Radio Tadamon! Facing Racism in Quebec.


    Produced for Radio Tadamon! by Stefan Christoff.


    Download / Podcast the program from the Rabble Podcast Network.

In Canada, a state commission on “Reasonable Accommodation” regarding the rights of minorities and new immigrants in Quebec has created a storm of controversy. This edition of Radio Tadamon! features Indu Vashist, a community organizer in Montreal and May Hayder of Al-Hidaya Association presenting alternative perspectives on ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ to the government sponsored commission.

State-sponsored hearings began last week and will end in late November 2007 in Montreal, Quebec, after touring the province. Islam has been at the center of the political storm, as the rights of Muslim women are being fiercely debated throughout Quebec by non-Muslims, in the context of a series of state sponsored hearings.

“Reasonable Accommodation” toward new immigrants, has emerged as a buzz phrase in Canadian politics surrounding this Quebec debate. At the ongoing commission multiple citizens are speaking directly against the idea of accommodating religious minorities.

Quebec’s debate surrounding minority rights made international headlines this past year, when the town of Herouxville passed a municipal code, which informed immigrants that, quote, “the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here,” including Islamic practices like the Hijab.

Government sponsored hearings on the rights of new immigrants in Quebec will continue until the end of November, at which time the commission will land in Montreal, where counter activities are being organized.

* Radio Tadamon! is produced by the Tadamon! collective, a group of social justice activists working to build ties of solidarity between movements for social / economic justice in the Middle East / Montreal, while organizing within the Diaspora community of Montreal.


I’ve been following the Boucher-Taylor commission concerning the “reasonable accommodation”, and most of the shocking and disgusting comments regarding Islam reveal that the people expressing these comments are ignorant and intolerant.

One of the comments that keep on repeating is the matter imposing of the Islamic law in Canada. I find it totally unreasonable for people to think that Canadian Muslims are going to impose Islamic law in Canada, even if one day they become a majority. (Only 2% of Canadians are Muslims)

By simply looking at the countries where Muslims are actually a majority, with the exception of some countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, Hijab is not imposed on anybody. In most countries where Muslims, Islamic law is not even imposed on Muslims themselves, Not all Muslim women of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco…etc wear the hijab and many Muslims don’t even practice their religion. In most countries where Muslims are majority, people from other religions like Christians, Jews and Buddhists (in Malaysia for example) practice their own religions and values with no restrictions.

In addition, by looking at the history of the Arab world, Christian and Jews had the right to practice their religion freely and the proof to this is that these religions did not disappear in the Arab world even after 800 years.

So how could someone believe that Muslims will impose their laws on Canadians!!!

And regarding the Hijab issue, the charter of rights and freedom gives the right of religion and right of expression. Everyone has the right to practice his religion and to express freely, including wearing whatever she/he likes.

It is clear that what we are seeing today in Québec is a high degree of fear and intolerance ignited by a high degree of ignorance and prejudice. I think that some Quebecers, led by their obsession in the independence and the fear of cultural extinction, are acting in a racist and xenophobic matter that could lead them to actions of violence and hate crimes against other races and ethnicities.

Therefore, I think that the governments of Canada and Quebec and the Canadian people should act as soon as possible to solve this crisis before the chambers of Herouxville opens its doors.

Comment by Ramy — October 26th, 2007 @ 1:30 AM

In parallel with B-T ‘Le Devoir’ has asked readers to submit texts on their vision of an ideal, at least a better, Quebec. A recent contribution by a sociologist concludes– “Je rêve d’un Québec interculturel dans lequel tous accepteraient qu’il y ait un socle commun de valeurs quasi incontournables: le français, la laïcité, l’égalité des sexes et l’acceptation selon laquelle ce n’est pas la route violente qui mène à une société désirable et émouvante”. What does a close reading of this dream tell us? It tells us that a Quebec raised up un this “pedastel of common values” is a society that is fully compatible with a bit of slavery and with stoning as a punishment of men and women who, for example, commit adultery. That these things must be done in French and by, through or under a government that in some way separates public power and religion does not interfere with their being done, and that in full disregard of gender. Nor is the prohibition of violence an obstacle. It is, yes, for an uprising of slaves which may entail violence, but the interdiction is not an impediment to the institution of slavery. St. Paul told Christian slave owners to treat their Christian slaves kindly and he told the latter to gracefully submit themselves to the will of their masters. It can be done as well through secular teaching.

Nor is the injunction against violence a protection against stoning in the given sense. An example shows this. If I lock up someone, say for five years, I would have committed a cruel, perhaps vicious, crime. When the State does the same after a trial we sometimes wonder if it’s long enough.

So, to repeat, a close reading of the text brings to light an unexpected and unpleasant surprise. Did the author intend what we say he wrote? We can suppose that, in addition to the four fundamental values he identified there are other unnamed fundamental values that we just know of, take for granted. These would block a society with slavery and so on.

In fact the sociologist gives some evidence for this. He does not claim that his four fundamentals are inescapably or imperatively fundamental; he claims they are “almost”, “nearly”, perhaps only “seemingly” or “not really” (quasi) inescapably basic. But since he fails to tell us under what conditions, in what circumstances, the four pillar values do not predominate, and since he fails to tell us what non-identified and assumed values sometimes do predominate, and in what situations they so do, it turns out he has not told us anything of interest at all. His message is that an ideal Quebec should have an unspecified number of some assortment of basic common values which include the four named.

Is ‘nullity’ the only conclusion? I think not. Whatever else can be said, the explicit choice for naming “laïcité”, gender equality and non-violence as basic values must be read and understood in its present context which is, if you will bear the reminder, a mistrust when not hate of Muslims. And why do we mistrust, and worse, them?
They believe, promote and practice exactly what are the opposites of these three pillar values (although they do it, we have to admit, in an often impeccable French).
With this in mind I suggest the choice of the pillar values has a special motivation.

No-one likes to admit being prejudiced, being a racist. When we expect, insist, Muslims change their ways, become ‘integrated’, we do so for the best of reasons. We have some basic values here in Quebec, and these common ideals should, must, be shared by all who live here.

Thus, it seems to me, reprehensible racism is clothed in virtue.

Richard Rothschild

Comment by Richard Rothschild — October 29th, 2007 @ 6:04 PM

There is a second comment but it’s not below but above, starting at—
“In parallel with B-T…”
Sorry about that.

You will find a consistency in my misspelling of pedestal. I hope there are no errors more serious than that.

Richard Rothschild

Comment by Richard Rothschild — October 29th, 2007 @ 8:40 PM

Les chrétiens en Egypte sont des citoyens de second ordre, ils n,ont pas le droit de construire de nouvelles églises, ni même de réparer les anciennes, les jeunes femmes non voilées sont insultées dans les rues.Il est criminel de convertire un musulmans au christianisme tandis que les musulmans viennent au Canada construisent des mosqués et convertissent à l’islam autant qu’ils veulent. Poeus les musulmans un chrétien ou un juif est fils de cochon ou de singe, voilà ce qu’ils apprennnent à leurs enfants dans leurs écoles islamiques!

Comment by Youssef Salib — November 9th, 2007 @ 4:17 PM

Habs inside/out site is part of the Gazette, a hockey forum for Montreal fans. However, there is a growing number of fans that post anti Francophone remarks and the moderators tolerate it. This should not be a;;owed in this day and age, especially when Les Habs have always been a uniting force for our city..Please Hba inside/out, get rid of the racism on your site.

Comment by Yates — February 13th, 2008 @ 1:52 AM

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