will take a few months to come into effect," QSF spokesperson Michel Dugas told The Gazette on Monday.

"Right now, we're looking at October at the earliest."

Athletic commissions in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia have had rules in place that specifically allow their athletes to wear hijabs since 2005, but not in Quebec.

In 2007, an 11-year-old Ottawa girl was ejected from a soccer game in Laval, Que., after she refused to remove her hijab.

That year, a taekwondo team of Muslim girls withdrew from a tournament in Longueuil, Que., after they were told they couldn't compete in their hijabs.

And in 2011, 15 year old Sarah Benkirane was told she could no longer referee for Quebec's Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association because she wore a headscarf.

As for Benatti , she says she's going to continue to wear her hijab.

"I decided to wear the headscarf out of love for Allah," she said.

"Some people decide not to do it because they don't have enough courage. I had the courage to do it."

All she wanted to do was play soccer.