This is a big improvement over what we have seen from American Muslim advocacy groups. There is still a long way to go, however. How about a forthright renunciation of Islamic supremacism and the imperative ultimately to impose Sharia? “Quebec’s Muslims get organized,” by Jeff Heinrich for The Gazette (thanks to Jojo):
SHERBROOKE – The burgeoning Muslim population in Quebec is organizing itself to avoid “exaggerated” demands for special treatment and rein in “preachers of hate,” the Bouchard-Taylor commission heard this morning.
“The Muslim community is large, but distinctions must be made,” said Abdallah Annab, president of the Association des marocaines et des marocains de l’Estrie, which represents many of the 1,500 Muslims in the Eastern Townships.
“A Muslim from Afghanistan is not a Muslim from the Maghreb – there are several doctrines, there is Sunni Islam and Shi’ite Islam, and there are clear divisions between them,” said Annab, a Sunni from Morocco who works in Sherbrooke as a tax auditor for Revenu Quebec.
His association prepared its brief with the local Sunni Muslim association in Sherbrooke “in order to find a basis of agreement to ensure that our image as Muslims is not tarnished and there aren’t any exaggerated demands for accommodation,” he said.
“In general, there aren’t many that are exaggerated,” he added.
Ah. What a relief. Still, just talking about the possibility is a step up.
But one way to short-circuit unreasonable demands is to rein in imams at mosques who fill the faithful’s heads with distorted views of Quebec society, Annab said.
“We do suggest that there be limits to what (Muslim) preachers say. They should adapt to the reality here and understand the realities of Quebec society,” Annab told commissioners Gerard Bouchard and Charles Taylor.
“Because what happens sometimes – and we don’t know how they wind up here – is that preachers come here to preach hate,” he said.
How does that happen, exactly? It might be worthwhile to find out.
“And we must insist on this point, that people who give religious instruction be informed, and that there be some kind of control over what they say.”
Outside the hearing, the leader of the Sherbrooke’s Sunni Muslim community agreed that some demands have been exaggerated, but denied that mosques in the region are cauldrons of intolerance.
“People have asked for things which, it can be said, are not legitimate, but it’s usually done out of ignorance,” said Elmostafa Habboub, a Moroccan-immigrant educator who heads the Association culturelle islamique de ‘Estrie.
Ah. Ignorance. Of course. There is always so much of that: misunderstanders of Islam, ignorantly thinking it enjoins them to commit acts of violence.
He gave no examples of accommodations asked for in the Townships, but added “it’s just a matter of time” before some begin to make headlines.
Far from being hate-mongers, Muslims in Sherbrooke reach out to other religions, said Habboub, whose association has allied with local Catholic, Protestant and Syrian Orthodox organizations to call for the creation in Quebec of an ecumenical council to act as a “filter” for accommodation requests.
Haboub volunteers at Sherbrooke’s only mosque, frequented by Muslims from 30 countries, mostly from North Africa. (There’s also a small Shi’ite centre in the east of the city).
“There are some little frictions from time to time,” said Habboub. “But at the Sherbrooke mosque, I think the message is quite, quite all right. We’ve never had any complaints from anyone. We’ve always been very peaceful.”
Testifying later with association colleague Walid Dridi, Habboub added that Muslims asking for an accommodation in Quebec shouldn’t be surprised if they’re refused….