The National Post – December 14, 2010
The remains of a Canadian diplomat buried in Turkey were reportedly forcibly removed from a local cemetery after a prominent Muslim family said they weren’t comfortable praying next to a Christian grave. Hans-Joachim Himmelsbach, 65, a retired trade commissioner from Vancouver who was living in Turkey, died about three weeks ago after suffering a blood clot to his brain while he was recovering from a throat operation, his stepfather, Heinz Koletzko, said in an interview.
Mr. Himmelsbach was buried in a Christian ceremony at a local cemetery in Bodrum, a tourist resort community on Turkey’s south Aegean coast. Mr. Himmelsbach’s family obtained permission from the municipality for a priest to perform the ceremony, Mr. Koletzko said, as is required in Turkey for religious groups not officially recognized by the state.
But his wife, Ilknur Himmelsbach, a Turkish citizen, told the Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review that Mr. Himmelsbach’s grave was recently moved against her wishes to a remote area of the cemetery at the request of a local Muslim businessman who felt Mr. Himmelsbach was buried too close to the family plot.
The National Post – December 17, 2010
After eliminating denominational education from schools, the Quebec government announced plans to extend its ban on religious instruction to toddlers. The new policy will make it illegal for workers in the province’s network of subsidized daycares to teach their charges, aged five and under, about a specific religion. Teaching religious songs, including many Christmas carols, will be off limits, as will crafts with a religious connotation. Government inspectors will enforce the rules beginning next June.
The initiative was sparked by media reports last spring that some subsidized daycares in the province were offering Muslim and Jewish programs to toddlers.
Under a system created in 1997, parents pay just $7 a day to send their children to state-subsidized daycare. The government covers the balance, approximately $40 a day. There are currently about 2,000 subsidized daycares in the province offering spaces for more than 120,000 children. Ms. James said a tiny minority of those facilities — about 100 — currently offer some degree of religious instruction.
The Muslim Council of Montreal said it hopes to mount a legal challenge to the new policy. “We view it as explicit discrimination against the rights of religious communities to educate their children in the values and principles they hold dear,” said Salam Elmenyawi, the council’s president.