A fierce debate has been reignited in Quebec over religious accommodation after three mayors blocked Muslim speakers and projects, and opposition lawmakers cranked up pressure on the province’s Liberal government to protect traditional values.
Some Muslim leaders say the moves represent a hardening stand not just against Muslim extremism but against Islam in general ”“ one that is forcing a return to a thorny issue many Quebeckers thought had died down after the high-profile fight over the failed Quebec Charter of Values. As in that debate, Muslims say the new actions taken by the mayors are muzzling their ability to practise their religion, while others argue the moves were made for the greater public good.
Debate over religious accommodation and what motivated last fall’s attacks in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa were still simmering in Quebec when Islamist terrorists struck the Paris offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in early January. The Paris attack resonated strongly in Quebec, also a secularist society with a swelling Muslim population.