Muslim Council of Montreal criticizes PQ Leader for comments made about Hijab

March 15, 2007

Montreal, Quebec, Mar. 15th, 2007- The Muslim Council of Montreal (MCM) denounced today the comments made by Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair in support of the recent firing of a hijab wearing Muslim female correctional officer in Bordeaux.

“It is very disappointing to see such backwards statements coming from our political leaders,” said Salam Elmenyawi, president of MCM. “Such ideas go against the values and principles of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mr. Boisclair would do well to leave such matters up to the Human Rights Commission, as it is not his jurisdiction to rewrite the Charter. Instead he is contributing to the xenophobia and racism that only serves to break down societies and divide neighbours.”

MCM finds it unacceptable that political leaders are exploiting the recent hysteria over the distorted debates and disinformation on the issue of reasonable accommodation in the middle of an election campaign.

“With such statements, Mr. Boisclair is alienating himself from the conscious minded Quebecers in this election,” Elmenyawi said. “His vision of Quebec is not the vision we hold and it is certainly not a vision that will allow for people to live in peace, justice harmony and equality.”

“The rights guaranteed by the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms are for all people and there are no second-class citizens in Quebec with second-class rights. Depriving minority groups of their rights like this and taking away their opportunities for government employment will only isolate them into ghettos and create the same ills and social unrest that we saw in France recently. It is a slippery and dangerous slope.”

MCM is especially disappointed to hear such comments given that today marks the first day of the annual Action Week against Racism in Quebec. This year’s theme is The Workplace: A Racism-Free Zone.

“Students of all ages on the province will participate in different activities and workshops to learn about racism and specifically racism in the workplace. They are learning that all people have the right to a workplace that is free of racism and discrimination. It seems that perhaps Mr. Boisclair needs to attend some of these workshops himself.”