Canada: Islam Sparks Fiery Debate in Quebec


There was the woman who feared that Quebec would be overrun by Muslims. There were anecdotes about Muslims unwilling to integrate. Mentions of massacres in Muslim countries.

For an area where Muslims make up less than 0.7 per cent of the local population, Islam repeatedly came up as a source of anxiety last night as the public commission looking at religious accommodations stopped in the Mauricie area, midway between Montreal and Quebec City.

It was in this region that the village of Hérouxville made headlines last year with its "code of conduct" warning prospective newcomers that practices such as wearing face veils or stoning women would not be tolerated.

While the code was decried by pundits as a mean-spirited caricature of Islam, its initiators say they have been flooded with supportive mail from across Quebec.

On the one hand last night, there were people like Jean-Pierre Trépanier, who made the first remarks at the open-mike forum attended by more than 180 people.

"I am ashamed to be a Quebecker when I hear the stupidities and inanities such as those of Hérouxville," Mr. Trépanier said.

But most who followed him had gripes against minorities.

"When someone imposes something on you, it's up to them to stop imposing it if it bothers you," said André Drouin, a Hérouxville municipal councillor who was behind the code.

Mr. Drouin and Bernard Thompson, another originator of the Hérouxville code, are presenting a brief today where they will argue that no accommodations should be granted to religious minorities.

"If they're not happy and they're unsatisfied, let them go back to their country and make it better," Jacques Landry said to applause, as he thanked the people of Hérouxville. (READ MORE)


 


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