French-Canadian nationalist party aims to prohibit public-sector employees from wearing religious attire

Originally published on Al Jazeera America – Dec. 13, 2013

MONTREAL — Catherine Lu often passes the giant cross atop Mont Royal on her way to McGill University, where she teaches political theory, focusing on concepts of individual rights.

After lawmakers from Quebec’s center-left, French-Canadian nationalist Parti Quebecois (PQ) in November revealed controversial legislation that would bar public-sector employees from wearing religious dress like Muslim veils, Sikh turbans and Jewish kappas — everything with the exception of small symbols like the cross — Lu says she began to resent the giant crucifix, composed of a few dozen lightbulbs that appear to float above the city after nightfall.

“I see it now as a sign of arbitrary privilege,” she told Al Jazeera. “It has this privileged place that’s totally unjustified.”

Opponents of the Charter of Quebec Values who are mounting what they say will be a large interfaith rally Saturday at Montreal’s Palais des Congres argue that the measure would force non-Christian employees of the state — at government offices, hospitals and schools — to choose between religious observance and their careers.

PQ legislators, who told Al Jazeera that the measure aims to maintain secularism in Quebec, have said the cross is acceptable because it is a symbol of the francophone province’s Catholic roots.

On the first floor of a low-rise office building tucked away in the tiny working-class Montreal suburb of Longueuil is the birthplace of the charter, the office of Minister of Democratic Institutions Bernard Drainville, a PQ member.

The halls of the office are decked for Christmas, with glitter-dusted poinsettias, a tiny cloth Santa head on the receptionist’s desk, applications for Christmas gift baskets in the outbox and a half-eaten gingerbread tree cookie in the common area.

The cover of an edition of the Quebec newspaper Le Courier du Sud features Drainville’s face and a quote in large print: “It’s time to return power to the people.”

“What the government hopes, with this law project, is to affirm certain values that are dear to Quebecers,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Firstly, equality between men and women. For us, this is a nonnegotiable principle … There is also the equality of all citizens of the state,” Drainville said.

He explained that Quebec is “increasingly multiethnic and religiously diverse” and that diversity is a “great treasure for us and all Quebecers.”

“So that these people can continue to live in harmony, we should create a common space, neutral and secular, in our public institutions. That’s what the charter proposes.”

Drainville confirmed to Al Jazeera that his party has halted efforts to keep a cross in the National Assembly if the law is passed.

Unveiling controversy

Charter opponents like Lu call the PQ’s logic a thinly veiled excuse to disadvantage non-Christians at province-funded workplaces.

In a Nov. 18 letter to The New York Times, Drainville wrote of the charter project, “These steps are taken at a time of growth of Islam in Quebec, as everywhere else. But the legislation is not specific to any religion.”

The letter “tells me they are suffering from doublethink,” Lu said. “If people never get exposed to differences, they can maintain their illegitimate, unfounded fears. That’s the biggest barrier to integration.”

That’s why Lu, who was raised in a secular, non-Muslim family in Vancouver, started wearing a hijab, the headscarf worn by some Muslim women, to class in September as news of the charter project arose.

“Many of us think if it passes, that will be the day when we all have a duty to wear a religious symbol,” she said at a cafe just blocks from the giant crucifix, wearing a makeshift hijab she fashioned out of a black ski cap and scarf.

Lu is one of several public employees in Montreal who have pledged to wear religious attire in an act of civil disobedience if the charter proposal passes.

The PQ’s prospective charter has sparked vigorous debate on secular government and religious pluralism in Quebec, cutting across traditional linguistic communities in the French- and English-speaking city of Montreal. A majority of Quebec universities, including McGill, have issued statements against the prohibition. Montreal’s landmark Jewish General Hospital has pledged to defy the law if it passes and allow employees to wear religious dress.

But charter opponents like Lu call the PQ’s logic a thinly veiled excuse to disadvantage non-Christians at province-funded workplaces.

In a Nov. 18 letter to the New York Times, Drainville wrote, of the charter project, “These steps are taken at a time of growth of Islam in Quebec, as everywhere else. But the legislation is not specific to any religion.”

The letter “tells me they are suffering from double-speak,” Lu said.

“If people never get exposed to differences, they can maintain their illegitimate, unfounded fears. That’s the biggest barrier to integration.”

That’s why Lu, who was born secular and raised in a non-Muslim family in Vancouver, started wearing hijab — the headscarf worn by some Muslim women — to class in September, as news of the charter project started to arise.

“Many of us think if it passes, that will be the day when we all have a duty to wear a religious symbol,” Lu said, wearing the makeshift hijab she fashioned out of a black ski cap and scarf at a cafe, just blocks from the giant crucifix.

Lu is one of several public employees in Montreal who’ve pledged to wear religious gear in an act of civil disobedience if the charter proposal passes.

The PQ’s prospective charter has sparked vigorous debate on secular government and religious pluralism in Quebec, cutting across traditional linguistic communities in the French and English speaking city of Montreal. A majority of Quebec universities, including Lu’s McGill, have issued statements against the ban. Montreal’s landmark Jewish General Hospital has officially pledged to engage in civil disobedience by allowing employees to wear religious dress if the law passes.

The polemic rages on at a time when other countries are also starting to impose bans on Muslim religious dress, in what opponents to the legislation call an infringement on personal freedoms and proponents argue is a step against encroaching religious influences in the state and toward winning rights for Muslim women.

Lu plans to mount another protest-by-veil on the week of Jan. 14, when the charter proposal returns to Quebec’s National Assembly for debate.

She said the charter has in recent days posed a more tangible threat to local Muslims.

“People who are already prejudiced now feel like they have a license. When the state accords inferior status to some citizens, it’s saying we can infringe on rights of these citizens more than others, for some people they’ll read that as a license to act in discriminatory ways,” Lu said.

Genevieve Lepage is a Quebec Muslim who wears the veil and is a lecturer on social psychology at the Université de Montréal. She spoke to Al Jazeera at Abou Baker Asseddique Mosque, a small prayer facility above a hair salon in northern Montreal that houses the Association Musulmane Québécoise, a Muslim advocacy group where Lepage is a spokeswoman.

Lepage says that since the charter was passed, she and her acquaintances have experienced more attacks, hostile stares and racial epithets from people who she says have been emboldened by the proposed legislation.

Lepage worries that, if the charter passes, she will need to leave her native Quebec to find a new job after over a decade pursuing a doctorate in hopes of getting her current position.

“I might become a religious refugee. Wow,” she said.

But charter opponents like Lu call the PQ’s logic a thinly veiled excuse to disadvantage non-Christians at province-funded workplaces.

In a Nov. 18 letter to the New York Times, Drainville wrote, of the charter project, “These steps are taken at a time of growth of Islam in Quebec, as everywhere else. But the legislation is not specific to any religion.”

The letter “tells me they are suffering from double-speak,” Lu said.

“If people never get exposed to differences, they can maintain their illegitimate, unfounded fears. That’s the biggest barrier to integration.”

That’s why Lu, who was born secular and raised in a non-Muslim family in Vancouver, started wearing hijab — the headscarf worn by some Muslim women — to class in September, as news of the charter project started to arise.

“Many of us think if it passes, that will be the day when we all have a duty to wear a religious symbol,” Lu said, wearing the makeshift hijab she fashioned out of a black ski cap and scarf at a cafe, just blocks from the giant crucifix.

Lu is one of several public employees in Montreal who’ve pledged to wear religious gear in an act of civil disobedience if the charter proposal passes.

The PQ’s prospective charter has sparked vigorous debate on secular government and religious pluralism in Quebec, cutting across traditional linguistic communities in the French and English speaking city of Montreal. A majority of Quebec universities, including Lu’s McGill, have issued statements against the ban. Montreal’s landmark Jewish General Hospital has officially pledged to engage in civil disobedience by allowing employees to wear religious dress if the law passes.

The polemic rages on at a time when other countries are also starting to impose bans on Muslim religious dress, in what opponents to the legislation call an infringement on personal freedoms and proponents argue is a step against encroaching religious influences in the state and toward winning rights for Muslim women.

Lu plans to mount another protest-by-veil on the week of Jan. 14, when the charter proposal returns to Quebec’s National Assembly for debate.

She said the charter has in recent days posed a more tangible threat to local Muslims.

“People who are already prejudiced now feel like they have a license. When the state accords inferior status to some citizens, it’s saying we can infringe on rights of these citizens more than others, for some people they’ll read that as a license to act in discriminatory ways,” Lu said.

Genevieve Lepage is a Quebec Muslim who wears the veil and is a lecturer on social psychology at the Université de Montréal. She spoke to Al Jazeera at Abou Baker Asseddique Mosque, a small prayer facility above a hair salon in northern Montreal that houses the Association Musulmane Québécoise, a Muslim advocacy group where Lepage is a spokeswoman.

Lepage says that since the charter was passed, she and her acquaintances have experienced more attacks, hostile stares and racial epithets from people who she says have been emboldened by the proposed legislation.

Lepage worries that, if the charter passes, she will need to leave her native Quebec to find a new job after over a decade pursuing a doctorate in hopes of getting her current position.

“I might become a religious refugee. Wow,” she said.

But charter opponents like Lu call the PQ’s logic a thinly veiled excuse to disadvantage non-Christians at province-funded workplaces.

In a Nov. 18 letter to the New York Times, Drainville wrote, of the charter project, “These steps are taken at a time of growth of Islam in Quebec, as everywhere else. But the legislation is not specific to any religion.”

The letter “tells me they are suffering from double-speak,” Lu said.

“If people never get exposed to differences, they can maintain their illegitimate, unfounded fears. That’s the biggest barrier to integration.”

That’s why Lu, who was born secular and raised in a non-Muslim family in Vancouver, started wearing hijab — the headscarf worn by some Muslim women — to class in September, as news of the charter project started to arise.

“Many of us think if it passes, that will be the day when we all have a duty to wear a religious symbol,” Lu said, wearing the makeshift hijab she fashioned out of a black ski cap and scarf at a cafe, just blocks from the giant crucifix.

Lu is one of several public employees in Montreal who’ve pledged to wear religious gear in an act of civil disobedience if the charter proposal passes.

The PQ’s prospective charter has sparked vigorous debate on secular government and religious pluralism in Quebec, cutting across traditional linguistic communities in the French and English speaking city of Montreal. A majority of Quebec universities, including Lu’s McGill, have issued statements against the ban. Montreal’s landmark Jewish General Hospital has officially pledged to engage in civil disobedience by allowing employees to wear religious dress if the law passes.

The polemic rages on at a time when other countries are also starting to impose bans on Muslim religious dress, in what opponents to the legislation call an infringement on personal freedoms and proponents argue is a step against encroaching religious influences in the state and toward winning rights for Muslim women.

Lu plans to mount another protest-by-veil on the week of Jan. 14, when the charter proposal returns to Quebec’s National Assembly for debate.

She said the charter has in recent days posed a more tangible threat to local Muslims.

“People who are already prejudiced now feel like they have a license. When the state accords inferior status to some citizens, it’s saying we can infringe on rights of these citizens more than others, for some people they’ll read that as a license to act in discriminatory ways,” Lu said.

Genevieve Lepage is a Quebec Muslim who wears the veil and is a lecturer on social psychology at the Université de Montréal. She spoke to Al Jazeera at Abou Baker Asseddique Mosque, a small prayer facility above a hair salon in northern Montreal that houses the Association Musulmane Québécoise, a Muslim advocacy group where Lepage is a spokeswoman.

Lepage says that since the charter was passed, she and her acquaintances have experienced more attacks, hostile stares and racial epithets from people who she says have been emboldened by the proposed legislation.

Lepage worries that, if the charter passes, she will need to leave her native Quebec to find a new job after over a decade pursuing a doctorate in hopes of getting her current position.

“I might become a religious refugee. Wow,” she said.

But charter opponents like Lu call the PQ’s logic a thinly veiled excuse to disadvantage non-Christians at province-funded workplaces.

In a Nov. 18 letter to the New York Times, Drainville wrote, of the charter project, “These steps are taken at a time of growth of Islam in Quebec, as everywhere else. But the legislation is not specific to any religion.”

The letter “tells me they are suffering from double-speak,” Lu said.

“If people never get exposed to differences, they can maintain their illegitimate, unfounded fears. That’s the biggest barrier to integration.”

That’s why Lu, who was born secular and raised in a non-Muslim family in Vancouver, started wearing hijab — the headscarf worn by some Muslim women — to class in September, as news of the charter project started to arise.

“Many of us think if it passes, that will be the day when we all have a duty to wear a religious symbol,” Lu said, wearing the makeshift hijab she fashioned out of a black ski cap and scarf at a cafe, just blocks from the giant crucifix.

Lu is one of several public employees in Montreal who’ve pledged to wear religious gear in an act of civil disobedience if the charter proposal passes.

The PQ’s prospective charter has sparked vigorous debate on secular government and religious pluralism in Quebec, cutting across traditional linguistic communities in the French and English speaking city of Montreal. A majority of Quebec universities, including Lu’s McGill, have issued statements against the ban. Montreal’s landmark Jewish General Hospital has officially pledged to engage in civil disobedience by allowing employees to wear religious dress if the law passes.

The polemic rages on at a time when other countries are also starting to impose bans on Muslim religious dress, in what opponents to the legislation call an infringement on personal freedoms and proponents argue is a step against encroaching religious influences in the state and toward winning rights for Muslim women.

Lu plans to mount another protest-by-veil on the week of Jan. 14, when the charter proposal returns to Quebec’s National Assembly for debate.

She said the charter has in recent days posed a more tangible threat to local Muslims.

“People who are already prejudiced now feel like they have a license. When the state accords inferior status to some citizens, it’s saying we can infringe on rights of these citizens more than others, for some people they’ll read that as a license to act in discriminatory ways,” Lu said.

Genevieve Lepage is a Quebec Muslim who wears the veil and is a lecturer on social psychology at the Université de Montréal. She spoke to Al Jazeera at Abou Baker Asseddique Mosque, a small prayer facility above a hair salon in northern Montreal that houses the Association Musulmane Québécoise, a Muslim advocacy group where Lepage is a spokeswoman.

Lepage says that since the charter was passed, she and her acquaintances have experienced more attacks, hostile stares and racial epithets from people who she says have been emboldened by the proposed legislation.

Lepage worries that, if the charter passes, she will need to leave her native Quebec to find a new job after over a decade pursuing a doctorate in hopes of getting her current position.

“I might become a religious refugee. Wow,” she said.

But charter opponents like Lu call the PQ’s logic a thinly veiled excuse to disadvantage non-Christians at province-funded workplaces.

In a Nov. 18 letter to the New York Times, Drainville wrote, of the charter project, “These steps are taken at a time of growth of Islam in Quebec, as everywhere else. But the legislation is not specific to any religion.”

The letter “tells me they are suffering from double-speak,” Lu said.

“If people never get exposed to differences, they can maintain their illegitimate, unfounded fears. That’s the biggest barrier to integration.”

That’s why Lu, who was born secular and raised in a non-Muslim family in Vancouver, started wearing hijab — the headscarf worn by some Muslim women — to class in September, as news of the charter project started to arise.

“Many of us think if it passes, that will be the day when we all have a duty to wear a religious symbol,” Lu said, wearing the makeshift hijab she fashioned out of a black ski cap and scarf at a cafe, just blocks from the giant crucifix.

Lu is one of several public employees in Montreal who’ve pledged to wear religious gear in an act of civil disobedience if the charter proposal passes.

The PQ’s prospective charter has sparked vigorous debate on secular government and religious pluralism in Quebec, cutting across traditional linguistic communities in the French and English speaking city of Montreal. A majority of Quebec universities, including Lu’s McGill, have issued statements against the ban. Montreal’s landmark Jewish General Hospital has officially pledged to engage in civil disobedience by allowing employees to wear religious dress if the law passes.

The polemic rages on at a time when other countries are also starting to impose bans on Muslim religious dress, in what opponents to the legislation call an infringement on personal freedoms and proponents argue is a step against encroaching religious influences in the state and toward winning rights for Muslim women.

Lu plans to mount another protest-by-veil on the week of Jan. 14, when the charter proposal returns to Quebec’s National Assembly for debate.

She said the charter has in recent days posed a more tangible threat to local Muslims.

“People who are already prejudiced now feel like they have a license. When the state accords inferior status to some citizens, it’s saying we can infringe on rights of these citizens more than others, for some people they’ll read that as a license to act in discriminatory ways,” Lu said.

Genevieve Lepage is a Quebec Muslim who wears the veil and is a lecturer on social psychology at the Université de Montréal. She spoke to Al Jazeera at Abou Baker Asseddique Mosque, a small prayer facility above a hair salon in northern Montreal that houses the Association Musulmane Québécoise, a Muslim advocacy group where Lepage is a spokeswoman.

Lepage says that since the charter was passed, she and her acquaintances have experienced more attacks, hostile stares and racial epithets from people who she says have been emboldened by the proposed legislation.

Lepage worries that, if the charter passes, she will need to leave her native Quebec to find a new job after over a decade pursuing a doctorate in hopes of getting her current position.

“I might become a religious refugee. Wow,” she said.

But charter opponents like Lu call the PQ’s logic a thinly veiled excuse to disadvantage non-Christians at province-funded workplaces.

In a Nov. 18 letter to the New York Times, Drainville wrote, of the charter project, “These steps are taken at a time of growth of Islam in Quebec, as everywhere else. But the legislation is not specific to any religion.”

The letter “tells me they are suffering from double-speak,” Lu said.

“If people never get exposed to differences, they can maintain their illegitimate, unfounded fears. That’s the biggest barrier to integration.”

That’s why Lu, who was born secular and raised in a non-Muslim family in Vancouver, started wearing hijab — the headscarf worn by some Muslim women — to class in September, as news of the charter project started to arise.

“Many of us think if it passes, that will be the day when we all have a duty to wear a religious symbol,” Lu said, wearing the makeshift hijab she fashioned out of a black ski cap and scarf at a cafe, just blocks from the giant crucifix.

Lu is one of several public employees in Montreal who’ve pledged to wear religious gear in an act of civil disobedience if the charter proposal passes.

The PQ’s prospective charter has sparked vigorous debate on secular government and religious pluralism in Quebec, cutting across traditional linguistic communities in the French and English speaking city of Montreal. A majority of Quebec universities, including Lu’s McGill, have issued statements against the ban. Montreal’s landmark Jewish General Hospital has officially pledged to engage in civil disobedience by allowing employees to wear religious dress if the law passes.

The polemic rages on at a time when other countries are also starting to impose bans on Muslim religious dress, in what opponents to the legislation call an infringement on personal freedoms and proponents argue is a step against encroaching religious influences in the state and toward winning rights for Muslim women.

Lu plans to mount another protest-by-veil on the week of Jan. 14, when the charter proposal returns to Quebec’s National Assembly for debate.

She said the charter has in recent days posed a more tangible threat to local Muslims.

“People who are already prejudiced now feel like they have a license. When the state accords inferior status to some citizens, it’s saying we can infringe on rights of these citizens more than others, for some people they’ll read that as a license to act in discriminatory ways,” Lu said.

Genevieve Lepage is a Quebec Muslim who wears the veil and is a lecturer on social psychology at the Université de Montréal. She spoke to Al Jazeera at Abou Baker Asseddique Mosque, a small prayer facility above a hair salon in northern Montreal that houses the Association Musulmane Québécoise, a Muslim advocacy group where Lepage is a spokeswoman.

Lepage says that since the charter was passed, she and her acquaintances have experienced more attacks, hostile stares and racial epithets from people who she says have been emboldened by the proposed legislation.

Lepage worries that, if the charter passes, she will need to leave her native Quebec to find a new job after over a decade pursuing a doctorate in hopes of getting her current position.

“I might become a religious refugee. Wow,” she said.


The debate rages at a time when other countries are also starting to impose bans on Muslim religious dress, in what opponents of the legislation call an infringement on personal freedoms and proponents argue is a measure against encroaching religious influences in the state and toward winning rights for Muslim women.

Lu plans to mount another protest by veil on the week of Jan. 14, when public hearings open on the charter proposal.

She said the charter has in recent days posed a more tangible threat to local Muslims.

“People who are already prejudiced now feel like they have a license. When the state accords inferior status to some citizens, it’s saying we can infringe on rights of these citizens more than others. For some people, they’ll read that as a license to act in discriminatory ways,” Lu said.

Genevieve Lepage is a Quebec Muslim who wears a hijab and is a lecturer on social psychology at the University of Montreal. She spoke to Al Jazeera at Abou Bakr Asseddique, a small mosque above a hair salon in northern Montreal that houses the Association Musulmane Quebecoise, a Muslim advocacy group where Lepage is a spokeswoman.

She says that since the charter was proposed, she and her acquaintances have experienced more attacks, hostile stares and racial epithets from people who she says have been emboldened by it.

Lepage worries that if the charter passes, she will need to leave her native Quebec to find a new job after over a decade pursuing a doctorate in hopes of getting her current position.

“I might become a religious refugee. Wow,” she said.

‘Quack doctors’

Both Lu and Lepage said that although the PQ worked years ago on similar projects that were tabled, their timing appears a bit arbitrary, first because there aren’t even that many Muslims in Quebec.

Mohamed Habib Marzougui, the imam at Abou Bakr Asseddique, said that only a small percentage of Quebecois are Muslim, on the basis of a 2011 federal government estimate that 243,430 of Quebec’s 7.9 million people are Muslim. Local community heads expect that at current population growth rates, the number of Muslims will rise by only 6 percent by 2030.

Although, as Marzougui noted, many Quebecois have never met a Muslim, studies show they have an unusually unfavorable attitude toward Islam. According to pollsters at Angus Reid Global, 69 percent of surveyed Quebecois “view Islam unfavorably,” versus 54 percent of people in other Canadian respondents.

The charter project surfaced “to hide (the PQ’s) balance sheets” by playing to Islamophobic sentiments, Marzougui said.

Lu also believes that, facing a shaky economy, the PQ is aiming to distract constituents by playing into long-simmering separatist sentiments among French Canadians, who often worry that their linguistic and cultural heritage is dying out.

“I think of the PQ as quack doctors … It’s like offering drugs that don’t work. As if that’s going to make Quebec society stronger. It will make it less strong when you’ve alienated minorities who are a source of change, development and the continuation of the Quebec identity.”

The French connection

Although Quebec’s French Canadians are separated from France by an ocean and centuries of history, Lepage believes France’s ban on religious symbols — including the headscarf — in public schools in 2004, under the administration of then-President Jacques Chirac, has inspired some of the charter.

“They are getting inspired by a relatively recent movement of secularism in France,” said Lepage, explaining that whereas France’s government used to not interfere with religion and vice versa, the government has started playing an intrusive role in religious people’s lives, with various prohibitions on religious dress that many say have targeted Muslims.

McGill political-science professor Eric Belanger, who focuses on Quebec politics, agreed with Lepage that the PQ is looking east.

“In terms of the current debate on secularism, the main inspiration has thus been France’s republican approach to immigrant integration,” he said.

“Quebec politics are influenced by France mostly, if not only, when there is a Parti Quebecois government in power. The PQ’s political goal is to create an independent Quebec that would be closer in terms of its political culture and policy to those of its French founders.”

But Drainville denies having been largely inspired by Paris.

“We have looked into what France has done, as we have seen (similar legislation passed in) Switzerland, Germany and Denmark and many other countries. But what we propose is a model of secularism unique to Quebec, in the image of Quebecers,” he said.

France’s Front National is a far-right group that often vows to maintain French identity by rejecting what it sees as signs of encroaching Islam. The party has been gaining among the nation’s poor with calls for protectionist fiscal policies, among other populist positions.

Asked about the spate of accusations of racism from artists and other public figures in recent years, the French party’s legal counsel, Wallerand de Saint-Just, said that was impossible.

“We say that’s a lie, besides the fact that a ‘parti’ cannot (itself) be racist,” he wrote in an email.

Like the PQ, the Front National often says it hopes to include ethnic and religious minorities through what it calls republican assimilation. Recently, de Saint-Just decried public funds contributed to the construction of a Muslim community center, in what he told Al Jazeera “was a violation of the laws of secularity.”

Drainville said that while he wouldn’t comment on the Front National or France’s politics, “the Parti Quebecois has always been for immigration.”

Regardless of whether the ban on religious gear started in France, advocates for Muslims living in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang said that when countries with more internationally respected human-rights records like France and Canada impose bans on religious observances, it legitimizes Beijing’s attempts to do the same.

In November, signs popped up on public venues across Xinjiang, where fights between Han Chinese and Muslim ethnic Uighurs have raged in recent years, forbidding women wearing headscarves to enter.

“The enacting of discriminatory laws by Western democracies helps authoritarian states like China to justify its discrimination against peaceful Uighur Muslims,” said Alim Seytoff, a spokesman for the World Uighur Congress, an international Uighur-rights advocacy group.

In faraway Montreal, Lepage also says it appears China is getting on the bandwagon with the West.

“There is no Islamicization movement in the world. There are some very visible people” advocating for Islamism in Muslim-majority nations, she said. “What’s documented is a movement of Islamophobia.”

But even if the charter is passed and serves as what Lepage contends would be proof of Islamophobia, there are signs of a movement against it.

Outside the Mont Royal metro station, there’s a building inscribed with a poem written in French by Gerald Godin in 1983:

“Seven thirty metro in Montreal/ Is full of immigrants/ They bring joy/ Those people. The old heart of the city/ Shall beat again/ Thanks to them.”

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