After mosque attack in Canada, critics point to anti-immigrant ‘trash radio’

The mayor of Quebec, Régis Labeaume along with Primier Philippe Couillard acknowledged that xenophobia and hate was being spread by what they call  “radio poubelle,” or “trash radio.” Quebec City has developed the dubious reputation of being Canada’s ­capital of shock jocks, online ­radio hosts who love to provoke with outrageous talk about women, homosexuals and Muslims.

Labeaume, appeared to criticize the radio stations. Speaking at an outdoor vigil in memory of the victims Monday evening, he denounced those who “get rich from peddling hatred.”  While Couillard acknowledged Tuesday that the province has “its demons” and that “xenophobia, racism and exclusion are present here.” But he told reporters that Quebec society is generally open and tolerant.

There is no indication that the man charged in the attack, Alexandre Bissonnette, was particularly influenced by trash radio, but members of the Muslim community were quick to complain about the corrosive impact of the anti-immigrant rhetoric heard on the city’s airwaves.

Canadians form ‘rings of peace’ around mosques after Quebec shooting

Hundreds across Canada gathered around mosques to form protective barriers – described by organisers as “human shields” and “rings of peace” – as Muslims in the country marked their first Friday prayers since a gunman shot dead six men who were praying at a Quebec mosque.

“No Canadian should be afraid to go to their house of worship to pray,” Yael Splansky, the rabbi behind the effort to set up “rings of peace” around Toronto mosque told the Canadian Press.  “It’s a terrifying scene. Imagine people of faith going to pray in peace, to pray for peace, and to be at risk. Houses of worship are sacred and must be protected.”

But reports emerged of a mosque that had been vandalised just miles from where the funeral was taking place. A window at the Khadijah Masjid Islamic Centre had been smashed and the front door splattered with eggs, in an act described as “terrorism” by one city councillor.

Canadian Muslims encounter increasing hostility: Siddiqui

October 13, 2013

By Haroon Siddiqui

 

Jews have historically been falsely accused of wielding too much power. Now Canadian Muslims are, especially in Quebec.

A national poll has taken a measure of bigots who exaggerate the power of those they dislike. Nearly a third of Canadians believe Muslims have too much influence in their province. In Quebec, 43 per cent think so. This is ironic, given that Canadian Muslims report feeling under siege and helpless to stop the demonization directed at them because of Muslim mayhem elsewhere in the world.

A second poll corroborates the increasing hostility toward Muslims — again, more so in Quebec.

The findings come amid an ugly debate in Quebec over its plan to ban religious symbols and clothing, especially the hijab, for those on the public payroll. And there are increasing incidents of hijabi women being harassed — not just in Quebec but in Ontario and elsewhere.

Islam is the fastest growing religion in Canada, as it is in the U.S. and Europe. The 2011 national census estimated the Canadian Muslim population at 1,053 million, up 73 per cent since 2001. In Quebec, it is 243,500.

This week on Tuesday and Wednesday, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Adha, the festival that marks the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, a gathering of about three million, including an estimated 1,500 from Canada.

Forum Research Inc. asked a representative sample of 1,527 Canadians about theirperception of the power of minorities.

Thirty per cent say Muslims have too much power. Twenty-one per cent think that about the Sikhs. And 18 per cent each say that about Jews and “Asians” (Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, etc.)

In Quebec, suspicion of Muslims and Jews is much higher. While 43 per cent think that Muslims are too powerful, 32 per cent think that of Jews. Tellingly, more separatists think that way than others. “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia common among Indépendendistes,” reads the headline on the Forum findings.

“If the Charter of Quebec Values is an example of the Parti Québécois practising dog whistle politics, it appears there are plenty of ears tuned to that particular frequency,” says Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum.

I presented him with an argument: The poll merely quantifies the bigotry that’s always present in society; that he asked leading questions (“Do Muslims have too much influence in your province?”); and that respondents mouth off against whatever group is in the news negatively.

Bozinoff had a crisp answer: “Respondents had a right to say no but a great many didn’t. It was an IVR (interactive voice response) poll — people were pressing 1 and 2 on their phones in response to questions. There was no human being influencing them.

“The results are shocking but informative.”

An Angus Reid poll asked a sample of 2,025 Canadians — divided into Quebec and the rest of Canada — their views about different faiths.

Nearly 70 per cent of Quebecers don’t like Islam. In the rest of Canada, 54 per cent don’t.

Next on Quebecers’ hit list is Sikhism, disliked by 43 per cent, followed by Judaism, disliked by 41 per cent.

In the rest of Canada, 39 per cent view Sikhism negatively, 29 per cent Hinduism and 22 per cent Judaism.

Who holds the most negative views? Both polls point to the old, the less educated and the less wealthy.

Forum also shows that across Canada, Conservative supporters are more likely, 36 per cent, than supporters of other parties to presume that Muslims are too powerful. In Quebec, 47 per cent of PQ and 53 per cent of Bloc Québécois supporters think so.

Angus Reid shows that younger and university-educated Canadians hold more favourable opinions of non-Judeo-Christian religions.

We may shrug off all this as a passing phenomenon.

After all, similar views have been held in the past against Catholics, Japanese, blacks and, especially, Jews. Over time, prejudices shift toward newer minorities, including by those who had once been victims of just such prejudice.

Or it may be that more people these days are willing to admit their biases and do so with a stridency we used to think of as un-Canadian.

Still, Shachi Kurl of Angus Reid says that leaving aside Quebec, the results do suggest that the rest of Canada, while more open-minded than Quebec, “may be operating under a veneer of acceptance rather than actual acceptance” of religious minorities.

For sure, Canada is not immune from post-9/11 fear of Muslims. We see that in the crude public discourse, especially in right-wing media and among some politicians, especially in Quebec, who feed at the Islamophobic trough.

 

The Star: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2013/10/13/canadian_muslims_encounter_increasing_hostility_siddiqui.html

Quebec monitors lamb sacrifices during Eid

CBC – October 26, 2012

Quebec’s Agricultural Ministry ieyed many farms as thousands of Muslims took part in traditional lamb sacrifices to celebrate the Eid al-Adha. The Muslim Canadian Congress said it is pleased with the government’s decision to ensure regulations are respected during the religious celebration.

Mayor of Mont-Saint-Grégoire Suzanne Boulais, a town about 50 kilometres southeast of Montreal, also kept a close eye on a nearby farm. “I have no problem with Muslims slaughtering lambs, but it must be done legally,” she said. “This person does not have a permit for a slaughterhouse, and it’s not in a zone where the municipality allows it.” Fines for such charges can cost between $5,000 and $15,000. A second offence could cost someone up to $45,000. In the last five years, nine people have been charged with operating illegal abattoirs.

Afghan-Canadian Mother allegedly stabs daughter in the chest

News agencies – September 26, 2012

 

For months, Bahar Ebrahimi had been rebelling against her parents, complaining their Afghan culture and Muslim religion were suffocating her. It was June 2010, Grand Prix weekend in downtown Montreal, and on two straight nights the 19-year-old stayed out past dawn against her parents’ wishes. For her mother, Johra Kaleki, the behaviour confirmed that all her efforts to steer her eldest daughter on the right path had failed. “I felt like she would never be fixed,” she told Sgt.-Det. Alexandre Bertrand in an interrogation video played in Quebec Court. As her crying husband spoke to Bahar in the basement of their Dorval home, Ms. Kaleki went upstairs and grabbed a large knife from the kitchen counter, the one she used to chop meat, she recounted. Bahar survived the attack, suffering serious knife wounds to her head and shoulder. Ms. Kaleki, 40, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and illegal use of a weapon.

 

The hearing this week before Judge Yves Paradis is to determine whether the video and other statements made by Ms. Kaleki can be entered into evidence during the trial, which is scheduled to begin in January 2013.

Parti Quebecois: Crucifixes in, hijabs and monarchy out

News Agencies – August 15, 2012

 

Pauline Marois’s vision for Quebec includes fewer hijabs and fewer symbols of the Crown. She announced that if her Parti Quebecois wins the Sept. 4 election [ed note: they did], it will introduce a Charter of Secularism that would forbid public employees from wearing religious symbols on the job — like Muslim head scarves.

But the Charter of Secularism, it seems, would not be applied evenly. The ban on religious symbols would not extend to employees who wear a crucifix necklace. Nor would it extend to the crucifix hanging in the legislature, which Marois says is part of Quebec’s heritage. The ban on religious symbols would extend, however, to some non-religious aspects of Quebec’s history as selected by the PQ.

Artistic references to the monarchy would also disappear from the legislature under Marois’ watch. She allowed that “some moldings” might remain.

Marois made her secularism announcement on land belonging to a Christian religious order. She was accompanied by one of her candidates, Algerian-born Djemila Benhabib, an author who has been deeply critical of Islamic fundamentalism and a vocal proponent of secularism.

Parti Quebecois slams halal meat production

News Agencies – March 14, 2012

The Parti Québécois is sounding the alarm bell over an Islamic food ritual, calling slaughter for halal meat an affront not only to the rights of animals but to the values cherished by Quebecers. The pro-independence party recently declared its concerns about halal animal-rights standards, and is worried that mainstream companies are selling the meat, without any labelling, to unsuspecting Québécois customers.

Not to be outdone, the fledgling Coalition For Quebec’s Future (CAQ) concurred later that consumers should have the right to choose which product they buy and halal products must be labelled. The halal flap is the latest iteration of Quebec’s identity debates, which have raged on Montreal’s populist talk radio in recent days.

The PQ is now demanding a report on the halal situation from the provincial government, by March 23. The opposition party wants to know how many companies are involved in producing halal meat, and how many animals are being slaughtered per year under Islamic rituals. It says it’s concerned about animal rights, in addition to potential food contamination.

The company at the centre of the political storm expressed bewilderment over all the fuss. Olymel, a meat-processing giant with plants in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, said it obtained a halal certification for one of its poultry plants two years ago after some clients requested it.

The clients wanted to label Olymel-produced meat with the certification when they sold it.

But Olymel spokesman Richard Vigneault said his company’s products are processed under all required food safety and quality control standards mandated by the federal government. “In no way we’re practicing traditional halal slaughtering — no way,” he said in a telephone interview. “In matter of fact, this [halal] certification has changed nothing about our slaughtering.”

Soccer group agrees to test hijabs for female players

Muslim female soccer players are celebrating a decision by the International Football Association Board to allow them to test specially designed head coverings for four months.

Soccer’s international governing body, known as FIFA, has prohibited headscarves since 2007, citing safety concerns. The new headscarves will be fastened with Velcro rather than pins.

The headscarf prohibition has generated controversy among fans of the world’s most popular team sport, especially in Muslim countries in Africa, the Middle East and central Asia.

In Canada, Quebec’s Lac St. Louis Regional Soccer Association barred a referee from a game in 2011 because she wore a headscarf, citing prohibitions against religious symbols on uniforms. During a 2007 youth tournament in Quebec, a Muslim player was ejected from a game for wearing a headscarf.

Lawsuit alleges workplace quip made Canadian Muslim a terrorist suspect

News Agencies – February 2, 2011

A Quebecois Muslim man alleges he’s become a terror suspect simply because of a workplace quip — he says all he did was tell his sales staff to “blow away” the competition at a trade show. Now Saad Allami is seeking $100,000 from the Quebec provincial police force, one of its sergeants and the provincial Justice Department. Allami says in a Quebec Superior Court filing that he was arrested in January 2011 and accused of being a terrorist because of a pep talk he gave fellow employees.

Allami was a sales manager for a telecommunications firm when he sent out a text message to staff urging them to “blow away” the competition at a New York City convention. He alleges that, three days later, he was arrested without warning by Quebec provincial police and detained for over a day while his house was searched. Allami says he has no links to terrorist organizations or the Islamic movement and that police acted without any evidence or research.

Mosque in Gatineau, Quebec attacked for second time

News Agencies – January 5, 2012

A second attack in three days on a local mosque is prompting renewed calls for a hate-crime investigation from a Canadian Muslim organization. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the move after the mosque was found spray painted with hate messages earlier this week. The attack follows the smashing of windows at the mosque and an attempt to torch two cars in its parking lot.

The organization says it is not the first time the mosque has been the target of vandals and it cites similar attacks on mosques in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, Waterloo and Vancouver. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper also condemned the attacks.