More anti-charter protests in Quebec City, Montreal
Published Sunday, October 6, 2013 12:20PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 6, 2013 5:49PM EDT
QUEBEC CITY -- A group of about 200 people opposed to the controversial proposal of a Quebec Charter of Values demonstrated Sunday in Quebec City.
The group is opposed to a charter that would ban Quebecers in public office from wearing any prominent religious clothing or jewellery, including headscarves, kippas, turbans and crucifixes.
The Sunday protest was led by Muslim leader Adil Charkaoui, who also organized a protest in Montreal last month, gathering some 5,000 people.
The group, which says it brings together citizens of all faiths, began protesting in front of the National Assembly at noon. Many protesters arrived in Quebec City by bus from various parts of the province.
“No for your charter, no for your ideas, no for your discussion, no for your compromise. Just take it off, just remove it,” said Salam Elmenyawi of the Muslim Council of Montreal.
It is calling the PQ proposal for a charter of values “discriminatory and Islamophobic.”
Taha Abdel-Rahman, a biologist from Sherbrooke, said Quebec’s diversity is necessary for cultural survival.
“It's like a forest, the people are like plants in the forest, so all the plants in the forest live together and they are different in their colour, in the shape,” he said.
Abdel-Rahman came to Canada from Egypt in 2007, because he thought it was a “land of freedom,” he said, adding that because of the proposed charter, he’s not so sure anymore.
Quebec-born Muslim Warda Lacoste said she wears a burka, but regularly removes it to integrate better in Montreal, saying she understands that not everyone understands the burka.
“I think we need to chat together. I think we need to share our ideas and values, then afterwards we will see, but I think the real problem is not my clothes,” she said, adding that she felt the real problem is xenophobia.
“The minority government of Pauline Marois, they are proposing this charter as an electoral manouevre,” said protester Ali Dahman. “They think they will win the election.”
Dahman said he’s convinced voters won’t go for it.
“I'm sure that the majority of our Quebecers are against, even in the countryside and everywhere in Quebec,” he said.
Another gathering of pro-charter advocates was planned at the same time and same place, but it was postponed to the end of October.
In Montreal, rainy weather may have deterred more participants, as about a dozen people from the Sikh and Muslim communities also held an anti-charter event Sunday afternoon, starting at Athena Park on Bloomfield St. in Park Extension.
The government has not said when the government will introduce a bill on the Charter of Quebec Values, but it is expected this fall.