This article, originally posted in LEDEVOIR magazine in French has been translated. The original can be read here.
The general premise of the article is the shuffling of cabinet positions in Ottawa and the subsequent advancement of Islamism in Canadian government. In Montreal, a former spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM, formerly CAIR-CAN) Bochra Manaï was appointed anti-racism commissioner. In Ottawa, the former president of the Canadian Arab Federation Omar Alghabra became Minister of Transport. In Toronto, a veiled Muslim journalist Ginella Massa will host a pan-Canadian public affairs program on CBC.
It has been a good week for organizations promoting Islam and for their ideas. A little less good, however, for our non-practicing Muslim fellow citizens. Even worse for supporters of secularism.
The coincidence of the calendar gathered three nominations. In Montreal, a former spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims was appointed anti-racism commissioner. In Ottawa, the former president of the Canadian Arab Federation became Minister of Transport. In Toronto, a veiled Muslim journalist will host a pan-Canadian public affairs program on CBC.
These appointments attest to the capacity of our company to integrate, including in positions of great responsibility, people who have qualities and a meritorious background and who come from a religious minority. The religious affiliation, or atheism, of the chosen people is not at all problematic. The link of two of them with community and religious lobbies, the religious display of a third, however, call for legitimate questions.
The Bloc Québécois was stoned for having written that the new Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra had been linked “to the Islamic movement”. I would have thrown stones too if the Bloc had written “Islamist”, therefore anti-democratic. However Islamic being a synonym of Muslim and Mr. Alghabra having led an organization dedicated to the defense of Muslim Canadians, this is only an observation. Why should this be a taboo? That this federation has pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel positions makes sense. But she regularly defended a strictly Islamist group, Hamas, considered terrorist by several nations, including Canada. In an interview, Mr. Alghabra showed a kindness to this group that deserves clarification.
The new commissioner in charge of curbing racism in Montreal, Bochra Manaï, was also, for a year, spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims. She said this week that she had not known that her organization wanted to allow Muslim parents to exempt their children from music or physical education lessons. She had more clearly understood the position of her employer on the subject of the Quebec law on secularism and had made a powerful voice of it.
One of the tasks that awaits her is the fight against amalgam. Indeed, racist thought accuses a whole people of the faults of certain individuals. Our Jewish friends have been particularly well served: Karl Marx and Rotschild being both Jews, the racists accused all Jews of controlling capitalism and of wanting, simultaneously, to replace it with Bolshevism! The anti-Muslim amalgamation is also reprehensible: some terrorists being Muslims, racists think, they are all dangerous.
I give another example, at random. An individual from Quebec who killed six Muslims, a terrorist, in Australia, cited him among his models. If someone said: “Quebec has become a benchmark for extremist supremacists around the world”, wouldn’t this be an odious amalgamation between a single criminal and all of Quebec?
This is exactly what Ms. Manaï did in a 2019 speech denouncing the law on secularism, putting under the same hat the author of a massacre, the supremacists, all of Quebec and the majority desire to separate concretely religions and the State. Isn’t that worthy of the amalgam gold medal? In addition, five times this week she was asked if she thought that Law 21 was racist. Five times she refused to answer.
Finally, the appointment of veiled host Ginella Massa to a prime-time show on the CBC 24-hour news channel is obviously a great first for freedom: to display one’s convictions. Up to now, the presenters have confined themselves to an appearance of total neutrality. (Appearance, yes, because obviously they have convictions.) They saw in it a mark of respect towards the viewers who have varied opinions and sometimes furiously contradictory. CBC would not have let a presenter show his commitment to Greenpeace, oil or his support for a political party.
Canadian multiculturalism imposes a hierarchy of convictions: religious, yes; the others: no. We understand that tomorrow we could see a presenter displaying a crucifix or a kippah. But what if an atheist wishes to make his lack of faith known to the public? Mystery.
Each person that Ms. Massa will interview will immediately have some information: 1) She believes in God. If this is not the case, know that she disagrees with you; 2) She believes, like the members of every great monotheistic religion, that her god is the only true god. If you have another, it is at odds with the very existence of your god; 3) She does not believe that secularism requires people in authority, at least in information, a duty of clothing reserve. If you think otherwise, she thinks you are wrong.
Its television presence has another consequence. The majority of Muslim women in the country do not wear the hijab. In many mosques, in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods and in many Orthodox families, they resist ambient pressure towards religious dress conformism. The CBC just gave the Orthodox a strong argument. State television says hijab is fine. May this sign of submission to God and feminine modesty, in fact, embody progress and modernity. The CBC provides daily advertising for Veiled Islam. It makes life a little more difficult for Muslim women who resist.