Saïd Namouh thought his apartment in Trois-Rivières, Québec was an ideal location to plot jihad, far from the prying eyes of anti-terrorism investigators. But the Internet that allowed him to spread hatred from the boondocks also proved his undoing. The 36-year-old Moroccan was convicted of four terrorism charges.
Quebec Court Judge Claude Leblond ruled that far from simply exercising free speech, as the defense had argued, Namouh participated with “zeal and enthusiasm” in the planning of terrorist acts and the distribution of jihadist propaganda. The man described in court as a “spokesman for al-Qaeda” was found guilty of conspiring to commit a bomb attack in Europe, attempting to extort the governments of Austria and Germany with video threats, participating in a terrorist group and aiding a terrorist activity. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Namouh, who moved to Canada in 2003 after marrying a Quebec woman, was on the verge of leaving Canada when he was arrested. Online conversations showed he was headed for Egypt to meet with co-conspirators in a plot to carry out a terrorist bombing at an unknown location in Europe.
As his native France cooled in recent years to his increasingly publicly strident criticism of Jews, the French comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala has been able to count on Quebec for a soft landing. He has been the toast of French-language comedy festivals in the province and in 2008 chose to debut his latest show in Montreal. “Dieudonne: the clown isn’t funny anymore,” read a headline in Saturday’s Le Devoir. A senior aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week mused about having Dieudonne’s party and its “overtly anti-Semitic manifesto” barred from running in the election. Dieudonne is also facing legal action under French hate-speech law for a show in December 2008 in which he brought on stage notorious French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson and awarded him a prize for “unrespectability.”
Counterrorrist officials in the province of Quebec are searching for a man who has posted messages on the Internet forum called Minbarsos encouraging al-Qaeda to attack Canada. Under the pseudonym of Altar, the man wrote on September 25th, “the Canadian government supports the Americans. The government of Canada supports Israel. Canadian soldiers are sent to Afghanistan and Iraq. Now it’s Canada’s turn.”
The RCMP arrested a Moroccan man in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec last September for allegedly posting messages on the Web threatening terror attacks in Germany and Austria.
A similar case is reported by the Globe and Mail of a Tunisian man, Abderraouf Jdey, who received his Canadian citizenship in 1995, and is believed to have left Canada in November 2001. The U.S. government posted a $5-million reward for his capture after a martyrdom letter and video messages from him were found in the Kabul home of Osama bin Laden’s military lieutenant.
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Schools in Québec are now required to note the passage of holidays like Eid al-Adha, Hanukkah, Diwali and the birth of Sikh guru Nanak. These dates are part of a controversial new course on ethics and religious culture making its debut in classrooms this fall. One school, Loyola High School in Montreal, is going to court in protest. More than 600 parents at the private Catholic school have requested exemptions to allow their children to opt out of the course. The school’s principal, Paul Donovan has stated that “if you’re going to allow Catholic schools to exist, then you have to allow them to be Catholic.”
Jean-Pierre Proulx, a University of Montreal education professor who advised the provincial government on the new course, stated, “We’re not aiming to form good Catholics or good Protestant or good Jews. We want to form good cultivated citizens, who are tolerant and able to enter into dialogue with others.”
The Dalai Lama will travel to the province next year to show his enthusiasm for the ethics and religious culture class.
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Schools in Qu_bec are now required to note the passage of holidays like Eid al-Adha, Hanukkah, Diwali and the birth of Sikh guru Nanak. These dates are part of a controversial new course on ethics and religious culture making its debut in classrooms this fall. One school, Loyola High School in Montreal, is going to court in protest. More than 600 parents at the private Catholic school have requested exemptions to allow their children to opt out of the course. The school’s principal, Paul Donovan has stated that if you’re going to allow Catholic schools to exist, then you have to allow them to be Catholic. Jean-Pierre Proulx, a University of Montreal education professor who advised the provincial government on the new course, stated, We’re not aiming to form good Catholics or good Protestant or good Jews. We want to form good cultivated citizens, who are tolerant and able to enter into dialogue with others. The Dalai Lama will travel to the province next year to show his enthusiasm for the ethics and religious culture class.
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.
Most of the women in this article claim they have experienced few problems at work as a result of wearing the hijab in the workplace, except for the odd person assuming Muslim women are cloistered, uneducated and oppressed. In May of 2008 the Bouchard-Taylor Report similarly found that Muslim women in Quebec face discrimination in the job market for wearing the hijab and cited the case of a young woman who “saw her job applications rejected by 50 pharmacies before she was finally able to land a job with an Arab pharmacist.”
In a 2002 study, “No Hijab Is Permitted Here,” conducted by Women Working with Immigrant Women and funded by the Canadian Heritage-Multiculturalism Program and Status of Women Canada found that more than 90% of participants had an employer make reference to the hijab when applying for a job; more than 40% claim they were told they must remove the hijab if they wanted a job (sample size not given). Fadwa Benmbarek who works with the Council on American-Islamic Relations says getting a new job is often the toughest part.
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Link to “No Hijab Permitted Is Here” study availablehere
A the Ecole de langues de l’Estrie school in Gatineau, Quebec has apologized to a Muslim teacher who left his job last week after being told he could not pray inside the building. Mohamed Ismael returned to work, although the school has not dedicated prayer space to him. The owner of the private school, Louise Charest, said, We have a great relationship with Mohamed and he can pray anywhere he wants, but not in the classrooms . . . I cannot provide a room for him because if I did that, I would have to provide rooms for every other faith. A spokesperson for the Qu_bec Human and Youth Rights Commission said employers must accommodate devout people of any faith who need a private space for prayer.
By Ian Austen MONTREAL – Viewed separately, the incidents seemed relatively insignificant. Members of a Hasidic synagogue here wanted a neighboring Y.M.C.A. to block or tint the windows of an exercise room used by women. A Muslim girl was barred from playing soccer for wearing a hijab on the field. And, in Quebec, some Muslims and Orthodox Jews refused to deal with police officers and physicians of the opposite sex. Then came the decision in late January by H_rouxville, Quebec – a town of French-speaking Catholics – to create a code of conduct for immigrants that prohibited, among other things, the covering of women’s faces except for on Halloween and the use of public stoning as a form of punishment. This despite the fact that there are no Muslims in the town and no modern history of stonings.
Muslim women will have to remove their face coverings if they want to vote in upcoming elections in Quebec, a government official said Friday, reversing his earlier decision to allow the veils. Marcel Blanchet, the French-speaking province’s election chief, had been criticized by Quebec’s three main political leaders for allowing voters to wear the niqab, which covers the entire face except for the eyes, if they signed a sworn statement and showed identification when they vote. But Blanchet reversed his earlier decision Friday, saying it was necessary to avoid disruptions when residents go to the polls. “Relevant articles to electoral laws were modified to add the following: any person showing up at a polling station must be uncovered to exercise the right to vote,” he said. Blanchet had to get two bodyguards after the Quebec elections office received threatening phone calls and e-mails following his initial decision to allow niqabs. He said some residents had threatened to protest Monday’s vote by showing up at polling stations wearing masks. The reversal was condemned by Muslims groups who said it could turn their members away from the polls. “I am so saddened, I doubt many of these women will show up at the polls on Monday after all this mockery,” said Sarah Elgazzar of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. Many European countries are also grappling with the issue of Muslim veils. In Britain, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw caused a stir last year when he said he wanted Muslim women to abandon the full-face veil, while a Muslim teaching assistant in northern England was suspended from her job for refusing to remove one. France passed a law in 2004 banning Islamic head scarves in schools, and the Netherlands has announced plans for one banning full-length veils in public places. Germany also has a law banning teachers in public schools from wearing head scarves. Last week in Quebec, a young Muslim woman was forced to quit her job at a prison after she refused to remove her headscarf. The public security department supported the decision, citing security concerns, but Muslim groups pointed out that the Canadian Armed Forces allow women to wear headscarves on active duty. Last month, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Ontario participating in a soccer tournament in Quebec was pulled from the field after she refused the referee’s request to remove her headscarf.