Discomfort around the creation of a “national Day against islamophobia”

Photo: Annik MH de Carufel Le Devoir
Hundreds of people have paid tribute to the victims by participating in vigils in the days following the attack on the grand mosque of Quebec.

The debate on a possible “national Day against islamophobia” takes a twist on semantics. Several political parties, both in Quebec and in Ottawa, consider the word “islamophobia” is too strong and “too responsible” for the January 29, 2017, one day when a crazed gunman killed six muslims, the door to this fight.


“Yes, the word “islamophobia” is loaded. And I found that it was fairly debated divisions around the presence of religion in Quebec “, said the Duty Agnès Maltais, member of the parti québecois and spokesperson of the official opposition in matters of secularism. She points out in passing that there is a canadian Class anti-islamophobia, whose spokesman is Adil Charkaoui, a controversial personality.


Last week, the national Council of canadian muslims (CNMC) has requested the government of Trudeau in the January 29, more than a mere day of commemoration of the massacre at the mosque of Québec and giving it the title of ” national Day of action against islamophobia “, a bit like the 6 December, the day of the massacre at Polytechnique, has become a ” national Day of action against violence against women “.


The office of the minister for Heritage, Mélanie Joly, has just said on Tuesday that it “took note” of the proposal.


Québec solidaire is the only party that supports the creation of such a day. But the liberal government of Philippe Couillard does not close the door. As for the Coalition avenir Québec, it rejects the idea of a national day of action and considers sufficient that the tragedy is being commemorated.


“It is the gesture intolerable to one person and not that of an entire society. Quebecers are open and welcoming, they are not islamophobic. “


Yes to a commemoration


In an interview with Radio-Canada, Boufeldja Benabdallah, vice-president of the islamic cultural Center, said he was disappointed by the positions of the CAQ and the PQ.


“We have never said that Quebecers were islamophobic, ever. It is a thin part and it is on this thin part that must work, that makes a lot of noise, a lot of trouble, and that has killed six people in their prayer. “


All the parties are however agreed that the January 29, to be reserved each year to the commemoration of the bombing murderer of the mosque of Quebec.


“Let’s be honest, the best tool that will get the support of all, it is a commemoration,” said Ms. Maltais, the PQ. It also stresses that the federal government has waited two years after the massacre of 6 December 1989, in 1991, to make it a national Day of action against violence against women.


The historian of the Université Laval Patrice Groulx argues that it is better to first go through the stage of remembrance, of mourning, stressing the memory of an event. “There is a form of precipitation in there which could be uncomfortable for some,-he said. Some groups want to lift the thing to enjoy a certain “momentum”, and it is all legitimate. But there is the way, the words. It is necessary to be careful. “


A commemoration of an event murderer tragic is not always reflected in the “national day of action” — the explosion of a train in Lac-Mégantic, for example—, but Mr. Groulx recognizes that the slaughter of the mosque has the potential to become one, as was the case for the Polytechnic under the popular pressure.


“With time, one gives a content, a meaning that is different to an event. It is the overcoming social. “


Even discomfort to the federal


Remained silent until now, the political parties at the federal level, except the New democratic Party, finally said aloud. Once again, the word “islamophobia” seems to create a discomfort.


“This term-there is far from consensus,” said Gérard Deltell, by stubbornly refusing to pronounce this word throughout the interview with The Duty. The conservative Party prefers to speak of a commemoration, “more unifying” and ” inclusive “, who had filed a motion in mid-December offering to January 29, the ” national Day of solidarity with the victims of acts of intolerance and violence anti-religious “.


The same semantic argument had divided the federal party when, in the wake of the attacks on the mosque in Quebec, the liberal Iqra Khalid wanted to adopt last year a motion which condemned” islamophobia “. The conservatives refused again to use this term and wanted to make it more widely than is to be condemned ” all forms of systemic racism “, not only to the place of the muslims.


The Bloc quebecois also rejected the idea of a commemoration that target religion specifically. After all, the State must be secular, argued the mp Marilène Gill.