04/17/2015 06:00 EDT | Updated 06/17/2015 05:59 EDT

Quebec Must Address its Growing Climate of Islamophobia

AFP via Getty Images
A Pakistani woman holds a Quebec flag during a demonstration called 'No One is Illegal' against the World Trade Organization meeting 27 July 2003 in Montreal. At the WTO's informal meeting starting 28 July 2003, trade ministers will attempt to find common ground over the divisive issues of farm subsidies and medicine for poorer countries that have stalled the latest round of global trade talks. AFP PHOTO/Normand BLOUIN (Photo credit should read NORMAND BLOUIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Muslim Quebecers have become victims of an increasingly dangerous Islamophobic environment. Recently, Quebec has witnessed very alarming anti-Muslim and anti-Islam rhetoric that has led to moral onslaught against citizens of Muslim faith. Such toxic atmosphere has been reflected in incidents of violence against Muslim Quebecers youth, women, men, community centers and mosques.

Since the establishment of the Commission on Reasonable Accommodation in 2007 followed by Bill 94 tabled by the PLQ in 2010, then Bill 60 (Quebec Charter of Values) presented by the Parti Quebecois in 2013, the planned PLQ programs and measures to fight what is called "religious radicalism" in 2015, and finally the promised new Charter of Quebec Values to be presented by the provincial government during its current mandate ending in 2018.

Some running contenders from different political parties in addition to existing elected officials do not hide their intentions to join their peers in either introducing or supporting regulations that target Muslim culture under diffident labels and excuses.

The motto that secular Quebec is in opposition to all religious beliefs due to its history of social clash with the church is not quite correct in this context. While it's an open highway for media outlets, politicians and others to offend, insult and attack the Muslim Quebec community by degrading its public figures, religious rituals, and tainting its institutions with shrouds of rumours, these smear and hatred campaigns are rarely targeting other citizens' groups and cultures within the society. This fact brings the bitter reality that Muslim Quebecers have been under tremendous pressure with the evident lack of political will to stop the moral onslaught against noticeable segments of Quebec society.

The continuing violation of the basic human right to security and dignity has witnessed a surge in chauvinistic media campaigns against Quebec Muslims lately. Some media reports allege that the community's schools and places of worship are related to "terrorist" organizations. By doing so, the level of prejudice against Muslim Quebecers has reached its peak in recent history in the province. Such rumours have crossed ethics and principles of honest media reporting putting children, pupils, employees and ordinary citizens at danger by associating them with institutions that are connected to alleged "fanatics."

The exaggeration of incidents, twisting of facts and the discriminatory campaigns against any group of citizens due to their religious or ethnic background will lead to unhealthy social harmony within any society. In Quebec, Islamophobia, has become a strong trend that needs our attention as Quebecers from all stripes of the province's elite, politicians, media, public figures and the general public to unite to defeat unfairness and racism. Quebec human rights values are great tools to fight all sorts of bigotry and intolerance. Islamophobia should have no place in Quebec.

Samer Majzoub is president of the Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF)


  • September 2014 - 'Muslim Convert'-Gate
    The Sun
    Last month, a man was arrested in connection with the death of 82-year-old Palmira Silva, who was reportedly beheaded in her own garden.
    The Sun was branded "deliberately inflammatory" as people questioned why his religion was relevant, especially given that the police had ruled out any link to terrorism by that stage.
  • May 2014 - Halal Hysteria
    The Sun
    Pizza Express' 'halal secret' screamed the headline. It reported that all the chicken used by the chain was killed in accordance with Islamic law, sparking a race by the press to see who could reveal which other food outlets sold what type halal meat first.
    This was onstensibly reported as an animal welfare issue but controversy over whether halal-slaughtered animals do suffer more - and the fact Pizza Express already said on its website its chicken was halal - left some unconvinced.
  • July 2013 - Ramadan a ding-dong
    The Sun
    Using a mocking pun to discuss a sensitive issue, The Sun said that Channel 4's decision to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan could "inflame tension", which prompted this reply:
  • March 2008 - The Muslim bus driver who asked everyone to get off his bus to pray
    The Sun
    The Sun reported that London bus driver Arunas Raulynaitis had stopped his bus so he could pray and was mistaken for a "fanatic" because of his rucksack.
    Five months later, the paper apologised and said the claims were "completely untrue".
    "Mr Raulynaitis is not a fanatic and he did not ask passengers to leave his bus to allow him to pray," the correction read. "In fact, he was praying during his statutory rest break."
  • October 2006 - Muslim hate mobs attack soldiers' homes
    The Sun
    Brave soldiers. Yobbish Muslims. In a fit of tabloid adjectives, The Sun reported Muslims had hounded Afghanistan veterans out of the Berkshire neighbourhood they wanted to rent a house in.
    Months later, the paper conceded: "Police have been unable to establish if any faith or religious group was responsible for the incident. We are happy to make this clear."
  • February 2008 - Muslims' Hospital Bug Snub
    The Sun
    'Thousands of hospital patients are in danger of catching deadly superbugs because Muslim medical students refuse to follow new hygiene rules,' the paper reported.
    In their book Muslims Under Siege, authors James Jones and Peter Oborne visited Leicester University to see the evidence for themselves.
    'Not a single doctor or member of staff we spoke to had come across any problems with hand-washing,' they wrote.
    'Dr Paul Symonds, Reader and Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Leicester University, told us: "I personally haven’t seen it. I know of no-one who says they’ve seen it, and I’ve discussed it with our junior staff, nurses, colleagues, and everyone just looks blankly at me with blank incomprehension… the issue has not arisen."'