Thursday, February 01, 2007

You Can't Kill Women, Quebec Tells Immigrants

Immigrants who want to live in the small Canadian town of Herouxville, Quebec, must not stone women to death in public, burn them alive or throw acid on them, according to an extraordinary set of rules released by the local council. The declaration, published on the town's website, has deepened tensions in the predominantly French-speaking province over how tolerant Quebecers should be toward the customs and traditions of immigrants. "We wish to inform these new arrivals that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here," said the declaration, which makes clear women are allowed to drive, vote, dance, write cheques, dress how they want, work and own property.
Salam Elmenyawi
"Therefore we consider it completely outside these norms to ... kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them etc." Herouxville, which has 1300 inhabitants, is about 160km northeast of Montreal. Andre Drouin, the councilor who devised the declaration, told reporters the town was not racist. "We invite people from all nationalities, all languages, all sexual orientations, whatever, to come live with us, but we want them to know ahead of time how we live," he said. The declaration is part of a wider debate over "reasonable accommodation", or how far Quebecers should be prepared to change their customs so as not to offend immigrants. The Herouxville regulations say girls and boys can exercise together and people should only be allowed to cover their faces at Halloween. Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said the declaration had "set the clock back for decades" as far as race relations were concerned."I was shocked and insulted to see these kinds of stereotypes and ignorance about Islam and our religion ... in a public document written by people in authority who discriminate openly," he said.