Canadian actor apologises for derogatory comments about Muslim women

Quebec veteran actress and film personality Denise Filiatrault apologized Thursday night on Facebook and Twitter for derogatory comments she made about Muslim women who wear hijabs in an interview Tuesday on radio station 98.5 with Paul Arcand.

“Some of the words I used to describe veiled women … were clearly inappropriate and went beyond my thinking,” wrote Filiatrault, 82. “I apologize to anyone who was offended. I’ve always been very colourful in my way of expressing myself but I admit that this debate requires a more measured choice of words.”

During the radio interview, Filiatrault expressed her support for the ideas put forward by Janette Bertrand, who with 20 other women penned an “open letter” to Quebec women arguing in favour of the proposed Quebec Charter of Values, with its prohibition on civil servants, teachers and daycare workers among others wearing ostentatious religious symbols – like the hijab.

When told by Arcand that some women say they choose to wear the hijab, Filiatrault first said “That’s not true.” “These are men’s stories,” she said. “When (women) don’t wear it, they are reprimanded or worse… and in the end, they are thrown in the lake,” Filiatrault told radio listeners, apparently referring to the Shafia murders, where the patriarch of the family drowned his three daughters and his first wife near Kingston, Ont.

Then Filiatrault said women who choose to wear the hijab are “crazy”.

Montreal Gazette, 17 October 2013