RETRACT XENOPHOBIC 'STANDARDS,' QUEBEC TOWN ASKED
Organizations representing minorities are outraged by a Quebec town's "standards" for newcomers, calling them insulting and xenophobic.
The town council of Hérouxville issued a set of wide-ranging rules for immigrants considering moving there, including bans on beating or burning women alive, veiling one's face and children carrying symbolic weapons to school.
"It is totally distasteful to see someone using this kind of writing and putting it in a public domain, and this is not just an ordinary someone, these are people in authority," said Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal.
Critics urged Quebec Premier Jean Charest - who called the standards an "isolated case" earlier this week - to strongly denounce the town officials. They also want the mayor and councillors to apologize and retract the document. . . .
While the standards largely target Muslims, they also refer to practices of Sikhs, who carry kirpans, or ceremonial religious daggers; Jehovah's Witnesses, who refuse blood transfusions; and Orthodox Jews, who obey strict dietary laws. However, several of the town's standards, such as not killing women, are already illegal under the Criminal Code and others, such as the right to carry a kirpan or wear a head covering, are protected by court rulings or human-rights legislation.
"It really seems like statements that are very far out there. It's something that I feel that has already been covered and I feel almost as if we're going back to a debate of 30 years ago," said Sameer Zuberi, human-rights co-ordinator at the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations.