Thursday, January 20, 2011

Quebec Intolerant of Accomodations, but not Religion

Call it a paradox, but it's my contention that Quebeckers reject making religious accommodations to a larger extent than Canadians in other provinces while maintaining a higher level of religious tolerance.

Now before you rush to the comments section to point out that my two previous posts are incompatible with this statement, hear me out.

A couple of days ago, a group of Sikhs was refused entry into Quebec's Parliament because they refused to give up their ceremonial daggers known as Kirpans.
"Hearings into the accommodation of minority groups were disrupted Tuesday when security agents refused to accommodate four Sikh officials who refused to turn in their ceremonial daggers" Toronto Sun.
 "Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to enter because we wear the kirpan, which is a bit ironic because we were here to speak upon the issue of accommodation and we weren't accommodated," said Singh. CBC

By the way, this is the law that would ban the niqib (veil) in some public situations.

The spokesman for the group pointed out to reporters that the kirpan is an 'article of faith' and not a weapon, but take a look at the knife, it looks pretty dangerous to me.
I guess one man's 'article of faith,' is another man's weapon.

video 

If the Sikhs had brought along a bowling ball as their 'article of faith,' I'd expect the Parliamentary guards to let them in. As for a knife, I don't think so.


"Kripan?"
The Supreme Court of Canada and the federal Parliament allow Sikhs to carry the kirpan within their buildings and this will undoubtedly fuel media focus branding Quebec as intolerant.

While most Canadians overwhelmingly agree with Quebec in matters of religious accommodation, the federal government and the other provincial governments disagree and the liberal media is quick to condemn Quebeckers as intolerant based on this difference of opinion.

Quebeckers are much more sensitive to religious extremism, having been the victim of a domineering church up until the last generation. There remains a great deal of resentment at having ones life controlled by others and seeing a woman wearing a veil is as provocative to Quebec women as a matador's cape thrust before a bull's face.

Where one persons freedom ends and the public begins shall always remain a contentious issue.

Those who say that all religious ceremonies and conventions should be tolerated and accommodated are spouting poppycock.
We don't allow human or animal sacrifice, flagellation, exploitation of children or polygamy (even though this last one may change.)

As a society, we set limits. Where those limits are, remains a fair question.

And so debate over religious accommodation is legitimate.
  • Should Muslims be provided prayer rooms in universities?
  • Should Hassidic children be excused from studying the standard provincial curriculum
  • Should women be allowed to demand to be treated by a female physician or be served by a female public employee?
  • Should days off for alternative holidays be provided?
  • Should public and private institutions provide for segregated male/female classes.
  • Should dangerous religious symbols such as kirpans be carried on airplanes or public buildings?
As you probably know this last weekend saw a bunch of Jewish buildings vandalized in Montreal and the cry went up once again that Quebec is intolerant. If and when the perpetrator is found, I'll bet dollars to doughnuts, that he won't be a Francophone.

When it comes to 'hate crimes,' Quebec has the lowest incidence in Canada.

That's right, I bet you didn't know that.

In fact Vancouver, that paragon of tolerance has the highest incidence of hate crimes in Canada (6.3 per 100,000 population)

In 2008 there were 271 hate crimes in Toronto compared to just 38 in Montreal! Link

Of course we are reminded that the boycott of the Le Marcheur shoe store is another act of aggression towards Jews, but when it comes to the campaign of Boycott and Divestment of Israel, Francophone universities have largely steered clear of celebrating "Apartheid week." The intolerance and aggression shown to Jewish students in Anglophone universities like Concordia and other across Canada, towers over anything on the French side.
That's also just the plain truth.

Anyone who calls Quebeckers religiously intolerant by nature, is dead wrong. Statistics don't back up that theory.

Where things go awry is on the language question. There, too many Quebeckers become irrational and intolerant of others.
Again, that's just the plain truth.

As I've always said...... in Quebec it's always about language...but lay off the religious intolerance.

12 comments:

  1. hmmmm, yes and no...

    1st - how many Jews attend French vs English Universities.

    2nd - I would assume that you would get more nation wide media coverage if you were to demonstrate against at an English university rather then a French one. French institutions in general have long ruined their reputations in this country.

    3rd - I tend to agree with what happened in Quebec city...

    Listen I think Ottawa, "The House of Commons" and anyone else in this country is nuts if they allow people to walk around with daggers.

    Read the following sentence out loud to yourself and tell me it doesn't sound insane;

    "In Canada we allow random people to walk around restricted areas with !!!DAGGERS!!!"

    I was in Ottawa last November and visited the the Parliament building. The tour was great, but upon entry we went through "airport style" security including metal detectors, and all the rest of it. So why should anyone be allowed to just waltz in there with knives.

    Are there no crazy Sikhs out there?

    If I was a pocket knife carrying individual (which I'm not) I would be terribly insulted. Basically the message is that Sikhs are more trust worthy then the average individual when it comes to carrying weapons in Canada... Is that the message?

    I'm all for reasonable accommodation but carrying around daggers... In my opinion, this is anything but.

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  2. BTW, for the record, I'm not the biggest Harper fan, but this has to be the best video ever;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=120SbHzHTuQ&feature=related

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  3. Interesting point of view.

    I don't agree. Not when the provincial government is in the process of attacking religion(s) that they don't agree with by passing laws. Laws that are in the same vein as language laws. Suppress, and push aside minorities. No need to point out hate crimes in the rest of the country. Those are individuals being stupid. But here, we have legislative hate. Apples and Oranges.

    Do you find it strange that people are invited to comment on the religious accommodations meetings, but then turn away people who simply want to be heard about the matter? I, as a Orthodox Christian, and as a Montrealer find it extremely suspect about where these hearing will go when people are asked to leave unless they drop their religious symbols.

    Is the Kirpan a knife? Yes. Is it a symbol for the Sikh religion? Yes. Did the people who showed up look like they were going to use that religious symbol as a weapon? I don't think so. This is an excuse in order to push away people who do not belong to the majority view.

    If the Sikh Kirpan can be viewed as a weapon, then the Christian cross can also be considered a weapon because you can stab with it. The Muslim Crescent can be viewed as a cutting object because of it's shape. Even the Star of David can be considered a weapon in the hands of a Ninja master! Ridiculous!

    Quote ....
    [And so debate over religious accommodation is legitimate.
    Should Muslims be provided prayer rooms in universities?
    Should Hassidic children be excused from studying the standard provincial curriculum
    Should women be allowed to demand to be treated by a female physician or be served by a female public employee?
    Should days off for alternative holidays be provided?
    Should public and private institutions provide for segregated male/female classes.
    Should dangerous religious symbols such as kirpans be carried on airplanes or public buildings?} end Quote.

    Are these above points valid in the discussion. Oh Yes!
    But you don't push people away with an opposing position because they show up with their religious symbols that you don't agree with. Have we arrived to the point that one now needs to be silenced due to their appearance. 20% in this province are minority groups thru language, religion or ethnicity. But this 20% doesn't seem to exist in the eyes of the controlling powers. The same people you have been pointing out all this week in your blog. Do we fail to see the forest from the trees.

    This province wants to pass laws to control and put minorities in their place. Just like they has done in the past.

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  4. "...then the Christian cross can also be considered a weapon because you can stab with it."

    C'est quand la dernière fois que vous avez vu un catho se faire intercepter a l'aéroport avec son crucifix?Règle générale,on les laisse a la maison.

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  5. Editor:

    You wrote "Quebeckers are much more sensitive to religious extremism, having been the victim of a domineering church up until the last generation."

    This is absolutely true, but as I wrote at length on yesterday's thread, they are making scapegoats of everybody but the Roman Catholic church. Too, they have stopped being churchgoers in droves leading to the reduction in the number of churches, eating what they want on Fridays, and priests don't intrude their parishoners homes like they used to. They have also learned the meaning of contraception.

    No doubt, this was a people led astray by bad, even evil leadership, but why punish those who had nothing to do with their two-century suppression? I can only conclude it's envy because those who were not duped by fanatical, oppressive and phony church doctrine prospered.

    What did the Jews, Greeks, Italians and other minorities in Quebec have to do with the demise of the French churches? Nothing! Unfortunately, I suppose the racist rhetoric spread around by the likes of Lionel Groulx stuck.

    Because this is a Christojudaic society, I believe there is something to the cliché "When in Rome..." That Sikhs could carry around Kirpans and Muslim women can cover their faces flies in the ways of our society. I'm OK with birquas, turbans and other religious garb.

    Our society doesn't look favorably upon things like bare breasted women walking the streets even though it's now within the constitution to do so. In other societies, this is acceptable, but not ours. Loud burping after meals in some cultures is a compliment to the cook in some societies, but here we excuse ourselves when it occurs. It is a bodily function, but it's considered good manners here to do whatever is possible to stifle and suppress it...at least keep it as inconspicuous as possible.

    In short, we have our societal standards, and while we should and do accommodate other behaviours and rituals different from our own, there are other areas that need to conform to our society...at least to a reasonable extend.

    How they observe their religion and rituals in their home is NO business of mine or that of anybody else outside the home unless it disrupts the neighbourhood or public order in general.

    That a hicktown like Hérouxville came out unilaterally with a Code of Conduct was quite a shock. Premier Goldilocks didn't know how to handle that powder keg, so he got some friends together, paid them $5 million to tell Quebec society how to handle things. A lot of the issues remain unsolved.

    Whatever the case, a half century has transpired since the Quiet Revolution so it's time Quebec conform to North American standards or remain an antagonizing backwater to the rest of Canada. I personally am not satisfied with Quebec's progress, but maybe that's just me.

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  6. A religious object or not, a dagger can be used as a weapon. The parliament security just followed the protocol and got that one right. If the Sikhs were not let in on account of their turbans, then it would have been a different story.

    There are limits to accommodations. For example - the Muslim veil has to come off for driver's license photos, police mug shots, etc...No exceptions.

    However, the other side of the problem cannot be dismissed either. Like when secular fascists like mdm.Beaudoin call for a ban on burkas in all public spaces. This is where the line gets crossed.

    Paul Scheffer is excellent when it comes to these issues. He will defend the right of every Dutch Muslim to practice his religion, but he will oppose every Muslim who attempts to shove Islam down the throats of non-believers and skeptics.

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  7. For me there is a danger that intolerants are attacking something justifiable that hides the real agenda of forced assimilation.

    Here is what I mean: the islamic veil predates islam. People on the Arabian peninsula wore the veil before the birth of Mohammad. Essentially the people in traditional dress we see on the streets means only that we have sand-people walking amongst us. They dress differently. Obviously foreign. They don't look or talk like us, and don't want to be like us. But hey, if we make it about "womens rights" then we can justify forcing them to wear jeans and addidas runners, force them to speak our language. "We, the Quebeqois are actually acting chivirously in persecuting you for the way you dress as we protecting the fair maidens from you evil oppressors ...".

    Similarly the Sikhs wear funny hats. They look different to us. There is no justification of pretending it is about the protection of their women folk. But hey, they wear these 1cm little gold pieces of jewlery on a gold chain around their neck, one in the shape of a comb, and another in the shape of a dagger, as well as wearing a steel bracet to comply with thier faith. "I know! Lets attack them for the dagger, and then maybe we can force them to wear blue jeans and addidas runners and dress and walk and speak like you and me".

    Jews seem to be safe for the moment, but maybe by the same logic we can protect their women folk from the evil oppressors by outlawing the shaving of heads. Maybe the prayer shawl can be construed a weapon of strangulation and be banned from public buildings. "This is not because you dress differently, honest. It is just out of the principals of our society that we need to uphold."

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  8. "In fact Vancouver, that paragon of tolerance has the highest incidence of hate crimes in Canada (6.3 per 100,000 population)"

    I bet doughnuts to dollars, for having personnaly dealt with police in both location, that it goes under reported in quebec, policeman have a habit here or encouraging you not to file a report. too much work fro the policemen.

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  9. Am I being culturally daft by asking why didn’t the Sikhs leave the kirpan at the door? Why couldn’t they do that? Are Sikhs not allowed to temporarily part with their kirpans, like never? There’s got to be some moments and activities in their lives where this is impracticable and permitted. Why not for legitimate security reasons? There’s nothing personal, insensitive, or rude about it. I don’t get it. Call it a kirpan or a knife, that’s a big hunk of pointy steal. If it were a big pointy crucifix of equal size I’d feel the same way. I’d be wondering, why a person needed such at thing in such a situation. Why can’t people momentarily suspend their customs for security reasons? I just don’t think people should bring pointy steal things into a security zone. I don’t agree that an exception should be made because it’s an article of faith. I don’t think we can get by on trust alone. Good and bad people do bad things in the name of religion. Assuming that people of faith are intrinsically good is naïve. I don’t see a Kirpan as an inert and innocuous object that automatically vouches for the bearer's piousness, or reveals a righteous state of mind. I say park the knife at the door and pick it up as you leave. No slight intended, no harm done. The kirpan is considered to be both a defensive weapon and a symbol? It’s a tool to be used to prevent violence? Some Sikhs consider that a kirpan must be viable as a weapon to fulfill the religious criteria. I think the Supreme Court of Canada and the federal Parliament are mistaken in their policy.

    Anyway, this whole issue reminds me once again; just how frustratingly complicated the Quebec/Canada relationship really is involving a mind numbing combination of history, geography, language, religion, customs, politics, and social policies like immigration. In this instance we hear politicians repeating the mantra that the Quebecois do not believe in multiculturalism, an official policy of the Canadian government. Clearly the Quebecois prefer assimilation of Anglos and ethnic minorities into the dominant Quebecois culture. So at the root of this we have another difference of ideology. I think a good deal of the tension between the two sides can be traced back to dogmatic clashes. Not an easy state of affairs to reconcile in my estimation. In it all I wonder, are the Quebecois and Canadians so fundamentally different that we now have to face irreconcilable differences? We’re we always like that? Were our ancestors idealistic fools for thinking otherwise? Did our shared beliefs eventually erode over time, or were our beliefs slowly reshaped by social engineering with the federal camp going one way and the seppie camp going the other? Without a doubt, we are two solitudes with a growing divide and an ebbing will to change.

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  10. "The intolerance and aggression shown to Jewish students in Anglophone universities like Concordia."
    Seriously? What is this 2002? The riot was over 10 years ago and things have been very different for a long time.

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  11. "Quebeckers are much more sensitive to religious extremism, having been the victim of a domineering church up until the last generation. "

    Excuse me, I am part of this Church and very proud of my Catholic heritage, culture, History and beliefs....
    - Seems that Catholic hatred and persecution by Protestants is starting to take place once again in Canada

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  12. um, this article is wrong- in quebec, french bigots have nearly all the bureaucratic and law jobs, so if it is a complaint against french bigotry to other cultures, it is dismissed, put off, or 'lost'. This is like saying China has a 100% conviction rate. Well... yes... but...

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