The class was designed to encourage open conversation among immigrant students, but one new arrival from Egypt refused to remove the veil covering her mouth.

Faced with an ultimatum from her school and the Quebec government that she expose her face, the mother of three decided to quit the French class instead.

The woman has launched a human-rights complaint against the province – the first involving a woman's right to wear the niqab in Quebec – and set off more debate over the lengths to which public institutions should go to accommodate Muslims.

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