The Bigotry That Armed the Quebec Mosque Attacker

TORONTO — On Sunday night, a gunman opened fire in a mosque in Quebec City, killing six people and wounding eight. Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, called the shootings a “terrorist attack on Muslims.”

Worshipers gunned down in a mosque — people here more readily associate such news with the United States than with Canada. That this happened in Quebec City has shocked many of us, myself included.

In Quebec, Islamophobia manifested itself in a series of sensational cases, in 2007 and 2008, over the “reasonable accommodation” of religious minorities, Muslims in particular. The provincial soccer federation barred hijab-wearing girls on the pretext of safety. It took an official commission to calm public nerves. Its 2008 report, which had the eminent philosopher Charles Taylor as an author, found there was no crisis: Sensationalist media coverage had distorted perceptions, but Muslims were not making unreasonable demands.

I remain an incurably optimistic Canadian, and I want to believe that Canada is still not the United States. But as Sunday’s attack showed, we face the challenge of undoing the damage of years of suspicion and bigotry.

National Post Opinion Writer Suggests Christianity is used as a tool to combat radical Islam in Quebec

The National Post – March 11, 2011
The report from the 2008 commission headed by sociologist Gérard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor was supposed to clarify, finally, the boundaries where secular politics and religious accommodation could reside comfortably in Quebec. But in the three years since making public their “reasonable accommodation” recommendations, things have only grown more tense, leading Mr. Bouchard last week to bemoan to a Montreal reporter the persistence of “division among the people.”

“A lot of the debate has been compounded by the growing presence of non-Christians in Canada,” says Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association for Canadian Studies. “There’s a significant percentage of people who are worried about the threat of non-Christian immigration, and the percentage is not declining.” Worries about hostile Islamists taking advantage of our open society are, he believes, “the dominant issue” hidden beneath the reasonable accommodation debate.

The confrontation doesn’t always look like it’s about Muslims. For decades, the Alberta government was just fine with allowing members of its Hutterite colonies to own special driver’s licences that had no photographs on them, as this conflicted with their beliefs. The province never mentioned any growing concern around Muslim veils, but called it a necessary security measure. But it’s a security measure exactly like the debate over whether veiled women should vote or whether Sikhs can bring kirpans in the National Assembly; post-9/11 any thinking about so-called security measures plainly considers radical Islam top of mind.

Le Figaro Article Describes Welcomed Immigrants in the Province of Quebec

Every year, the province of Quebec welcomes 45,000 immigrants whose religious traditions are largely _ respected. _ In their rapport stemming from the recent Reasonable Accomodation debates in the province, sociologist Gerard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor noted that _ the requests for religious holidays have become increasingly frequent, coming from Protestants, practicing members of the Jewish community, and from other faiths like Islam and Hinduism. _ Canadian Muslims, the article claims, often have prayer rooms available.

Bouchard Taylor Reasonable Accommodation Report (Canada)

The long-awaited 96-page report on “reasonable accommodation” was released last week in Québec, concluding that Quebecois can no longer define themselves in terms of their French-Canadian heritage and should accept immigrants more readily. Philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologist Gérald Bouchard based the report following hearings across the province and having reviewed more than 900 briefs submitted by the public. Of the 21 specific cases studied by the commission’s researchers, only six were found to have been reported in the media without distortion. The report concludes that high-profile incidents like prenatal classes that supposedly barred fathers to avoid offending Muslims and a maple-sugar shack that agreed to serve halal meals were overblown. The report states, “We can only ask ourselves what form debate would have taken if the public had obtained complete, objective information.” The hijab figures prominently in the commission’s findings. Prime Minister Jean Charest has promised to act quickly in response.

Details Emerge from the Bouchard Taylor Reasonable Accommodation Report

The long-awaited 96-page report on reasonable accommodation was released last week in Quebec, concluding that Quebecers can no longer define themselves in terms of their French-Canadian heritage and should accept immigrants more readily. Philosopher Charles Taylor and sociologist Gerald Bouchard based the report following hearings across the province and having reviewed more than 900 briefs submitted by the public. Of the 21 specific cases studied by the commission’s researchers, only six were found to have been reported in the media without distortion. The report concludes that high-profile incidents like prenatal classes that supposedly barred fathers to avoid offending Muslims and a maple-sugar shack that agreed to serve halal meals were overblown. The report states, We can only ask ourselves what form debate would have taken if the public had obtained complete, objective information. The hijab figures prominently in the commission’s findings. Prime Minister Jean Charest has promised to act quickly in response.

The Reasonable Accommodation recommendations from the province of Québec released

The report by sociologist G_rard Bouchard and philosopher Charles Taylor, based on their reasonable accommodation debates in the province, states that there is a problem of perception and not a problem with integrating immigrants. Bouchard and Taylor claim that both the francophone and immigrant communities must come together in a moral contract to ensure social harmony. Immigrants should learn French while the majority francophone population must also participate in the integration of Qu_bec society. The commission added that in trying to accommodate the needs of minorities, courts should be avoided. The province’s premier, Jean Charest, added, We cannot erase our history. The crucifix is about 350 years of history in Quebec that none of us are ever going to erase, and of a very strong presence, in particular of the Catholic Church.