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An Ontario MPP’s open defiance of a ban on keffiyehs in the legislature is going unpunished.

Independent MPP Sarah Jama wore the Palestinian scarf in the Ontario legislature Tuesday despite a controversial ban implemented by Speaker Ted Arnott.

According to a spokesperson for Queen’s Park, Jama was not removed from the legislature for wearing the keffiyeh in protest.

Arnott’s decision to ban the keffiyeh came after “extensive research” led him to conclude the scarf is a political symbol rather than a cultural one and therefore should not be allowed in the legislature as per long standing rules of decorum.

The keffiyeh has been a symbol of armed resistance against Israel since the Arab Revolt in Palestine in 1935, which demanded an end to Jewish immigration and British rule.

Less than three minutes into question period, at least four protesters displaying keffiyehs disrupted the legislature.

This comes after several PC MPPs objected to a motion from NDP leader Marit Stiles seeking to overturn the ban. This was Stiles’ second attempt at the motion, which requires unanimous consent. In the first failed vote, PC MPP Robin Martin was the only one to audibly oppose the motion.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Martin defended her support for Arnott’s ban.

“These rules exist to keep the peace in our democratic institutions and to ensure that we use only our words to debate and persuade each other.  I believe these rules are important to the proper functioning of the legislature and must be upheld,” she said. “I cannot, in good conscience, agree to a statement that I know is objectively false.”

She said despite her suspicions she may personally face political repercussions for her stance, she can’t in good conscience agree to a statement she views as objectively false.

“To agree to a motion similar to the one put forward on Thursday by MPP Stiles, which declares the keffiyeh to be a cultural symbol and not a political one, would be to deny the fact and reality that it has taken on an inherent political meaning, particularly at this time,” Martin said.

She called on her fellow MPPs to reconsider what she called a divisive motion, and called for unity in ending “very real acts of hatred and intolerance that have become all too common in Ontario.”

During discussion of the motion Tuesday, protesters interrupted PC house leader Paul Calandra as he defended against Stiles demands for Premier Doug Ford, who wasn’t present, to force his party to vote unanimously to reverse the keffiyeh ban.

“It is not in the tradition of the (PC party) to compel its members to do anything. There was a free vote and members on whatever side of the house expressed their opinions on that,” Calandra said.

Stiles likened the ban to cultural erasure and colonial oppression before calling on the PCs to unanimously vote again to reverse the ban.

“We observe Truth and Reconciliation Day to acknowledge the impact of colonial oppression and the erasure of at times and at times criminalization of cultural symbols,” Stiles said.

Before Calandra was able to fully articulate a response he was interrupted and the speaker called for a recess, during which many PC MPPs left the chamber.

“Free, free Palestine!” one protester called out while a single security officer was seen asking him to leave.

One PC MPP can be heard saying “You got exactly what you wanted Marit!”

On the same day, members of the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association, who had a meeting scheduled with Stiles were barred from entering Queen’s Park after refusing to take off their keffiyehs.