Like Bambi, Ms. Ensaf Haidar believes that religion is a personal matter.
Apparently like Bambi too, Ms. Ensaf Haidar respects the choice of a majority in a society.
Bill 21 is Québec’s choice (with its majority government).
It is not up to a Canadian Prime Minister (hello Mr. Trudeau :)!) to impose his own approach to secularism on this distinct society.
As a reminder, this is not any society. It is made by, of, and for one of the three founding peoples of our country. It deserves our respect!
Immigrants who arrive to Québec choose it because of its secularism. Read this translated article below and you will understand.
Bambi’s own sisters and friends chose a French school for their children when they moved back from Québec to their birth country a few years ago, precisely because of the culture of secularism of that particular school. They did not go for a religious (i.e., Christian) school.
Like Bambi and Ms. Haidar, they believe that religions are a private matter. This regardless of any particular religion and with all due respect to all of them (tiny Lebanon has 18 religions or sects of religions).
To come back to Québec now, bill 21 includes a “grandfather” clause, which allows existing public servants to keep any religious sign in their positions of authority. In other terms, no one will be losing his or her job because of this new bill. How clever and thoughtful. How moderate too. Too bad that many Canadian media articles “forget” to mention this clause.
We may or may not like bill 21. We may not like how Québec’s society has chosen to live. That’s fine. However, at one point, we must accept that this is its own choice.
If we do not like this historico-cultural approach to secularism in the public sector, well we look for a job in the private sector.
Plus, as mentioned above, when immigrants (and Bambi is an old one) come to Québec, they know how Québeckers live. Again, they chose to live in the Belle Province because of its way of living.
If we absolutely cannot stand the values of this secular society, perhaps it is time to move to live elsewhere (rest of Canada, the UK, or the USA, with its different approach to secularism, called multiculturalism). Bambi has lived in three different provinces. Each part of our country has its own charm.
Further below, you can find a quick translation of an article published today in the Journal de Montréal by Mr. Erika Aubin (with Mr. Michael Nguyen) featuring Ms. Ensaf Haidar who supported bill 21 in court:
Thank you Ms. Haidar for being both congruent and fair to Québec, unlike Mr. Trudeau… and sadly the rest of Canada.
In Bambi’s non-expert citizen’s opinion, if our PM keeps pushing thus far his disrespect of Québec, he should not be surprised if people end up rekindling the sovereignty movement.
This being said, Ms. Haidar’s support to bill 21 on the state’s secularism is significant given the tragic and unfair story of her spouse, Mr. Raif Badawi.
Mr. Badawi is still in jail in Saudi Arabia. As a reminder, he was sentenced to 1000 lashes, a 10 year sentence, and a fine of 200,000 Saudi Arabian riyals (CAD $69,381).
Why? Well, he was writing on a blog, just like Bambi! His writings were considered offensive to Islam. By our own Canadian standards, his posts would be simply “benign” (https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/what-did-raif-badawi-write-to-get-saudi-arabia-so-angry).
Bambi prays that Mr. Badawi will be finally free so he can enjoy living with his family in secular Québec, free to be secular or observant!
Because Bambi grew up in Lebanon where Islam is largely moderate, thankfully her experiences or observations are different from Ms. Haidar or the other persons who also testified in court. However, these citizens are courageously pointing to the real issue underlying Islam in many countries unless this religion manages to reform like others (i.e., judaism at one point in its history): In Islam, there is no distinction between private and political life. In Québec, there is.
Which laws should apply in Québec: Sharia, Trudeau’s rigid multiculturalism, or simply Bill 21?
Logically, bill 21 in Québec, according to Bambi.
In Canada, it is multiculturalism.
As simple as that…
Beginning of the article in question:
“Raif Badawi’s spouse supports secularism bill. She testified Monday in Montreal at the trial that seeks to invalidate this bill.
The spouse of political prisoner Raif Badawi, a refugee in Québec since her spouse was sentenced to 1,000 lashes in Saudi Arabia, came out in favour of the secularism bill on Monday at the trial to invalidate it.
“The veil is not religion. Teachers are the leaders for children. We are not going to implicate religion”, Ensaf Haidar told the court.
According to the woman who has become a symbol of freedom of expression, the hijab is a political rather than a religious accessory. To support her claim, she cited Iran as an example, where the wearing of the veil has become compulsory for women in public.
With her testimony, she hopes to convince the judge that the law on secularism is “the only solution to live without religion“.
The law prohibits the wearing of religious symbols by government employees in positions of authority while performing their duties, including judges, police officers and teachers.
Religion, a personal choice
“I left [Saudi Arabia] because it is difficult for a woman to live a normal life there. I’m a Muslim, but religion is personal”, she argued.
Ms. Haidar moved to Lebanon before settling in Sherbrooke in 2013 with her three children.
Her spouse, a freedom of expression and gender equality activist, has been jailed since 2012 in Saudi Arabia. In addition to being sentenced to 10 years in prison, he was also sentenced to 1,000 lashes.
Lawyers who challenge the law, formerly known as “Bill 21”, have not ventured to cross-examine her, unlike witnesses who followed it.
The hijab at the heart of the debate
Since the beginning of the debate surrounding this bill, the hijab has aroused passions.
Last week at the civil trial, teachers testified that it was inconceivable for them to remove their veils, even in a professional setting.
After Ensaf Haidar’s testimony, two other Muslim witnesses addressed the court on Monday to oppose their child having a female teacher wearing a veil.
“The veil is a pernicious Islamic symbol. This is a message that the woman cannot be respectable if she does not wear it because her hair is part of her nakedness, argued Algerian Boushi Laoun.“This is not an education that I want to pass on to my two children“.
A mother from Algeria then explained that she sees the veil as a symbol “which testifies to the inferiority of women“.
“I experienced the arrival of fundamentalist [Islamism]. I saw my freedoms trampled. I could no longer walk the streets [without a veil] without being called names. They wanted to tell me what to wear, even inside my own home, ”she told Judge Marc-André Blanchard.
In 2011, she chose Québec as a land of welcome to, among other things, offer secular education to her daughters.”