Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Daw'ah in Herouxville, Quebec

Note: This visit by the Muslim women is a typical Daw'ah ploy, soon to be followed by a more stern rebuke for the good town of Herouxville. Then off come the gloves, out come the lawyers. And Andre Drouin, the town councillor, looks to be ready for a good fight. This is re: my Feb 2, 2007 post.

Muslim women visit Que. town that passed code of 'norms'
Canadian Press (National Post)

HEROUXVILLE, Que. — Clad in traditional Islamic head scarves, a delegation of Muslim women paid a visit Sunday to the Quebec town that passed a controversial code aimed at potential immigrants.
Six women, accompanied by a handful of male and female Muslim students, appealed for changes to a so-called “code of life,” which lays out societal norms for Herouxville, 165 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

The declaration, passed by the town council last month, says a person’s face should not be covered, except at Halloween, and that children should sing Christmas songs in December.

It warns would-be immigrants that women can vote, drive and dance if they choose. It says adults can drink alcohol and children cannot bring weapons, religiously symbolic or not, to school despite a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that has already upheld that right for Sikh Canadians.

Although the list has no legal weight, it clearly targets religious minorities, said May Haidar, one of the women who made the journey to the community of 1,300 on Sunday afternoon.

“We’re disappointed by this `code of life,”’ Haidar said.

“It’s apparent there is a misconception and a wrong view of Muslim women, so we want to open a dialogue to let them know us and, of course, we want to know them.”

The town has already toned down the declaration, handing out another version Sunday that removed references to stoning women to death or burning them with acid.
The council said in a statement that the media misinterpreted some aspects of the documents. But much of the code remained the same and the council repeated a call for changes to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to avoid “unreasonable accommodation” of minorities.
Andre Drouin, the town councillor behind the list of norms, said residents were eager to welcome the visitors and prove they are not racists.

But Drouin was unrepentant about the list and said it will stay put.

“No major change,” he told reporters.

He said the council has received thousands of e-mails from all over the world. “We’re not alone in this,” Drouin said. “The e-mails we’ve received… they all say the same thing: `We’re behind you.”’

One nearby town has passed a resolution in support of Herouxville but has not adopted their own "norms.” Another has passed a resolution in support of multiculturalism. The debate over accommodation of ethnic, cultural and religious minorities continues to rage in Quebec and Premier Jean Charest has named a special commission to study the issue.

The Canadian Islamic Congress is still considering a human rights complaint against the Herouxville council.

Haidar, a member of the congress, said no decision has been made.
“We’re going to see what is the reaction from officials in Herouxville and then we’ll see,” she said. About 50 residents came out to meet the women Sunday, sipping coffee as they waited.

Louise Trudel spoke at length with one of the visitors. She said it was nice but accomplished nothing. “We didn’t even speak about the `code de vie,”’ she said. “At a certain point it (accommodation of minorities) must stop.”

Her debate partner, Samira Laouni, felt differently. “For me it was very beneficial,” she said. “I didn’t leave my kids with my husband for nothing.

Another note: Were it not for the encouragement Mr. Drouin received in the many e-mails, it would be much more difficult to hang tough. Keep those e-mails going out to him.
He's about to find out what real pressure is...