Nasty and brutish
This post was written by MJ on 1st August 2002
Three separate stories this week illustrate the sometimes violent, often mean, usually ignorant manner the majority treats immigrants, especially if “they” look different from “us”.
Ignorance: In Brossard, 925 residents have signed a petition at City Hall opposing the construction of a mosque and community centre for Ismaili Muslims in the centre of town. An ad-hoc citizens’ group, Brossard Citizens’ Coalition, has sprung up to block the project on the grounds of the project’s location and it’s purpose. “Why chose the centre of Brossard?” asks one coalition member. (I doubt he would be asking the same question of a Catholic church.) City Hall responds by saying not enough is known about the project. I can’t help but thinking the words mosque and Muslim are covertly driving opposition in the suburban south shore community — even though the Ismaili sect and the Aga Khan Foundation are the most moderate and progressive of Muslim organizations; the foundation recently co-sponsored workshops on women’s economic empowerment with CIDA in India. (Thanks to Kate for finding this story.)
Meanness: Let’s recap: Gurbaj Singh Multani is a Sikh. (Pictured right with father.) He wears a kirpan, a small, dull, sheathed ceremonial dagger. He’s a schoolboy. His french-language school board had forbid him to wear it. He went to court. His family and the school board made a compromise to get him back in school. The province rejected it. Now, surprise surprise, he’s chucking it all and going to a private english-language school. Result: School board, province look petty, intransigent, intolerant; Multani, as before, will go to school with his kirpan, as children across Canada have done for decades; immigrants are told once again to keep their heads down, keep quiet: You’re here on our benevolence.
Violence: Saturday, Somen Chowdhury (right) and his wife Somita were attacked in broad daylight in Angrignon park and Tuesday police told the Gazette they “are not treating this lightly” and they believe it was a hate crime. Chowdhury says they had just arrived at the sprawling west-end park for a picnic when four people — in their 20s, “dressed like punks” and obviously inebriated — threw beer on them, shouted slurs and obscenities, punched and kicked them. Police also say the case is not related to the 1998 murder of Milia Abrar in an Angrignon Park bathroom; unofficial word there is police know Abrar’s killing is linked to family and marriage issues and know her killer’s identity but lack enough evidence to lay charges.