In recent years, the few fully veiled Muslim women who had dealings with Quebec's health-insurance board could choose to be served by a woman to avoid exposing their faces to a man outside their family.

But in the latest example of the province's growing resistance to the accommodation of minority religious practices, the insurance board on Tuesday announced the end of the policy after the provincial human rights commission said it has no duty to acquiesce.

"From now on, for a woman who is veiled with a niqab or a burka and comes to our office asking to be photographed by a woman, the answer is no," said Marc Lortie, spokesman for the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec. "Line up again, or come back another day."

The news follows last week's expulsion from a French-as-a-second-language course of an Egyptian woman who insisted on wearing a niqab during class. It was the second school Naema Ahmed was expelled from for wearing the full face covering, which leaves only a slit for the eyes. Authorities at the first school had said her teacher was unable to properly assess her pronunciation without seeing her mouth.

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