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One of the more positive effects of what’s been happening lately has been the coming together of the Muslim and Jewish Communities towards a common cause:

A photo of two kids — a Muslim girl and Jewish boy — rallying for the same cause alongside their dads, warmed the hearts of audiences across social media.

Both children are pictured hoisted high above the crowd on their father’s shoulders, holding handmade signs. Seven-year-old Meryem looks across at Adin, 9, who is smiling back at her. Her father, Fatih Yildirim, is holding a sign saying “empathy.” Adin’s father, Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, has a sign with a message about the past — “we’ve seen this before never again.”

For what it’s worth, I spotted a significant number of Jewish people at last night’s Montreal vigil to support the Muslim community in the wake of the Quebec City attack, too.

Just a few years ago, this sort of unity between our two communities would have been almost unheard-of. I think the turning point — as far as I can remember — came when we marched side by side to protest against the Charte des valeurs. Thus proving that when the issues are important enough, we can unite and find common ground.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t still big issues to tackle. But I think we’re all looking for nuggets of hope this week. This is one.


So Louise Beaudoin says out loud what most of the PQ has been saying – openly or not-so-openly – for years: We only care about one culture, and that’s pure laine quebecois, and everyone else can shape up or get out.

Okay, not in so many words, but that was the gist of the Pequiste leader’s remarks to the press after a group of Sikhs were denied entrance to the National Assembly. They were there to speak out against Bill 94, a racist piece of claptrap that would deny services to Muslim women wearing face coverings, for instance, and is supported by an overwhelming 95% of Quebecers. This law as written won’t impact the Sikh community specifically, but the people who came out to speak up were there to represent the 5% of people who disapprove of the Quebec government’s attempt to further infringe on religious freedom for xenophobic reasons.

Now, there is a very legitimate question about the kirpan, and whether any kind of weapon – ceremonial or otherwise – should be permitted past security screening at the National Assembly. Beaudoin could have taken the high road, saying “we would like to hear from all Quebecers, and we invite the views of the Sikh community on this issue, and we regret that security concerns did not allow us to admit them” or something to that effect. It wouldn’t have solved the tricky kirpan debate, but it would have signalled an openness to at least discuss it.

But Beaudoin chose the low road. Specifically, she said that:

“Religious freedom exists, but there are other values,” she added. “Multiculturalism may be a Canadian value. But it is not a Quebec one.

“And we haven’t signed the constitution of Canada because it contains this notion of multiculturalism.

“I think we can be different.”

If by “different”, she means “more xenophobic”, then she’s hit the nail on the head. At least there’s no hypocricy in Beaudoin’s position. It’s getting harder to call racism one of Quebec’s “dirty little secrets” when it’s being promoted so openly. Quebec has never wanted to be pluralistic, accepting or tolerant. If the disastrous reasonable accommodation debates showed us anything, it’s that most people in Quebec would prefer us to turn into France and do away with religious freedom altogether.

Meanwhile, the Liberals missed an opportunity to take a strong position against Beaudoin and company. Charest’s team waffled on the issue, staying quiet and basically stumbling through an attempt to walk the fine line between not pissing anyone off and not pissing anyone off. All of that to cover the dirty little secret that, if it weren’t for the fact that the Liberals rely on the “ethnic vote” to get elected, most of them would be as opposed to multicultural values as their Pequiste compatriots. That’s some strong leadership we’ve got in Quebec City, folks.

My logical follow-up question to Louise Beaudoin is therefore this: If multiculturalism isn’t a Quebec value, how can we change that and turn it into one?


Things I’ve been thinking about


A few things that have been on my mind lately: 1. Idiots are their own worst PR nightmare. Let ’em talk long enough, they’ll shoot themselves in the foot. No need to do it for them. 2. Laziness is an addition, just like alcoholism. And it has enablers. Don’t be one. Next time someone asks […]

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Obama is not Muslim


But according to a new poll, one in five Americans think that he is: Americans increasingly are convinced — incorrectly — that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a growing number are thoroughly confused about his religion. Nearly one in five people, or 18 per cent, said they think Obama is Muslim, up from […]

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Quebec’s unions display their warm, fuzzy side


What do you get when you mix two of my pet peeves: Quebec unions, and the “healthy” reasonable accommodation hearings? Plenty of religious intolerance to go around: No public servant – including Muslim teachers and judges – should be allowed to wear anything at work that shows what religion they belong to, leaders of Quebec’s […]

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Courageous voices


These women stood up to speak out against radical fundamenatalism in the middle east and in the world: “We must speak out now, because we’ve got nothing to lose,” said Dr. Wafa Sultan, one of four Middle Eastern women taking part in a panel discussion in Montreal yesterday to argue their position on the West’s […]

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Kidnapped journalists released


Of course it’s good news that Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig were released unharmed. But Lynn B. is essential reading on the larger context here: My elation at Steve and Olaf’s release was quickly replaced by outrage when I heard about their forced conversion. The video turned my stomach. It should turn the stomach of […]

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Where were Newsweek’s fact-checkers on this story? Newsweek magazine said on Sunday it erred in a May 9 report that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, and apologized to the victims of deadly Muslim protests sparked by the article. Editor Mark Whitaker said the magazine inaccurately reported that U.S. military investigators had confirmed […]

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Pipes: Islam isn’t evil


I wonder how many of Daniel Pipes’ critics have read his article entitled Islam isn’t evil: (via Damian Penny) It is a mistake to blame Islam (a religion 14 centuries old) for the evil that should be ascribed to militant Islam (a totalitarian ideology less than a century old). The terrorism of al Qaeda, Hamas, […]

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Journalists charged in Jordan


I just love it how international journalists complain about Israeli restrictions on its generally free press, but say nothing about things like this: Three journalists were formally charged Tuesday with slandering Islam’s Prophet Muhammad and harming Jordan’s reputation in an article that discussed the sex life of the prophet and his wife, Aisha. Muhannad Mubaideen, […]

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