REPLICA – Frédéric Bérard did me a great favor this Wednesday by summarizing in a single article most of the untruths and half-truths circulating on my account about secularism (Lisée, Kaboul and St-Jérôme). Metro readers deserve better, I’ll correct columnist’s copy.
TRUE: He writes: “Before the veil debate was elevated to the rank of media-political obsession, the columnist wrote: ‘The veil? Honestly, I’ve gotten used to it and whatever you put on your head shouldn’t arouse national anger.” That was 15 years ago, before religious symbols were explicitly discussed in the state agreed that government officials are not allowed to show conviction I then explained it on my blog, still online and have never changed my mind since.
FALSE: I would have been wrong, he writes, if I had “misleadingly associated Alexandre Cloutier with Adil Charkaoui” during the 2016 leadership race. The reality is that the toxic imam wrote what he called “Alexander” on his Facebook page good, and what evil he thought of me. A journalist drew my attention to this unpleasant fact. When I attacked the Cloutier team head-on on the issue of secularism, I responded by drawing attention to that fact. I also stated that Alexander obviously never wanted this annoying support, but the Imam did it again.
WRONG: Bérard describes me as “accusing his rival of wishing Ramadan a happy ending [ses] Muslim friends”. This quote does not exist. On the contrary, I wrote about religious holidays that “observing them is not forbidden, but in my humble opinion it is better if the state does not intervene. At least that would be my practice as a chef.” I believe that the systematic reporting of religious holidays helps to define communities by religion rather than their other characteristics.
WRONG: The columnist quotes me as saying: “In Africa, the AK47 is under the burqa, it has proven itself there”. He claims that “no case has been identified, here as elsewhere”. In fact, the cases are so documented that several West African countries, victims of terrorist attacks perpetrated in this way, have banned full veiling, which Google could easily have taught him (read here). I had also written that it was only a matter of time before we experienced a similar situation at home. But in North America, criminal use (by bandits, not devotees) of the full veil has been noted in one homicide, attempted homicide, robbery in Canada, and in several robberies (the more recent one here) and one kidnapping in the United States. sexually assaulting a teenage girl in Philadelphia.
FAKE. He explains this: “Politician-Scorpio burns during a PQ partisan action, repeatedly yells into the microphone, “Hijabs are everywhere… that’s enough!”, and urges the crowd to join him. The video exists. We see neither repetition nor howling. My position is that educators in subsidized day care centers should not wear religious or other signs. In Montreal daycares, the most visible sign — indeed, the only discernible sign of belief — is a symbol that specifically signifies modesty and feminine submission, the polar opposite of what we want to instill in our children.
FALSE: Bérard accuses me of not seeing that the analogy between Saudi Arabia and Montreal is “null, absurd and void”. On Saturday in Le Devoir, I wrote: “The situation is obviously very different in Montreal, where, according to a speaker interviewed in these pages, the veil can be a feminist symbol. I have no doubt.”
FALSE: Bérard, regarding the veil, confirms the “voluntary nature of the port in question among the women of Quebec” and that “the sad and damaging illustrations from other parts of the world have no chance of resonating here”. No chance? Last year, a Montreal father of Algerian descent was convicted of plotting to kill his four daughters because they wanted to “dress like Quebecers.” An echo of the 2009 murder of three young Montrealers (and their mother-in-law) by their Shafia parents of Afghan origin, dissatisfied with their daughters’ inadequate Islamic behavior. Bérard should be ashamed to ignore the existence of the compulsory veil in Montreal, even if, we hope, it is a minority.
Finally, Frédéric, a sympathetic man whom I take no hostility to, attacks my intellectual honesty by claiming that I am too “intelligent and cultured to (sincerely) believe my worldly arguments”. I don’t reciprocate. On the contrary, I believe that Frédéric, despite his intelligence (sincerely), sees as evidence of modernity and openness the normalization of symbols of undoubtedly unequal, misogynistic and homophobic religions in state advertising, which many Quebec women, including those of Arab origin, perceive as similar become the banners of oppression.
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