Archive for Quebec

Mosque Vandalized in Gatineau, Quebec: The Worst Society Has to Offer

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon People, Loon Violence with tags , , , , , , on January 9, 2012 by loonwatch
Quebec Mosque
A Star of David and anti-Arab slurs were spray-painted at a mosque in Quebec

Harper condemns ‘heinous attacks’ on Gatineau mosque

Prime Minister Stephen Harper took time this week to condemn an attack by vandals at a mosque in Gatineau, Que., across the river from Ottawa.

“Our government strongly condemns these heinous attacks that have been terrorizing the whole community,” the Prime Minister said in a statement in French.

Bernie Farber, former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress, wrote an Op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen about the importance of protecting those who face such despicable acts of racism as the vandalism of the Gatineau Mosque. 

Op-ed: The worst society has to offer

It’s difficult for those who have never experienced unbridled hatred to feel the pain that congregants of a Gatineau Mosque must be feeling today. Over the last two weeks hateful vandals have smashed windows, tried to torch cars in their parking lot and spray-painted anti-Islamic graffiti including of all things “Stars of David,” on the Mosque’s doors and windows.

Five hours west of Gatineau in the sleepy GTA bedroom community of Newmarket, Rita Brown and her partner Seun Oyinsan awoke Christmas morning to find that racist vandals had scratched an ugly epithet on the hood of their car. You see Rita and Seun are a mixedrace couple and it seems that there are at least a bigoted few in Newmarket who have yet to enter the 21st century.

Incredibly this was not the first such racist attack on this couple. In early September they were the victims of two other attacks. Swastikas and that despicable “N”-word were spray painted and scratched on the couple’s garage and van. The van also was defaced with acid and sharp nails embedded into small pieces of wood were placed under the tires. Ominously all this was followed by a warning that Rita and Seun were “not wanted in Newmarket” with a threat of violence.

In Newmarket there has been an outpouring of support. Local community newspapers have editorialized and condemned the actions. Neighbours and friends have rallied to the side of the beleaguered couple. In Gatineau condemnation came from the very top; Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke out strongly, as has mainstream Jewish leadership all too familiar with such faith-based attacks.

Sadly some used newspaper online comments to remind us that there still remain a small number of bigotry’s fellow travellers.

Regarding the Newmarket attack one poster wrote: “I will bet a loonie or toonie that they did it themselves, they over paid for their house, couldn’t sell it and are using ‘racism’ to gain sympathy. They know some braindead liberal with White Guilt will swoop in and save the day.”

Sadly similar comments were also found online pertaining to the Gatineau incident: “This appears to be an inside job by one of the congregation trying to put the blame on Jews by spray painting the Star of David on the door …”

Thankfully, here in Canada, like most of the western world, we have created anti-hate laws as a fence of protection from the very worst society has to offer. Laws prohibiting the vilest of racist expression make it a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in jail. Acts of violence and property destruction motivated by hatred can add months and even years to a sentence.

Recently there has been a debate raging here in Canada regarding the necessity of antihate laws. There are those who believe that any restriction on speech whatsoever is an infringement on our valued right to free-speech. In 1990 the Supreme Court of Canada upheld our anti-hate laws by a slim margin. While it found that such laws were a limitation on speech, given the serious need to ensure protection of vulnerable minorities such an infringement, it argued, was justified.

I agree. We are a democracy based on justice and law. We understand that human beings are far from perfect, hence we created laws to protect society. Anti-hate laws are a kind of insurance for the future. Such laws help define us as a tolerant society. To be sure we must find the correct balance between freedom of expression and the right to equality that we all share.

Rita Brown, her partner Seun Oyinsan and congregants of the Gatineau Mosque have the right, as do we all, to live in safety, free from hatred and vilification. We have the responsibility as a nation to protect identifiable groups as defined in law from the contemptible few who find hatred their oxygen of life.

As we enter a New Year let us join hands with Rita, Seun and the Islamic community of Gatineau and wish them strength for a better 2012. Let us also hope that those who committed these despicable crimes are apprehended and face the full force of Canada’s anti-hate laws.

Bernie Farber is the former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress. He writes often on human and civil rights issues.

Quebec Predictably Follows France’s Lead

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2010 by loonwatch

niqab

The Niqab issue has hit North American shores. Is it a result of the divisive dialogue and law slated for spring in France that will effectively ban the face veil? This seems likely as Quebec, the French speaking Canadian province seems to be headed in the same direction.

The veil is a hot topic of debate even amongst Muslims but one point that both sides of the debate, those who do and don’t find the face veil to be an obstacle can agree upon is that it is not the job of the government to legislate what women can and cannot wear. It seems to be the height of intrusiveness for a government to inject itself into the wardrobes of women. Western nations who pride themselves on being democracies and valuing freedom should know better then to do that.

Quebec Body Rules Against Right to Wear Niqab

A woman wearing the niqab cannot demand to be served by another woman when dealing with the Quebec Health Insurance Board, Quebec’s human-rights commission has ruled.

Concluding that religious beliefs cannot stand in the way of gender equality, the commission found that when a woman wearing the Islamic face covering is required to identify herself and proceed with the photo session needed to produce a health insurance card, the Health Insurance Board has no obligation to accommodate her request to be served by a woman.

“Since freedom of religion was not significantly undermined, there is no obligation to grant an accommodation,” the order states.

The health board had previously agreed to such requests. But last fall critics argued that the health board was acceding to religious fundamentalism.

The decision was greeted with approval in Quebec’s National Assembly yesterday by MNAs of all political stripes.

Immigration Minister Yolande James suggested the ruling will form the basis of new guidelines on religious accommodation for public services, following on the action taken last week to bar a woman from attending a free French language class for immigrants unless she agreed to take off her niqab.

Globe and Mail, 17 March 2010

Not the best video from the Young Turks but interesting nonetheless. I particularly agree with the guy about how speaking with a face veil is not an obstacle in understanding or learning.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/user/TheYoungTurks#p/u/9/_1D_0CLBZVY 350 300]

In the end this is about free choice, a choice that does not effect anyone else, a choice that does not hinder a woman from going about the normal activities of daily life. Next we are going to be hearing about grocery stores not allowing people in who wear the face veil.