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Islamic holiday celebration in Montreal park draws ire from secularists

Quebec's provincial flag flies on a flagpole in Ottawa on June 30, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press) Quebec's provincial flag flies on a flagpole in Ottawa on June 30, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
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Images shared on social media of Muslims praying together in a Montreal park have sparked controversy in the province.

Members of the city's Muslim community gathered earlier this week to celebrate Eid al-Adha, a holiday to mark the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

But their communal prayers in a park in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough led to complaints from citizens and political pundits.

Le Devoir newspaper published a letter from a group of secularists denouncing the public prayers, and the topic was discussed in the media.

In response, borough Mayor Emilie Thuillier says she will consider banning all religious events in public parks.

Frederic Dejean, a professor in the department of religion at Universite du Quebec a Montreal, says much larger gatherings for Christians that take place on the streets of downtown Montreal haven't stirred up anger.

But David Rand, a spokesperson for a collective representing pro-secularism organizations in Quebec, says religious celebrations should not be allowed on public space because they exclude people who aren't members of the faith.

Samer Majzoub of the Canadian Muslim Forum says there was nothing controversial about the Eid celebrations and he says Muslims are unfairly singled out in the province.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 11, 2024.

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