Anti-charter march on for Quebec City, pro-charter rally postponed

Anti-charter march on for Quebec City, pro-charter rally postponed Organizer Adil Charkaoui received death threats Quebec City police may be breathing easier now that a pro-Charter of Values demonstration initially scheduled for Sunday has been postponed until the end of October. The march was set to take place at the same time and place — in front of the National Assembly — as an anti-charter rally organized by the Collectif Québécois Contre l’Islamophobie (Quebec collective against Islamophobia), the same group that drew an estimated 40,000 protesters to a rally in Montreal Sept. 14. The CQCI, which counts among its spokespeople Imam Salam Elmenyawi of the Muslim Council of Montreal and Adil Charkaoui, whose case before the Supreme Court of Canada eventually led to his security certificate being revoked in 2009, hailed the development as good news Saturday on their Facebook page. It is organizing buses to take demonstrators from Montreal to Quebec City and hopes to rally people from all parts of Quebec. With a new logo — a red circle on white background said to represent “the urgency of taking action against a government turning around in circles rather than attacking real problems in society,” the group says it wants to take its message right to Premier Pauline Marois and the minister for democratic institutions, Bernard Drainville, the principal architects of the charter. “With the first demonstration the Collective was being demonized and I had the impression that the media tried to minimize or deform the message of peace and inclusion by thousands of people, and they didn’t want it to reach Quebec City,” Charkaoui said Saturday, adding that the Montreal protest included federalists and sovereignists, francophones and anglophones, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and Christians. “So we decided we’ll go to Quebec City to sing them the same song — that we don’t want working women excluded, that we don’t want Sikh boys to not be able to play soccer or Jews to not be able to wear their kippahs.” Charkaoui said the debate over the Charter, which would prohibit anyone working in the public service from being able to wear ostentatious religious symbols, has been far from “respectful and serene” as Drainville would have it. Rather, the debate, and Drainville himself, have enflamed tensions and increased the number of racist acts perpetrated against religious minorities, Charkaoui said, referring to an interview in which Drainville said “Islamization is a reality in Montreal.” “When the minister responsible for this debate says such nonsense in the media he can’t be surprised when women are getting spat on the bus.” Charkaoui, who founded the CQCI in 2010, said he himself has received several death threats recently, telling him his days were numbered, with photos of weapons attached. One man was arrested this week, he said, and will appear in court at the end of the month. The cybercrimes squad of the Montreal police is investigating, he said. “He used his real name,” Charkaoui said, “not even a pseudonym — because islamophobia has become acceptable.”