In the News: Open Letter from AQNAL to Françoise David

AQNAL (Quebec Association of North Africans for Secularism) denounces the folly of Françoise David

Nadia El-Mabrouk, for AQNAL

NOTE:
AQNAL is a participant organization of the Rassemblement pour la laïcité (RPL or Alliance for Secularism), as is our organization LPA.
Françoise David is an MNA and spokesperson for Québec Solidaire.

On behalf of the Association Québécoise des Nord Africains pour la Laïcité (AQNAL or Quebec Association of North Africans for Secularism) we must respond to the resolution which you proposed and the National Assembly adopted this morning. We thank you for your willingness to appeal for social cohesion. Who could disagree with this principle? We thank you as well for reminding everyone that Quebecers of the Muslim religion, and indeed of all religions, or even of no religion, are all citizens of Quebec. Indeed, during our presentation before the parliamentary commission dealing with Draft Bill 59, we insisted on being recognized as citizens of Quebec of various national origins, not on the basis of our religion.

We observe that, under the guise of protecting minorities, you make a number of generalizations which are unacceptable. In fact, if the idea of denouncing face-coverings worn during swearing-in ceremonies is given too much attention during the current federal election campaign, then why did your resolution not limit itself to discussing the niqab? What link can there possibly be with the thorny and global issue of Syrian refugees, a problem for which no simple political solution exists, neither here, nor elsewhere.

[…] what shocked us even more was that today you introduced, in the National Assembly of Quebec, the word islamophobia. We must respond to the erroneous, abusive and unjustified usage of this term. It is a source of one of the most serious political and semantic confusions of our time: that to resist fanaticism amounts to racism. It is a nebulous concept, created with the purpose of curbing any vigilance with regard to Islamism and intimidating those who would criticize that ideology.

You refer then to the increase in the number of islamophobic and racist videos and comments which proliferate on social media. Exactly which comments and videos are you talking about? On social media all sorts for hateful speech can be found. Once again, what has this to do with the niqab? However, we nevertheless recognize two key concepts which you succeeded in introducing in the National Assembly today: islamophobia and the fight against hate speech. This brings us back to Draft Bill 59 which was almost unanimously denounced, during the parliamentary hearings, as legislation contrary to the foundations of a free and democratic country. Numerous persons and groups, including ourselves, presented arguments that such a law would do more to protect Islamist radicals than it would to protect society from them. Unfortunately, you were not present, nor was any representative of your party, to hear our concerns.

But what shocked us even more was that today you introduced, in the National Assembly of Quebec, the word islamophobia. We must respond to the erroneous, abusive and unjustified usage of this term. It is a source of one of the most serious political and semantic confusions of our time: that to resist fanaticism amounts to racism. It is a nebulous concept, created with the purpose of curbing any vigilance with regard to Islamism and intimidating those who would criticize that ideology. Rather than attacking those who are afraid of Islam, we should be standing up to those who create that fear, those who manipulate democracy, who use Canadian charters to advance their program of political Islam. It is not difficult to see that women who wear the niqab belong to that category of citizens who provoke Quebec and Canadian institutions.

Here in Quebec, it is Islamists who claim to be victims of exclusion but who reject the way of life of the society which has welcomed them, meanwhile blaming all those who refuse and criticize their antiquated practices. It is they, not we—who nevertheless come from the same cultural and religious sphere as they do—who claim to be victims of islamophobia. The majority of Muslims are collateral yet direct victims of this concept of islamophobia.

Quebecers are provoked and often outraged by so-called religious practices such as the niqab. They notice that, more often than not, such practices are reactionary and backward, and that they risk compromising the societal project which they have been developing and evolving for decades, if not for centuries. We, Quebec citizens of Muslim heritage, are similarly outraged to be associated with those who play the victim while pretending to speak in our name. We are outraged that you speak on our behalf while using that word islamophobia. By treating Quebecers as racists and islamophobes, you insult them and you insult us as well, we Quebec citizens of Muslim heritage.

We will thank you Madame to stop speaking on our behalf.

Nadia El-Mabrouk
For « Association Québécoise des Nord Africains pour la Laïcité » (Quebec Association of North Africans for Secularism)

Translation: David Rand


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