Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today I am a Muslim


"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,

and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for me

and by that time no one was left to speak up."
-Pastor Martin Niemöller

Decades ago, when the thoroughly loathsome Dr. Camille Laurin proposed a law making French the 'official' language of Quebec, via the infamous Bill 101, the then separatist Premier René Levesque was uncomfortable with the basic notion of limiting the rights of certain Quebeckers.
Among sovereignists and nationalists, he was just about the only one that held that view, with the general consensus among French language militants was that the end justified the means.

Back then, civil libertarians were rightly shocked and many postulated that it was the thin edge of the wedge. After all, if the government could force you to speak a certain language, could it not force you to follow a certain religion?
This argument annoyed French militants to no end and was panned as utterly alarmist and unrealistic.

Well....never is a long time. In fact,.... never is now.

Bill 94 is a proposed Quebec law banning the wearing of a burqa or niqib while receiving or dispensing any public service in Quebec.

Many who oppose the veil, do so based on the so-called 'security issue' and claim that their position in no way reflects anti-Muslim sentiment. Others who oppose the veil, are not so circumspect and publicly oppose the veil based on its perceived anti-feminist symbolism.

On both accounts fair-minded citizens should vehemently oppose the law.

First off, let me say that like most Quebeckers, I have a particular dislike for the veil. In fact I find the whole outfit, top to bottom, veil included, a bit creepy, to say the least.

That being said, I also dislike curry and find heavy metal music particularly loathsome. But I don't think I'd ever consider calling for a ban of AC/DC concerts or the closure of Indian restaurants. The old adage of "To each, his own" still rings true with me and I hope it does with you, as well.

Those who argue that the veil is a security issue, do so in order justify their prejudice through a logical and politically acceptable argument, but it is really just an excuse. There are less than two dozen women wearing the veil in Quebec and none has demonstrated any particular danger to society. None have robbed any banks and none have kidnapped and eaten little children. Security is really a smokescreen for racism.

Two weeks ago,  I witnessed a riot in downtown Montreal where individuals hoodlums wore scarves to hide their identities whilst rioting and looting stores on Ste. Catherine Street. Each year anarchists hold a parade where they create mayhem and destruction while hiding their identity by way of masks and scarves. Many have called for a ban on such face coverings, but as of today, there is no law being proposed or debated to ban face-covering during the riots. There is however Bill 94, a law banning the benign wearing of veils by Muslims.
 .
So which is more dangerous, a punk, covering his face while smashing windows and looting, or a Muslim women wearing a veil, walking peacefully down the street pushing a baby stroller?
Security issue? My eye!

As for the other major argument people use to call for a ban on the veil, the fact that they are offended by the anti-female message that the veil represents, all I can say is, too bad for you.
How on earth, is somebody's political or moral opinion in any way relevant to what someone else believes in or the clothes that they wear?

Are we really ready to tell people what they may or may not wear based on whether it goes against generally held opinions?

Personally I am offended by many things;
I dislike teen aged boys that wear their jeans so low that their underwear is displayed.
I dislike people who wear Che Guevara T-shirts or other anarchist crap.
I'm offended by women who wear lo-rise pants and flaunt their thongs.
I am offended by obese men who attend public swimming pools wearing Speedos.
I'm offended by nose rings and florescent hair.
I scoff at people who believe in UFOs
I think people who believe that there was no moon landing are idiots.

I'm sure that there are plenty of things that you don't like or things that you don't believe in. Should we ban them all?

When I was a teen, most adults hated long hair on boys, tie-dyed T-shirts, the Beatles and bell-bottom jeans.

SO WHAT!!!!!!!!!!

To bad for you if someone else's personal display of their faith, their political beliefs or their fashion taste offends you.

Has the numbing affect of Bill 101, so eroded our concept of personal freedom that we are really ready to ban someone's clothing because it offends the political or moral belief of the majority?

Have we sunk so low?

It's hard to like the veil, but it shouldn't be hard to accept, not if you believe in freedom.

Nobody should be forced to wear a veil and nobody should be forced not to wear one.

People are free to believe in abortion and people are free to be against it.
People are free to believe in sovereignty or in Canada.
People are free to wear boxers or briefs.
People are free to tattoo a Nazi swastika on their butt.
People are free to believe that the veil is a symbol of oppression and people are free to believe it is a sign of piety.

Freedom is tenuous and fragile and it is always under attack by forces who want to enforce a particular agenda.

In Quebec there is a political force led by ultra nationalists and separatists who wish to impose French language supremacy coupled with a leftist, anti-religious agenda. That's okay, it's their right.

What's not okay is imposing it on us all.

It's incumbent on us all to defend our own freedom, but more importantly to defend the freedom of those with whom we don't agree, otherwise we fail as citizens.

It's easy to be against the veil, it's a lot harder to defend it on principle. If we don't, it's just the beginning of more interdictions.

Already there are calls to ban other religious regalia in the public service, however minor.

I'm not a religious person and don't care much about crucifixes, hijabs, niqabs and Jewish Stars, but as Pastor  Niemöller reminds us all, I really ought to give a damn.

19 comments:

  1. That's the central problem with life in Quebec. Racism, xenophobia and hatred not only go unchallenged, it's CREATED and ENDORSED by the Quebec government. It's been gradually building from 1976 to 2010....you've had whole generations of children feed lies and propaganda about the English and ethnics.

    It's dangerous and always ends in the same way, just look at history as the proof of that (even Bosnia, the country that hosted the Olympics, who could've dreamed about the violence that occurred there!). Quebec is like a volcano long overdue to erupt.

    The biggest madness is this is Canada where it's happening, which boosts itself as the most free, democratic, opened and peaceful country on the planet. What's worse is you bring this up with most people and they say you're crazy...I'm sure people sounding the alarm in Poland and Bosnia were told they were crazy too, until it was too late.

    Sure, I sound almost crazy talking about violence and ethnic cleaning where we're talking about banning what amounts to hats....but that's how it starts. Ban signs, ban education, ban toys, books and foods, ban clothing and religious articles (anything that threatens the so-called better race) and when that doesn't work, guess what comes next.

    Je me Souvien indeed.

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  2. Excellent Post. Thank you for giving a damn and speaking so eloquently the frustrations and discrimination's we face as Quebec citizens. Quebec should give a damn because their ludicrous language & burqua laws discriminate and we now have the net, a global medium to enlighten everyone globally of the scandals of injustice against children in Quebec and women of dedicated faith.

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  3. Editor: "Has the numbing affect of Bill 101, so eroded our concept of personal freedom that we are really ready to ban someone's clothing"

    I think you may be onto something here...

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  4. I love Niemöller's sentiment. Could not agree more with this posting.

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  5. Excellent post. I don't want to be melodramatic here, but I feel truly inspired by your words. I've always enjoyed your blog; please keep up the good work!

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  6. Mitch: “you've had whole generations of children feed lies and propaganda about the English and ethnics.”

    It is a BIG problem. I used to think that a lot of older Quebecois are somewhat understatedly Anglophobic because they lived in the times of inequality, the times when Francophones were treated like second class citizens.

    But for the life of me I could not understand where do all these “jeunes patriotes” come from? They got to grow up in the modern Quebec which is part of one of the best countries in the world, the post Quiet Revolution Quebec where Francophones are empowered with Bill 101, the Quebec that Ottawa doesn’t even oversee anymore, the Quebec in which the English minority quietly retreated to West Island and causes no problems for the Francophones.

    And the answer is: they get it from school, from their parents, from tv (Tout Le Monde En Parle anyone?), from the radio.

    It’s in the air, and it gets absorbed like a virus.

    Mitch: “I'm sure people sounding the alarm in Poland and Bosnia were told they were crazy too, until it was too late.”

    Bosnia was involved in the Balkan War in the 1990s, but Poland saw no war since 1945 (World War 2). You must have confused Poland with some other country.

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  7. I don't agree wth your inflammatory charge of 'racism'. We too easily confuse preference with prejudice. In any case a more realistic immigration policy would have resolved this problem in the beginning.

    The Toronto guy.

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  8. Part 1 of 2:

    Sorry, all, but while I do share 99% of what Pastor Niemöller says, I do have my limits with what a small number of Muslims are doing, and I'm neither going to let it pass nor shut up.

    While easily 95% of Muslims, probably even more, came to North America to honestly prosper in our lands of opportunity and seek political peace, there is a small but significant minority that is causing most of our troubles.

    The Canada-U.S. border was the friendliest in the world. The friendliest part of it is in the Eastern Township community of Beebe Plain/Rock Island, Quebec and Derby Line, Vermont. Canusa Drive, its name obviously created to reflect this friendliness, has Canadian homes on the north side of the street and American homes on the south. The double line painted down the middle street represents the border. A library that used to be an opera house lies partially in both nations, and other buildings straddle the border as well.

    On a couple of occasions, I parked my car on what proved to be the last parking spot in Canada, and showed a couple of people the border and opera house. It is a rare phenomenon, and an outstanding reminder of what our two countries mean to each other.

    I remember when I was young and living in Montreal with my parents, we used to take a wonderful day trip to Plattsburg to go to their nice beaches, and often have a BBQ on the beach, then go shop later. A short one-hour car day trip to some very cheap and fun family time together. Too bad it now costs almost $400 for a family of four to obtain passports just to have that same simple fun. Who spoiled that fun? Moslem terrorists!

    You go to the airport. I remember just 10 years ago when you could fly return Toronto-Montreal for about $150 if you booked in advance. It wasn't hard to do. Air Canada used to have a program called Rapidair. Easy check-in, fast boarding, easy departure upon landing. Now you have to pay all kinds of airport fees, including special security fees; furthermore, now they're using technology to see our naked bodies, plus endless checks and delays. You can't go into an airport wondering about your safety, or a subway station or even a train or bus depot.

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  9. Part 3 of 3:

    OK, we have established that it's not the general Muslim population that is responsible for over $200 million damage in New York alone, or for over 3,000 deaths, including Canadians and other nationals. Commercial flights were disrupted for several days, and it did affect the collective psyche of our society. One thing bothers me though: If it's only a small minority of Muslims causing this damage, why is it I have never heard one Muslim, publicly or privately, condemn what damages their peers caused? Were they secretly cheering their peers? Did they fear retribution if they publicly rebuking what those rabid terrorist animals did?

    The Ayatollah Khomeni, the first one who usurped the Shah of Iran's power and had him deposed, declared a fatwa on Solomon Rushdie because of a book he wrote. Some of those cukoo imams declare fatwas on the Jewish population at large, the Christian population at large amongst other groups and individuals, yet I don't hear any other supposedly peaceful Muslims coming out and condemning those rabid animals. Their collective silence is extremely disconcerting!

    Muslims make up 1.3 billion people, almost as many of them as Christians and Jews, and they are still having bigger families than most other religious groups. If even 1% of the current Muslim population can be deemed fanatics, that's over 1/3 of Canada's whole population. It took just a few dozen Muslims to create the havoc they did back on 9/11, it took a dozen FLQ terrorists to wreak havoc on all Quebecers back in 1970 and it took no more than a dozen Palestinian terrorists to desecrate the 1972 Olympic games in Munich by killing 11 Israeli athletes. Since then the costs of security have escalated phenomenally as subsequent Olympic games, starting in Montreal.

    Words can't describe the feeling of vindication I felt when then-Israeli PM, Golda Meir, engaged the most secret of Israeli defense services, the Mossad, to hunt down the three surviving Munich terrorists (freed after taking other innocent people hostage until the got safely home to a hero's welcome) for the rabid animals they were. The Mossad got the job done!

    On the main subject, the niqab, based on the above, has no religious obligation to be worn. It was adopted by certain societies within the Muslim community. I have no problems with birqas, as long as the face isn't covered. I, and a good 80% of Canadians polled outside Quebec, feel this way. I associate masks with thugs and terrorists who don't have the courage to show their faces, like the terrorist thugs who killed Daniel Perlman by decapotating him on an internet video that no station on public TV would dare show beyond the point of drawing of their machete. Same goes for bank robbers and other criminals who hide themselves like the cowards they are.

    Does this mean burping in public should become acceptable manners? In some societies, it's a compliment to the cook to burp after a meal. In North America and Western Europe, it is the height of bad manners.

    In the Far East, it's considered bad manners to look at people directly in the eye when you are addressing them or vice versa. When we visit those countries, should we just tell them to put up and shut up, or try to be accommodating to their customs and enable them to feel comfortable. When in Rome...

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  10. Make that Part 2 of 3:

    These all add up to extra costs for everything, especially flying. Who created the post-9/11 world? Muslim terrorists!

    In Brampton, a Toronto suburb, 18 men and boys were arrested a couple of years ago in a planned operation. There were plans by this Group of 18, or at least some of them, to wreak havoc on the general population by blowing up buildings and beheading our Prime Minister.

    A recent attempt to wreak havoc in Times Square was foiled, and other attempts have been foiled. Others were not, in Indonesia, London and other places as well.

    Speaking of 9/11, just one evening earlier, I remember quite vividly a news report read to us by Sandie Rinaldo on the CTV National News. It was about tensions between Arabic and Jewish students at my alma mater, Concordia U. Next morning, I'm hearing at the office about the Twin Towers being blown up. The Pentagon was attacked, and the nephew of one of my co-workers was killed there. She went all the way from Toronto to Washington for his state funeral.

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  11. Anonymous: “While easily 95% of Muslims, probably even more, came to North America to honestly prosper in our lands of opportunity and seek political peace, there is a small but significant minority that is causing most of our troubles.”

    Anonymous: “It took just a few dozen Muslims to create the havoc they did back on 9/11, it took a dozen FLQ terrorists to wreak havoc on all Quebecers back in 1970 and it took no more than a dozen Palestinian terrorists to desecrate the 1972 Olympic games in Munich by killing 11 Israeli athletes.”

    You are then admitting that your fear of Muslims is on account of a crazed and extremist Islamist minority, and that terrorism is not a phenomenon limited to Muslims (you mention the FLQ, I could add the Red Brigades, IRA, The Tamil tigers=hindu terrorists who resort to suicide bombings)

    A few points:

    1.Although terrorist means are ALWAYS contemptible, the ends aren’t always. The IRA for example, was (is) a bunch of murderous psychopaths, but their goal of removing the Brits from Ireland was not so crazy. Same with the Muslims. Getting the Israelis out of Palestine and Americans out of Iraq are very sensible goals. The trick is to find a political solution to this, which is hard given the American exploits in the middle east and American unconditional support for Israel in the UN’s security council.
    2.Terrorists perpetrate acts of violence, but we also do. Americans killed over 100,000 civilians in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, a lot of them children. It is something that’s far away from us and carefully hidden by the complacent mass media so we don’t see it or know about it, but it is happening.
    3.You may think you are afraid of Muslims, but you may simply be prejudiced (you yourself admit that 95% of them are not dangerous)
    4.The crux of the matter – even if they were all bad, banning their attire is not going to solve anything- it only makes us look desperate and ridiculous. It's just a way for us to get back at them, nothing more.
    5.A more general observation - we accept these people, and then we complain that they are not like us – I just went for coffee with an Indian coworker of mine – he told me how his Indian girlfriend who works at the Taj Mahal restaurant downtown was recently verbally abused by a French speaking customer because she replied to his question in English (she understands French but is too shy to speak it, but that’s besides the point, the point is that the bill 101-empowered customer was an a-hole) – my Indian friend said to me what at repeated ad nauseam on this forum: “why do they accept us and then complain we’re not like them?”

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  12. 'Condemnations from Muslim sources against terrorists:'

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/islfatwa.htm

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  13. adski: I'll keep my response your remarks brief and to the point (and as you can see, I can be very wordy and chatty in my writing).

    The ends are justified? To cut and paste YOUR words: "Getting the Israelis out of Palestine" (all I keyed in are the quotation marks) proves to me you are an anti-Semite, a Jew hater. Case closed.

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  14. "YOUR words: "Getting the Israelis out of Palestine""

    Guilty as charged. My words exactly.

    "you are an anti-Semite, a Jew hater"

    A rather common misconception: criticizing the policies of the state of Israel = being an Anti-Semite.

    I won't get into this because there is no point.

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  15. adski: Why do you want the Jews do badly out of Israel? Where do you see this "great injustice"? What harm have the Jews done to the Middle East? Israel NEVER fired the first shots in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and beyond, but they sure fired the last! The first shots were fired by one of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon or Syria.

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  16. Since adski hasn't the answer, let me remind those who have problems with Israel that settlement of the land was not done by Jews, but by the British Government; furthermore, any additional lands bought were through United Jewish Appeal and other Jewish charites, and top dollar was paid for sand.

    The settlers, mostly post-WWII refugees, built that nation from sand dunes to the progressive society it is today. They built their infrastructure from scratch, often with their bare hands and shovels to start. There were no homes, businesses, nothing. How is it that a nation with so little in the way of natural resources is thriving the way it is?

    It is because they WORK TOGETHER, and they work hard at it. On a per-capita basis, there are more university degreeholders in Israel than any other place on Earth. Children in Israel go to school six days a week, and they don't have long summer vacations like in North America. Many Canadians don't even know Canada has a Free Trade Agreement with Israel, and Canada within the last year signed one with Jordan. Somehow Israel, Jordan and Egypt have found the way to live together peacefully. I'm not saying it's better than a cold peace, they're not loving friends, but they have learned to co-exist.

    The so-called Palestinians didn't even exist until 1967. This was an invention of Egyptian-born Yasser Arafat, the founder of the PLO, who died a very rich man a few short years ago. He cried to the West how his people were poor, persecuted and had nothing.

    They had nothing because Arafat and his cronies were too busy lining their pockets with alms from the West. Next to nothing trickled down to the commonfolk. Arafat ate the best food, lived in the best housing and drove the best cars, as did those nearest and dearest to him. He died in Paris in the hands of the best medical care money could buy.

    While Yitzchak Rabin remains the only Israel politician killed by another Israeli, there has been endless killing of Palestineans by none other than each other. Hamas vs Abbas in more recent times, and look back over the last 62 years. How many of his own people has Mommar Khadafi killed in Libya, Assaad in Syria, Khomeni in Iran, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and a devastating civil war that absolutely destroyed Beirut and Lebanon as a whole? These were all putrid despots exterminating their own people!

    Other countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen and others applaud and offer the so-called Palestineans their moral support, and wish all Israelis dead, but who of their so-called allies have come to their aid to help rescue them from a life of abject poverty? Nooooooooobody!

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  17. "others applaud and offer the so-called Palestineans their moral support"

    Oh my God, did you just say so - called Palestinians as if their identity might be in question?! Really, they're the indigenous population of the region and not an immigrant population brought down from the four corners of the earth claiming ownership and identity based on a religious text used as a deed to land.
    The so - called Israelis have appropriated the lands and homes of millions of people to make 'lebensraum' for themselves. Wasn't it Herzl who said "we shall spirit away the local population" more than forty years before the Germans hoped to do the same thing in their Eastern conquests to make more room for their divine destiny? Different people, same kind of crazy.

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  18. May 30th: It was Britain that bisected the land, nobody else, in 1948. Funny that between 1948 and 1966 the term "Palestinean" did not exist, but suddenly manifested during the Six-Day War of 1967. Why the 19-year vacuum?

    Israel, little Israel, beat the crap out of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan in just six measly days in 1967, twice before that and again in 1973 and in other battles following that date. The Israelis have fought long and hard for their little scrap of land that was nothing but sand dunes when it became a nation in 1948.

    As mentioned above, they have more university graduates and professionals per capita than any other country on Earth, and they mostly work together while the so-called Palestineans are busy factionalizing and killing each other. Every despot dictators surrounding Israel have been engaged in civil war, or killing tens of thousands of those they consider political subversives. As the late and great PM Golda Meir stated, "There will be no peace as long as [the Arabic states] hate [Israel] more than they love their own children."

    Assaad of Syria, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Khadafi of Libya and the former Shah of Iran, followed by Ayatollah Khomeni and the current cuckoo bird in Iran has slaughtered their own, and Lebanon destroyed itself in a civil way a couple of decades ago. In the meantime, Israel prospers, and the Arab population living in Israel wouldn't trade where they are to move into their neighbours' lands, even if it's imperfect!

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  19. Since we're on the subject of history,

    "The name "Palestine" is the cognate of an ancient word meaning "Philistines" or "Land of the Philistines".[7][8][9] The earliest known mention is thought to be in Ancient Egyptian texts of the temple at Medinet Habu which record a people called the P-r-s-t (conventionally Peleset) among the Sea Peoples who invaded Egypt in Ramesses III's reign.[10] The Hebrew name Peleshet (פלשת Pəléshseth)- usually translated as Philistia in English, is used in the Bible to denote the southern coastal region that was inhabited by the Philistines to the west of the ancient Kingdom of Judah.[11]"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine

    It seems that the Israelis could never play nice with their neighbours. Of course, when you're the exclusively chosen people of God, then you can do exactly as you please, right?

    As for the sad state of affairs in the areas around Israel, I think it's fair to say and well documented, that Israel has everything to do with it all. Next time you chose to commemorate the Warsaw ghetto, just think that Israel now has one of its own. It has invested its future in the very ugliness that helped spawn it.
    As for the bravery of the IDF, I think you can thank the subversive activities of the Jewish lobbies in the US that ensured the procurement of advanced technologies, including nuclear armaments that Israel has used as a threat against all its neighbours.
    Israel is a rogue state and a destabilizing agent in the middle east and the mediterranean as a whole. If Serbia had committed a mere fraction of Israeli attrocities, it would probably have been nuked right into the endnotes of a history book.

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