Friday, March 02, 2007

What's To Separate?

The Québec election of 2007 (slated for March 26) has begun in earnest. André Boisclair has his hands full already, leading the Parti Québécois whose platform since its inception after/during the Quiet Revolution, is a sovereign Québec. Now's he's got to deal with this couldn't-have-been-unexpected item... :

When reporters asked him whether homophobia was weighing on his election campaign, Boisclair took a long pause before saying he would let Quebecers answer that question, because he knows they believe in equality and freedom...

Thursday afternoon, Boisclair took aim at ADQ Leader Mario Dumont on his views about religion in schools. Addressing students at the Université Laval, the PQ leader said Dumont would allow any religion in public schools — "from Jesus Christ right to Rael," the leader of a sect that believes life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials — if he's elected and enacts his plan to fund religious instruction. The proposal would divide Quebecers and undermine its secular identity, Boisclair said. "Public school must be secular, it must be neutral," he told an enthusiastic crowd of students.


In other Québec-related news, "Muslim Liberals decr[ied Québec premier Jean] Charest's stand on soccer hijab":

Some Muslim Liberals in Quebec are upset with party leader Jean Charest's support for an amateur soccer official who kicked a young Muslim girl out of a Laval tournament for wearing a hijab... The referee, who is Muslim, said the association's position complies with FIFA rules, an explanation Charest endorsed Monday, when he said he agreed there are certain behaviours to be expected from soccer players on the field, including proper attire.

"The community isn't feeling very comfortable with that kind of comment," said Maher Bissany, a Liberal supporter. "We would much rather hear from Mr. Charest things along the lines of integration, and having our kids feel part of all the activities, whether it's soccer or at school or any other type of activities," Bissany told CBC.

Bissany said he hopes Muslim leaders in Quebec will have a chance to share their thoughts with Charest about religious accommodation. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) said the incident should prompt soccer officials in Quebec to change field attire rules.

I've got a more equitable solution:
maybe Québec's decision should prompt Islam to change its rules regarding attire, especially when it comes to women, hijabs, and sharing public space with people who don't subscribe to Islam's belief that a woman's hair must be hidden from public view. Québec is more than happy to let people practice their religion (the province's Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms is older than Canada's), but one condition must be adhered to: keep it to yourself. Is it asking too much for citizens in a multi-cultural, multi-religious community to see their way to respecting other people's [non-] beliefs in public, secular spaces?


Not surprisingly, Ontario's soccer association disagrees with Quebec's soccer association — and Quebec's premier — about banning head scarves from the game.

Charest's comments also came a little more than two weeks after he called for a one-year provincial commission to examine what constitutes reasonable accommodation of minorities, following the adoption of controversial codes of conduct targeted at immigrants by several Quebec communities.



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