Thousands march in Montreal to protest Quebec values charter -

Thousands march in Montreal to protest Quebec values charter


MONTREAL – Thousands jammed the streets of Montreal on Saturday afternoon to denounce Quebec’s proposed charter of values, calling on Premier Pauline Marois to put an end to “politics of division.”

The protest march, billed as an inclusive, multicultural event, drew many members of the Muslim and Sikh communities in particular. Others who claimed no religious allegiance also took part.

A group from a local mosque walked with a large banner that read: “Multi-faith gathering for peace.”

“This is a time for all religions to come together for what they believe in,” said Noman Safdar, a 24-year-old engineer who was helping hold up the sign.

“We came here for freedom,” said Safdar, originally from Pakistan and wearing a Muslim cap.

“You can’t go and impose things on people like this.”

The charter unveiled earlier this week has sparked a heated debate.

The Parti Quebecois government wants to forbid Quebec’s public employees from wearing conspicuously visible religious symbols — including hijabs, turbans, yarmulkes and larger-than-average crucifixes.

While opinion polls indicate there is some support for the charter, mainly in the province’s outlying regions, opponents have called it discriminatory.

The PQ, which holds a minority in the provincial legislature, contends the move is necessary to ensure the public service presents a neutral face and protect equality between men and women.

For many at the rally, though, the most immediate concern was how the law would limit their job prospects.

Salma Ahmed, a high school student who wears a Muslim headscarf, said she doesn’t want her career options to be hampered.

“We’re all really worried at school,” said Ahmed, 17, who came to the rally with several friends who also wear headscarves.

Harbhajan Singh, a 60-year-old Sikh who wears a turban, believes the charter could lead to a “brain drain,” like the one he witnessed following the 1995 Quebec referendum on sovereignty.

“We have been living very peacefully here, with no problems,” said Singh, who emigrated from India 40 years ago.

“As a human being, it’s my right to practice my religion.”

The march began at a downtown square that was the site of last year’s nightly demonstrations against former premier Jean Charest’s tuition hikes.

This time, though, the target was Marois.

Stephen Kernaghan, a Concordia University student, said he isn’t religious but felt it was important to protest against it anyway, and show “that there’s another side to the province, and we don’t support those ideas.”

One popular chant referred to the PQ proposal as the “charter of shame.” Another derided Marois for pursuing “politics of division,” and finished with the punch line: “Quebec is not France.”

Marois has praised that country’s secular integration model, which includes a ban on hijabs in schools.

Not all religious organizations, however, were on board with the protest.

A Jewish group said it decided not to participate in the rally because it was planned for the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur.

Quebec’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said it’s against the charter of values but doesn’t want to be associated with some of the organizers, which included the Quebec Collective Against Islamophobia.

In a statement, the group said the Jewish community “will not accept to be co-opted or manipulated by the dubious objectives of some of the organizers of the demonstration, who include religious radical fundamentalists with whom the Jewish community will never make common cause.”

Adil Charkaoui, a spokesman for the Quebec Collective Against Islamophobia, said the demonstration was meant to bring together representatives from all religions.

He added that it’s only one of several planned actions against the proposed charter.

“We were all together to say to Marois, ‘we don’t want your charter,'” he told reporters.

“This kind of politics is very dangerous for Quebec society.”

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Thousands march in Montreal to protest Quebec values charter

    • Needs a English version for 72% of us.

      • Click the word ‘captions’ at the bottom right of the screen…you’ll get English.

  1. Canadian culture of men and women being equal, and of separation of church and state mater more. Government needs to present and behave neutral to various cultures, and thus I support the Quebec initiative.

    I would even suggest if ANY religion can’t treat thee women the same as men, they have their tax free status yanked.

    If they don’t present themselves as visually neutral to Canadians, quit the job. Religion and culture have no business being in government at all. Its a Canadian cultural value I am unwilling to sacrifice for push Islamics. Go ahead an push, but we should ignore and discard this backwards attitude unless we want the same problems as other Islam countries have. Islam needs to learn tolerance and respect of others values, and not be so dogmatic.

    I support no religion in government, as religion in government doesn’t work anywhere it has been tried. Especially Islam.

    • Then work to remove ‘religion’ itself….all religion….from govt laws and rules….and stop worrying about what people wear. Clothing is not religion.

      • You’ll never convince me that a great symbol of idiocy such as yourself is unable to understand religious symbolism thrown up to advance a harmful political position.

        And that’s what is under attack here, by Premier Marois; dishonest underhanded politics disguising itself as religious symbolism. And having watched you blabber away here 7,918 times I know you’re just trolling your little heart out on this one hoping to deflect away from the real issue. N’est ce pas?

        • “A great symbol of idiocy…”

          Best description of Emily I’ve seen yet. A few weeks ago in another thread, she was lamenting the lack of enlightenment among today’s population. It was downright funny to see that complaint coming from someone who fancies herself as “enlightened”, but whose prolific Internet comments consistently betray the exact opposite.

  2. Too late/ English Rights and freedoms were taken away decades ago. Ethnic cleansing, and fascism is alive and well in Quebec

  3. Islam has no place in Western society. None. Canada should stop funding terrorists and paedophiles and deport them all. No exceptions.

    • Muslims have always been in this country. There are now over a million of them

      Do you judge all christians by Pat Robertson or Timothy McVeigh?

    • We fund paedophiles? Damn, that’s just wrong!

  4. Anything covering the face of an individual must be banned. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms says men and women are to be treated equal. Therefore anything that gives the perception of inequality cannot be tolerated. Total face coverings have been outlawed while exercising one’s right to protest. So, if one is work involves serving the general public, one’s face should be totally visible. I would think I have the right to see who I am dealing with. Maybe everyone should start wearing a ski mask. It would be interesting to see what would happen. I would be willing to bet lots of people would be getting their heads bashed in by corrupt cops so they can make a point.

  5. This is a problem with the muslims and all religions are getting dragged into it,
    The more muslims in a country and the more problems that country will have.
    Muslims believe non-muslims are trash.

  6. Majority of Canadians don’t want Muslim immigration to Canada.
    That’s a fact.
    2 reasons muslims come to a predominately Christian country with secular values.
    They can barely survive in their POS former muslim country and they want to eventually impose their muslim religion.