Ontario parliament
Ontario parliamentiStock

A parliamentarian from the Canadian province of Ontario was asked to leave the legislature for wearing a keffiyeh on Thursday, CityNews reported.

The move comes a week after the Speaker of the House, Ted Arnott, banned the wearing of the traditional Muslim scarves, claiming it appeared to him the keffiyeh was being worn to make a political statement.

Keffiyehs have regularly been spotted in the crowds of pro-Palestinian Arab rallies in Toronto over the last several months.

The keffiyeh ban caused an uproar and prompted Premier Doug Ford to call for the reversal of the decision.

Independent MPP Sarah Jama, who represents Hamilton Centre, was asked to remove the keffiyeh, but refused. She was then asked to leave but refused to do so and remained in the chamber.

Jama said she was wearing a keffiyeh before and will continue to wear it, reminding people it is a cultural cloth. “Absolutely, I’ll be back I don’t know about this afternoon, but I’ll definitely continue as [long as] I’m here to continue to wear it.”

When asked about how wearing it has become a political statement, Jama said she isn’t the one making it political.

“Every party leader has spoken up about how this ban shouldn’t exist. The Premier has spoken about this ban, this ban needing to not exist and yet his own members, the PCs are the one consistently saying no to the removal of this ban. The Conservatives are making this political, the NDP, the liberals, the Greens have all said that the suspension should be removed,” said Jama, according to CityNews.

NDP Leader Marit Stiles called Jama being asked to leave “outrageous,” and said she was “absolutely appalled” by the attempt to silence and remove a member. Jama was previously a member of the NDP but was removed from the party in October after making a controversial comment about the war in Gaza.

When asked about the decision to kick Jama out of the legislature, Premier Ford said, “The speaker is the one who runs the legislature.”

Asked what might happen if Jama continues to wear the keffiyeh, Speaker Arnott replied, “I don’t know what her intentions are for the future … I will respond as speaker, according to the standing orders to enforce the standing.”

Toronto and the area have seen an increase in anti-Israel riots and acts of antisemitism since the start of Israel’s war against Hamas on October 7.

In early November, an Indigo book store in downtown Toronto was vandalized with red paint and posters plastered on its front windows wrongfully accusing its Jewish founder and CEO, Heather Reisman, of “Funding Genocide.”

In January, a Jewish-owned grocery store in Toronto was spray-painted with the words “Free Palestine” and later set on fire.

Days later, Toronto police arrested four people on a highway overpass, located near a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, that has become the site of recurring pro-Palestinian Arab protests.

Two weeks ago, posters in Toronto depicting four-year-old Ariel Bibas and one-year-old Kfir Bibas, who were kidnapped to Gaza on October 7 along with their parents Shiri and Yarden Bibas, were vandalized with swastikas.