Muslim Council of Montreal welcomes the creation of a commission to study reasonable accommodation

February 11, 2007
Hopeful commission will combat racism, xenophobia and religious bigotry, instead of unwittingly propagating them

Montreal, Quebec, Feb. 11th, 2007- The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) welcomes Premier Jean Charest’s establishment of a commission to head a study into the reasonable accommodation debate in Quebec.

“This is a step in the right direction, a step that will allow us to have an open and informative debate on this issue and to move away from biases and hidden agendas,” said Salam Elmenyawi, president of MCM. “In a province as diverse and multicultural as Quebec, such a debate is needed to find a suitable balance without infringing on the religious rights of any group of people and without dividing our society. We hope that the study by commissioners, Mr. Gerald Bouchard and Mr. Charles Taylor, help enrich and strengthen our society.”

MCM reminds the commission to be careful not to encroach on the freedom of religion in an attempt to define reasonable accommodation and to uphold the values and principles enshrined in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms, especially the right to equality without discrimination based on race, ethnicity and religion.

“Any efforts made by a society to accommodate the needs of its minorities will result in social harmony, proper integration and successful society,” Elmenyawi said. “In order to ensure social harmony in Quebec there must neither be a case of the majority imposing over the minority nor of the minority imposing over the majority. A fine balance is needed, to secure the rights and freedoms of all, and to ensure that Quebec and Canada respect their commitment to international obligations on civil, religious, political and cultural rights.”

MCM also calls on the Government to take the necessary steps to ensure that hate speech and religious defamation have no place in Quebec society and to introduce and implement prevention measures against such actions as soon as possible.

Furthermore, MCM recommends that part-time commissioners be appointed who will reflect principles of inclusion and diversity and Quebec society’s multi-ethnic character.