Quebec Should Protect Religious Minorities
By Ashu Solo *
What kind of society do we live in where the Parti Quebecois (P.Q.) would table a Quebec charter of values to ban devout public servants from practicing their religious values by wearing turbans, hijabs, and yarmulkes while allowing people to be naked in various media and clubs?
Marois suggested that multiculturalism causes terrorism. On the contrary, her discriminatory charter could cause terrorist attacks in Canada. Mohammed Merah, who killed seven people in France, said that he was partially motivated by France’s burqa ban. Al Qaeda has repeatedly threatened France with terrorist attacks over their burqa ban. After the ban, some people in France have engaged in violence against women wearing burqas, and police have been attacked for trying to enforce the ban. The P.Q. is inciting terrorism and violence in Quebec.
The organization representing women’s centres in Quebec, R des centres des femmes du Québec, reported that the debate over the values charter is provoking violence and insults against women. They say that Muslim women have been recently shoved, insulted, denigrated, and spit on. Obviously the values charter isn’t going to create greater equality between men and women.
The Muslim Council of Montreal received 117 complaints of physical or verbal abuse between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 compared to 25 complaints in the first seven months of 2013. MarkEthnic, a Montreal market research firm, found that 25.6% of Quebec Muslims had been the victim of a hateful act. Montreal police have created a special unit for investigating violence related to the charter of values.
Cutting hair to a Sikh is like cutting an arm or a leg. Going without a turban to a Sikh is like going without pants. What right does anyone have to try to force a Sikh to cut his hair? Who does it harm if he wears a turban? How is he not neutral by following his own religious requirement? What harm could possibly be caused by a physician or police officer wearing a turban?
The P.Q. even wants to ban people getting government services from wearing face coverings. A Muslim woman who wears a face covering won't be able to get medical care for life threatening injuries or diseases. She will have to choose between following her interpretation of her religion and saving her life.
Religious liberty requires that the state and agents of the state not give preferential treatment to any religion, not discriminate on the basis of religion, not interfere with the free practice of any religion, fully accommodate the practice of religion, not make public policy on the basis of religion, and ensure that public and private organizations not discriminate on the basis of religion and fully accommodate the practice of religion.
Many people came to Canada for its religious liberty. Religious minorities have to earn a living for themselves and their families. If they can't freely follow their religions in Quebec, many of them will be forced to quit their jobs and uproot their families to move to other provinces. The P.Q. is trying to drive religious minorities out of the province, so that there is greater support for Quebec independence.
Wake up, Canada. The Quebec charter of values is thinly veiled religious bigotry. Let us protect the rights of the minority from the discriminatory will of the majority.
* Ashu M. G. Solo is a well-known secularism activist. He is an interdisciplinary researcher, electrical engineer, computer engineer, intelligent systems engineer, political and public policy engineer, mathematician, political writer, political operative, entrepreneur, former infantry platoon commander understudy, and progressive activist. Solo has over 500 research and political commentary publications.